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Western Governors University Review

Updated on February 17, 2013
Western Governors University Review
Western Governors University Review

I have read a lot of good and bad reviews of Western Governors University. I’d like to take a moment to share my experience with you.

First some background information. Western Governors University was establish by 19 former western governors, as a non-profit university. Yes you heard that correctly, non-profit! These governors put together $20,000,000 to establish the university as a way to educate the non-traditional student. The original school was developed in Utah, but WGU now has universities in Indiana and soon will be in Washington State. That said, location only matters to those trying to obtain financial aid from their state. Being an online university a qualifying student can be anywhere and take classes. Accessibility to a quality education is in my opinion the main attraction of WGU.

As a non-profit university WGU’s goal is to educate you as quickly as possible so that you can move on with your career. This is accomplished with minimal fees and accelerated learning while maintaining high educational standards. Accelerated learning with stringent standards. Sounds like a new approach doesn’t it. Opposed to traditional universities WGU requires that you master a course subject before you can advance. I’ll shed some light on this in a moment. First a bit on my experience with Western Governors University.

wgu video - A smart way to learn

As a non-profit university WGU’s goal is to educate you as quickly as possible so that you can move on with your career. This is accomplished with minimal fees and accelerated learning while maintaining high educational standards. Accelerated learning with stringent standards. Sounds like a new approach doesn’t it. Opposed to traditional universities WGU requires that you master a course subject before you can advance. I’ll shed some light on this in a moment. First a bit on my experience with Western Governors University.

I decided to apply to WGU after butting heads with the financial aid department of the local university. After a futile trip to handle their inquiries face-to-face, I came home and googled “cheap online colleges”. I found an article about Western Governors University and thought that this might be for me. I gave them a call and this is what transpired.

Upon calling WGU I was assigned an enrollment counselor who would take me through the process of applying to WGU. I thought that this was a bit odd. After all the colleges I had attended just sent a catalog, application, and their best wishes. Not WGU! They wanted someone right there guiding me through the application process. My enrollment counselor, let’s call him Hank, was a great asset. He educated me as to the requirements of attending WGU, as well as the application process and available financial aid. He streamlined the process for me and tracked my progress. Most importantly he kept me informed. We had scheduled conversations through the entire process.

In my situation I was applying to the Teachers College and had to fulfill some requirements before I could attend. This was a simple matter of picking up a course through, which would be transferred with my other credits. This was the one odd thing I found about western governors university. They want you to have previous college experience. I had already earned 159 credit hours, but I was required to have passed college algebra with a c or higher to transfer the credit. For my program this course was a prerequisite so I had to retake it. Not a big deal. $130 and 30 days later I had passed college algebra and was ready to continue my application with WGU. My enrollment counselor Hank tracked my progress the entire time. He helped me establish deadlines so that I could meet my goal of attending WGU on January 1st. He also tracked my enrollment application and financial aid so there wouldn’t be any hiccups in the process.

WGU Testimonials

Well the day finally came when I was accepted by Western Governors University and Hank kicked me out of the nest into the skillful hands of my mentor “Kelly”. Now Kelly is a well-educated individual whose sole purpose is to keep me on track. The first thing Kelly did was to help me develop my Degree Plan and helped me set my goals for the semester. She quickly got a feeling for my interests and strong suites then tailored courses to meet my needs. This was refreshing as I’d always been assigned courses and was told to “deal with it,” if I didn’t like the choices or compilation. At WGU your mentor’s job is to assist you in making viable choices and achieving your goals. They are also responsible for tracking your progress. Each week I have a scheduled phone call with my mentor during which we set my weekly goals. Not semester goals, weekly goals. We accomplish our semester goals one week at a time.

At the beginning of the semester my mentor (Kelly) and I schedule 12-15 credit hours. If I accomplish this goal early I can complete other courses and draw them into the semester. After all you have 6 months to complete your course work, why not double the load. That is what’s great about WGU. You are paying for the semester, not the credit hours. This semester I plan on completing 40 credit hours. At $2945 for the semester that’s only $74/credit hour. That is substantially lower than any four year school I’m familiar with. Now I know you’re thinking how could I pass 40 credit hours in one semester. Good question.

The curriculum at WGU is either task oriented (performance assessments) or mastery based (objective assessments). For example to pass class x I may have to complete five tasks. As I am not sitting in a classroom with set goals, I can complete these tasks at my leisure. I do the research, I complete the tasks demonstrating my competency, I pass the course. Did you notice the word competency. You have to demonstrate competency in a course subject before you can pass and move on. There are no c’s or d’s at WGU. You have to complete a course with a 3.0 equivalence or higher to pass a course. If you can’t, then you have to change programs or leave Western Governors University. Sounds harsh? There’s that stringent standard we spoke of earlier. WGU is a pass or fail school, there is no middle standard.

