The calendar signals back-to-school season when college-bound Ohioans descend on campuses with laptops, bins of dorm supplies, and electronics. But for nearly 10 Pike County students “back to school,” has a new, much more flexible meaning. These are students are enrolled in Ohio’s newest university — WGU Ohio, an innovative, competency-based university offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in programs of study aligned with the state’s in-demand career fields.

At WGU, learning continues throughout the calendar year — students can start their program on the first day of any month, year-round. This is ideal for motivated, mature learners anxious to advance their careers. WGU’s competency-based model allows learners to accelerate through competencies more familiar to them, intensifying their efforts on advanced competencies.

“We require students to complete a foundational curriculum of general knowledge in addition to mastering industry-specific, relevant skills that employers seek,” said Dr. Rebecca Watts, chancellor of WGU Ohio. “Faculty provide one-on-one support to students through our online interface, and our model recognizes demonstration of learning instead of seat time. This is essential for our students, most of whom who work full-time, making it impossible for them to access a traditional classroom setting.”

While learning never stops at WGU, to celebrate the tradition of the season, the university is offering new students the opportunity to apply for a Back to School Scholarship. Valued at up to $2,000 ($500 per term, for up to four terms), the scholarship represents about 15 percent of tuition and fees per term. More information is available at: www.wgu.edu/financial-aid-tuition/scholarships/general/back-to-school.html.

WGU’s innovative and affordable programs appeal to a growing numbers of Ohioans because:

WGU offers degrees in the high-demand fields of information technology, business, education and health professions, including nursing.

Students don’t follow predetermined seasons or semesters. Once they are admitted, they can start an undergraduate or graduate degree program on the first day of any month, year-round.

Students demonstrate their mastery of subject matter by successfully completing assessments—proctored objective tests, papers, projects, or presentations.

Required competencies for each degree program are informed by experts from industry and academia, and they help us ensure that our students are learning the competencies they will need to be successful in their fields.

WGU’s tuition is about $3,500 per six-month term for undergraduate programs and about $3,800 per term for graduate programs. This flat-rate tuition model means students can complete as many courses as they are able each term, incurring no additional cost. And they don’t have to buy textbooks because all learning materials are provided.

Through WGU’s partnership with Ohio’s community colleges, credit earned in the completion of an associate degree applies to the pursuit of a bachelor’s degree at WGU.

“WGU students aren’t moving into dorms or hanging out on the quad this month,” Chancellor Watts said. “But our model is designed to meet the needs of contemporary students. They seek a different path than a traditional residential university—one that allows them to fit learning into the spaces of their lives. Ohio is home to great colleges and universities, each with a unique mission. We are honored to be among those institutions. At WGU, every month is back-to-school month.”

WGU was founded by a group of state governors in 1997 to offer students, particularly adult learners, the chance to go to college while working and caring for their families. In 2018, Ohio became the eighth state to partner with WGU to offer its programs in heath and nursing, business, teaching and information technology.

More information on WGU Ohio is available at www.wgu.edu/ohio.html.

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