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Choosing a College Degree Program for Non-Academics

and IT Professionals that don't "Pass Paper"

Edward Frye

Western Governors University


Choosing a College Degree Program for Non-Academics

and IT Professionals that don't "Pass Paper"

I have never been much for the formal confines of traditional education. Since barely graduating high-school I have attempted to go back three times to get that piece of paper that so many ask about during the interview process, if you even get that far without it. And that's the problem right there, getting in the door is the hardest part about getting a job; unless of course you have the credentials on paper to show, nine times out of ten you're likely to end up in a pile of other candidates or simply filed away in the circular file. For this reason, I have chosen to pursue my degree at Western Governor's University (WGU) in Information Technology (IT) with an emphasis on Security. Those in the IT profession and doesn't have a degree should pursue their WGU.

During high school, I struggled to pay attention in class and almost never did any homework. But whenever a teacher would call on me, I was able to answer their questions correctly. At the end of my senior year, I was in jeopardy of not graduating unless I completed the homework assignments for the term; for which I completed in two weeks. I always felt that homework was a bit of busy work; and once I had grasped the concept or figured out how to perform the calculation, why repeat it over and over multiple times.

The first reason WGU is the best choice for IT professionals is based on their competency model .  The competency model means that once you prove that you are proficient in a certain area or topic, you can move on. Because of the competency based model, you can work at your own pace, to an extent. What I mean by that is you can accelerate your movement through the coursework as fast as you can prove you know the subject matter and there is no busy work. For example, the first class you need to take is WGU's introductory course, "Education Without Boundaries". This class is scheduled to take up to twenty days; however if you're keyed into the work, or it comes easy enough  it is possible to finish within one day. You cannot be complacent and  just stay in one particular class for months, while on end paying for school and not moving forward. But at the same time, you can work with your student and course mentors to establish a schedule that works for you.

This brings me to the next advantage of WGU; they are a nonprofit organization. Unlike for-profit universities, WGU does not have a bottom line or cash flow as their primary interest. Instead the focus is on providing students an education they need. As a non-profit University WGU must adhere to IRS (Publication 4220, 2009) states "[the organization] must ensure that its earnings do not inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual." This means that any surplus the university received must be used to better the university and the students rather than shareholders or its creators.

Another key reason for choosing WGU is that as part of your Bachelors of Science in IT program you will earn industry leading certifications such as the CompTIA A+, Networks+, Project+ and either a highly valued Cisco or Microsoft certification. If  you already have these various certifications then you are that much closer to your goal WGU accepts and applies certifications on entry to the program. As an example; the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) credentials qualified me for the Security+ requirement which is currently a certification included as part of the tuition. So if you already know a subject, but never took the certification then these certifications are now doubly valuable as part of the degree and because of their value to the industry.

The fact that these certifications are part of tuition leads to my next point in choosing WGU. Unlike other universities where tuition is based on credit hours, the tuition is based solely on time. For each term you are enrolled, you pay a set price; regardless if you make the minimum number of units for the term or you blast through your courses as fast as you can, the cost per term is the same  low price compared to for-profit online universities where the cost of a single class with 6 credit hours is the same as a whole term at WGU.

Another reason for choosing WGU for a degree in IT is not only do they have the basic degree program covering general IT studies, but they also have specialized degrees or majors on certain subjects such as Networks Administration, Networks Design and Management, Databases, Software and the program that I am taking in Security. They also have programs for Health Informatics as well as business courses for IT from the College of Business.

So in conclusion, if you don't yet have your degree, hate the busy work, like to jump right to the items that you need to brush up on; then it only makes sense to choose WGU for your degree program. With the low cost of tuition, the ability to accelerate your education process, and the ability to obtain IT industry certifications, WGU provides a tremendous opportunity for IT professionals seeking a college degree.



IRS Publication 4220 (Rev. 8-2009) Applying for 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Status Retrieved 11 October 2011.

Western Governors University (2011) Degrees and Programs Retrieved 11 October 2011.


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