Online university offers scholarships to working professionals

Published: Jan. 17, 2017 at 6:50 AM PST
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Finishing a college degree is a New Year’s resolution for some, and a lifelong dream for others. Around 400,000 Nevadans have some college, but no degree.

"These are individuals that have family obligations, work obligations, they can't move away from that and go to a traditional brick and mortar campus," WGU Nevada Chancellor Spencer Stewart said.

Many turn to online universities to finish school, but with thousands of programs, deciding how to begin can be the hardest part.

When looking at online universities, one of the first things to consider is whether the program is accredited.

"Accreditation is a strength, or it's a signal to the individual that this is a reputable, recognized program by the U. S. Department of Education,” Stewart said.

Online learning is a little different than traditional education, so finding a program with a support system can be important.

"This feeling of isolation, being an island unto yourself, not being engaged with the broader campus community, we mitigate that by pairing our students with these faculty mentors,” Stewart said. WGU pairs each student with a faculty mentor designed to be with them from start to finish. This type of one-on-one support is designed to make online learning more effective.

Another thing to consider is the level of career advancement that would be possible after finishing a degree. In some industries, it may not be worth it.

It is also a good idea to find a program that takes current skills and experience into account. WGU provides a competency-based program to eliminate redundancy of coursework and shorten the time it takes to finish a degree.

The biggest concern for many is the cost.

“The average cost of a four-year degree with us is 15,000 dollars, and that includes the cost of textbooks,” Stewart said.

To remove that financial barrier even more, WGU Nevada is offering more than 500,000 dollars in scholarships for the beginning of the year.

To apply for this scholarship and more,