Now let’s look at class “y”. Class “y” requires that I take a comprehensive exam demonstrating my mastery of a subject. There are a couple of approaches to this. First you can go through all the course work and take the pre-assessment for the final exam. If you pass the pre-assessment you are allowed to schedule your final exam. If not, you go back and study those areas you are weak in. This is great if you are already proficient in a subject. Say for example you are a natural sciences nut like me. I’ve taken 5 courses related to the natural sciences and pre-assessed high enough in each to take the final. This shaved 20 credit hours off my degree plan in a hurry.

Western Governors University has established a program that allows you to excel and achieve you goals at your pace. They are affordable and success oriented. If you are interested in earning your degree online this may be the place for you, but I will say that WGU is not for everyone. If you want to sleep through class and earn a “passing” grade, you may want to look elsewhere.

Western Governors University Graduation

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    • collegedad profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from The Upper Peninsula

      I'm glad to hear that you graduated and are now employed. No, I'm not employed by WGU. In fact, I'm still a student and will graduate next spring.

      I think you hit the nail on the head. When you earn any degree you leave with an understanding of the content. Your abilities develop over time. I have been substitute teaching for a few years now so I get to experience the classroom first hand. Many teaching student have never been in the classroom in a teaching capacity. Therefore, they must develop their teaching skills in the classroom. Student teaching helps, but it can't address all of the issues.

      Yes, financial aid can be annoying. It is with any university. I call the school every month to verify my financial aid.I've done this with every college that I have attended.

      My course mentors have been helpful. Most have contacted me when they see that I'm having difficulty with a task. I've only had a couple that didn't meet my standards. My first student mentor was exceptional. She was on the ball and tracked her students well. She would send me information related to my coursework and would stay on top of me until I completed it. My current course mentor takes an "I'm here if you need me" approach. That said, she contacts me every week to make sure that I'm on track and I know that she's only a phone call away. My wife on the other hand had a mentor that could care less. She simply asked for a new mentor and moved on. It happens.

      The only problems I've had with testing have been related to the online proctoring. That's mostly because I'm a big guy and it's hard to get all of me, the monitor, and the keyboard all in the same frame.

      I hate subjective questions, which is another difficulty for me. They are common in testing and were also on my Praxis II and state content exam. Subjective questions always leaving me wondering if I was correct, which drives me nuts!

      Would I still recommend WGU? You bet. Would I recommend Capella or one of the other online schools? I sure would. You must find the right fit for you! I'll graduate from WGU in the spring, but I won't return for my master's degree. I intend on taking my Master's at another school that will allow me to progress into my Doctorate.

      I suggest that you use caution when choosing a college. At worst you'll be in debt for a semester's tuition if you choose the wrong school. For me WGU has worked well and I'm happy with my results.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I have to say something to the author of this article. I know this is an old article so I hope this still reaches you.

      If you went to Western Governor's University, I did, and was in the teachers program and did graduate fyi. So was my best friend and she also graduated. I would like to know which mentor you had and what financial aid office you dealt with? I would also like to know if you now work for W.G.U.? By the way your article reads it sounds like it. For those who won't understand this question or its motive, W.G.U. does a lot of recruiting of their own students to work for them if you are their kind of drone, they will offer. These types of articles are often written by these past student, now employee models.

      As a former student and graduate I will say this. The curriculum is appropriately difficult for some. It gets you the degree so you can get a teaching job and then spend the first 3 teaching years, learning to be a teacher.

      The financial aid department is a joke.

      The course mentors are 98% lazy, the idea of course mentor assistance is great. A course mentor who refers you to a video or refers you to the original reading material is not doing their job, I experienced this 99% of the time. The course mentors are all over the country and they do not read or know or care about the material you are learning.

      In 3 years I found one student mentor that was honest, helpful and kind. I found 4 student mentors who were dishonest, unhelpful, lazy and downright condescending and rude.

      Don't speak against the W.G.U. machine. Even if they are wrong and you are correct, even if it is VERY important. You will get ignored first, push again and you will be threatened. Say "but, 9 questions on this 68 question objective exam have no option of the correct answer"...(you must answer wrong to pass) will be told you didn't study, threatened will retaliation and then given a disposition warning. And just for the record that exam was pulled 6 months later after they had students leave and students angry and frustrated because they couldn't pass.

      Would I still recommend this school? It would greatly depend on the student.

