Wednesday, January 16, 2013

School without walls, fixed schedules or group pacing gets top ranking

Have you seen TV ads of an online school that uses people as billboards? Some of them are kind of geeky, but its enrollment in our state has quadrupled in 18 months. So, geeky or not, they're getting the word out: Western Governors University offers affordable online bachelor's and master's degrees to working adults.
There are still some skeptics out there who don't believe in getting a degree online; they may just change their minds with last week's news that the Kirkland-based SR Education Group, which rates online colleges and universities, said Western Governors University is the nation's top-performing online school.

SR Education Group, started by a former Microsoft executive, created the ranking of online higher-education institutions using a combination of measures such as reputation among alumni, affordability, and graduation and retention rates.
WGU was founded in 1997 by the governors of 19 Western states. In 2011, led by former Seattle Representative Phyllis GutiƩrrez Kenney, and Reps. Larry Seaquist and Eric Pettigrew, the Legislature passed a bill to create a partnership between Washington and WGU that:
  • Meets a key state need for affordable education in high-demand fields.
  • Opens a wide window of opportunities for full-time workers, dislocated workers and other underserved adult learners who would otherwise not have a chance to get a degree.
  • Offers the best of nontraditional opportunities — high quality, affordability, and flexibility.
All at absolutely no cost to Washington taxpayers.

A 2009 survey of employers in states that already had WGUs and who have hired WGU grads found that:
  • 98 percent of employers rated employees with degrees from WGU as "excellent" or "good."
  • 90 percent of employers consider WGU grads' preparation for the workforce either "good" or "excellent."
  • 91 percent said they would be willing to hire additional WGU graduates.
  • 81 percent of employers said they would recommend hiring WGU graduates to their associates.
  • 79 percent of employers indicated that they noted a higher level of individual learning ability in WGU graduates.
  • 82 percent rated WGU graduates higher than other employees in terms of self-motivation and direction.
Check out the Online College Rankings Report.
Read the story in the Seattle Times.
Visit the WGU Washington website.

Read this story in Spanish here.