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What is WGU like?
#11
Merlin gave a great description/rundown/overview of what life is like at WGU. I am throwing in my own $.02 not only for the OP, but for anyone else considering WGU.  

In my opinion, you should get as many transfer credits as possible before going to WGU. I personally think that Study.com courses are easier for a variety of reasons which I will explain in a moment. WGU has internal social media/communication for each course via "course chatter". This allows students to openly communicate with Course Mentors and other students to publicly ask and answer questions or just make comments. The number one concern among students is PA and OA alignment. When I say PA in this context I mean "pre-assessment" and not "performance assessment".

This common fear about if the supporting course materials, quizzes, and pre-assessment align with the OA is an issue. This is not true of every course, but it is in some. Look no further than any of the facebook or reddit groups for WGU accelerators, concern over alignment will almost always be asked at some point depending on the course. The reasons for this can vary from course to course, however, the most common explanation is WGU has certain courses that always seem to be in a state of transition. New course material is added and other material taken away. It can be confusing in some instances if you try to gather sentiment on a class because you are not sure what version of the class someone took. 

I am currently taking C714 and there are two active versions of this class right now with the older version soon to be permanently gone. These types of transitions cause OA test questions to pop up that were never covered in the course material. Fortunately, there is no OA for C714. 

I have taken a number of courses with Study.com. I never felt like I was lacking access to practice tests and quizzes. When it was time for me to take a proctored exam with Study.com, I never felt like the final exam was surprising me with questions that were not covered in the material. At WGU, I don't feel like there is an over abundance of practice tests before I take the OA/final. Most PAs (to my knowledge) have only one set of practice questions. Course Mentors have even had to make their own Word documents to provide extra practice questions since in some cases the amount of test prep is lacking.    

Don't get me wrong, I like WGU but my point is this, at Study.com I never really worried if the underlying course content and practice tests would align with the final proctored exam. At WGU, valid concerns about alignment between the course material, the PA, and the OA do pop up as a concern sometimes. Transfer what you can not only in the name of saving money, but also in the name of speed and sanity.
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The Institutes (3 cr) 
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#12
(07-07-2020, 09:55 PM)AwardTour Wrote: The number one concern among students is PA and OA alignment. When I say PA in this context I mean "pre-assessment" and not "performance assessment".

I always refer to those as Pre-A rather than PA to avoid confusion. But I agree that this can be a problem in the courses where the learning and OA material is being updated.

(07-07-2020, 09:55 PM)AwardTour Wrote: Most PAs (to my knowledge) have only one set of practice questions. Course Mentors have even had to make their own Word documents to provide extra practice questions since in some cases the amount of test prep is lacking.

Based on my conversations with staff, all OA's have a single test bank for the pre-assessment and that test bank is limited in the number of questions it can contain. So, most of the time when you retake the Pre-A you will get the exact same questions in a different order.

This is why I don't recommend that students take the Pre-A until they are ready to take their OA. Some people recommend that students take the Pre-A as soon as they get access to the course to see how much they know, then use the results to figure out what material they need to study. This is a terrible idea for several reasons, but the two biggest reasons are that 1) taking it early means you won't have it available to test to see if you're ready for the OA, as it is intended; and 2) if the course materials have been updated since the Pre-A test bank was last updated, there will be relevant questions missing. The result is that if you only focus on learning subjects that you missed on the Pre-A, you may fail the OA as it could contain new material not included in the Pre-A.

I always recommend that students skim the textbook and other material and watch the recorded cohorts to get a sense of what is in the course and then use that to map out where they need to focus their studies. Then when they think they are ready for the OA, they can take the Pre-A to verify and pivot from there as needed. That is what I did and I ended up getting above 95% on all of my OA exams, including 2-3 that came back with 100%. But then again, I tend to overstudy since you really just need between a 60-70% to pass most courses.

I do think it is great when the course instructors offer secondary study material and example tests for people to take. They came in very handy for me when I was taking accounting, economics, and finance courses for my MBA. I occasionally have trouble with mixing up formulas so having more examples to work came in handy and helped me get very good at using my financial calculator.

Personally, I think the fact that they provide a pre-assessment at all is just there to make it easier for people to pass. It really isn't needed for people who study the course material in depth and engage with the cohorts and CI's. However, it is helpful for people who are trying to accelerate and for those who have a hard time getting through the material.

I suspect pre-assessments were put in place to avoid people flunking out of school. As opposed to PA's which you can retry as many times as you like, if you fail an OA exam five times, that is it. You're done and you cannot complete the course. Since there are no alternative courses, the effect is that you're done with that major and if you want to remain in school it means changing majors (or schools). So it is in WGU's best interest to make sure that the Pre-A and OA align as much as possible to keep their graduation rate high.

(07-07-2020, 09:55 PM)AwardTour Wrote: Don't get me wrong, I like WGU but my point is this, at Study.com I never really worried if the underlying course content and practice tests would align with the final proctored exam. At WGU, valid concerns about alignment between the course material, the PA, and the OA do pop up as a concern sometimes. Transfer what you can not only in the name of saving money, but also in the name of speed and sanity.

This is a valid concern, but it is not something people need to worry about for all WGU courses. It is really only a problem for courses that are in flux and the pre-A hasn't been brought up to speed yet. Of course, you don't always know which courses those are.

But I do agree that you should aim to take as many ACE provider credits as possible and transfer in all 90 credits. This means you can avoid having to pay for more than one term, but it also reduces the number of potential courses that might have Pre-A vs. OA misalignment issues.

The exception to that rule is for people who are planning to pursue grad school. In that case, it is best for all your core courses to be taken as real college courses. If your grad school wants 60 "graded" credits then you will want to aim to take 60cu from WGU rather than 30cu. This is because many grad schools won't count ACE credit and won't allow ACE courses to satisfy degree pre-requisites. This means if you get in, you will likely have to retake pre-requisite courses as "leveling" courses from the school at regular undergrad tuition.

On the other hand, I have been told that the score you earn at SL and SDC comes across as a grade on your WGU transcript now, so people are saying that they can bump up the effective GPA from WGU above a 3.0 by directly submitting transcripts from SL/SDC and transferring in courses that come in with an A or over 90% score. I cannot verify that myself, but I read that on the WGU forums recently. That suggests that if you just want CR/PASS on them, you should filter those courses through an ACE transcript.
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#13
Thanks for the insight Merlin and AwardTour. This type of info is valuable for a prospective student and not easily found in one place.
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#14
Is their minimum age to enroll 18?
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#15
(07-15-2020, 09:43 AM)Clepper43 Wrote: Is their minimum age to enroll 18?

I believe so. 

That said, as a competency-based school, WGU probably isn't ideally suited for people right out of high school or those without at least some job experience. First of all, some of the degree programs require a certain amount of job experience, certifications, or prior college experience as part of the entrance requirements. Second, the main benefit of competency-based education is being able to move more quickly through the program by drawing on prior experience. Without that basis, it will probably take longer (and thus be more expensive) than attending one of the Big 3.

Of course, if someone takes the bulk of their classes via ACE providers with the goal of transferring in 90 credits to WGU, anyone can probably get through the last 30 credits in a single term if they can put in 40+ hours a week of study time, even if it requires learning all-new material for every course.
Working on: Debating whether I want to pursue a doctoral program or maybe another master's degree in 2022-23

Complete:
MBA (IT Management), 2019, Western Governors University
BSBA (Computer Information Systems), 2019, Thomas Edison State University
ASNSM (Computer Science), 2019, Thomas Edison State University

ScholarMatch College & Career Coach
WGU Ambassador
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