      If you are willing to be a drone, compromise your ethics in order to get to the end. Compromise your will, smile and nod, say yes ma'am and yes sir when in your mind you want to say absolutely not. If you can do this for 2-4 years... I applaud you, just be aware of what you are actually getting yourself into.

    • collegedad profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from The Upper Peninsula

      I am sorry that you had such a poor experience. Mine has been outstanding and I just found out that our local school system is in the process of forming an alliance with WGU that would allow me to do my student teaching locally.

      You may want to look into Capella University. They accept WGU credits and degrees. They also offer several IT degrees including Master's and Doctoral.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I started a Bachelors Degree at WGU in Network Administration. I already had my Associates. Upon starting I was a little confused about how the degree actually works. I spoke with the degree mentor every week and the phone calls were pointless. she asked "hows it going, anything i can do to help. what's your goal for the next week?" and that was it.

      Each week she would tell me I'm one week closer to my goal which was getting into the masters degree program in Information Security. I worked my tail off to finish the degree in about a year. That included 5-6 hours a day of studying and every weekend I spent the whole weekend studying. You teach yourself the stuff, there are no teachers. The hardest part was the essays. If you do a perfect essay you are transitioning from one subtopic to another within the essay. However, to get credit you have to go along the grading rubric and state which part of the rubric is in each paragraph at the beginning of the paragraph because it's a 3rd party company overseas that grades them and they don't look for what the essay includes, they only look for the first sentence or two in a paragraph.

      Halfway through the degree I inquired about switching from Network Admin to Security because my goal, which you tell them in the entrance essay, was the Masters Degree. The degree mentor AND the academic advisor agreed that switching would add an additional year to my degree but if I dropped the major altogether I could graduate sooner and get into the masters degree sooner. So that's what i did.

      Upon graduating I found out that the month BEFORE they suggested this to me they changed their policy and I was not eligible for the Masters Degree. I called everyone and they wont accept their own degree and by accelerating the program to graduate in less than the normal time I accelerated myself right out of being eligible.

      So, i filed complaints and they went nowhere. Then I started focusing on going somewhere else but no schools will accept their degree. Most schools wouldn't accept anything because there is no GPA. They had to look into the school further and all of them refused to accept the degree. WGU said that they are nationally and regionally accredited but it doesn't mean anything if the military wont accept their degree, other schools wont accept the degree and they don't accept their own degree.

      Go somewhere else. I'm just lucky that i only wasted 1 year and 6000 dollars but now that I have my Bachelors, I don't qualify for Pell Grant and student loans wont pay for a second bachelors after the first one is completed so I'm now paying out of pocket for a bachelors degree.

    • collegedad profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from The Upper Peninsula

      No problem.

      I feel that the classwork is rigorous, more so than that of other universities I've attended. If you follow the course plan, it will prepare you for your future career. That said, like any course work you get back what you put into it. I fished through college the first time showing only to take tests and receive homework assignments. I graduated with a good (not great) gpa. With WGU I could glean enough from the materials to pass without complete knowledge of the subject matter, but I feel that I am paying for a quality education so I make sure that I consume every bit of the information provided.

      The instructions for the tasks are complete. If you combine the instructions with the rubrics provided, you can quickly develop a picture of what is required for the task. Always read the rubric. It is your best friend at WGU. You can also refer to the course mentors. They are quick to respond and more than willing to assist.

      I have recommended WGU to dozens of people that are looking for a quality education. Even my wife is a WGU student.

      I've only been stuck once and I called a course mentor and they squared things away for me quickly. They really want you to succeed.

      I've found that WGU wants you complete your curriculum at your pace, but they want you to get the biggest bang for your buck. The more you accomplish during the semester the happier they are.

    • Mandy M S profile image

      Mandy M S 

      6 years ago

      I'm glad to hear that! I'm hoping to do what will likely be about 6 semesters of work in 4.

      I have a few questions, if you don't want to answer them, feel free not to, but you're the first WGU student that I've found, and I'm very excited about the prospect of WGU, but want to be cautious also!

      Do you feel that WG a quality education with classes that prepare you for your future career? Do you find the instructions for the tasks required clear, do you feel like you always know (or can figure out with the resources available) what you need to do? Would you recommend WGU to others? Do you feel that you can get the help you need if you get stuck during a class? So sorry to bombard you with questions!

    • collegedad profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from The Upper Peninsula

      It's going well. I'm on my third semester with two to go. The ability to take as many courses as possible allows you to advance through your classes quickly. This is the only university I've found that wants you to graduate early!

    • Mandy M S profile image

      Mandy M S 

      6 years ago

      Thanks for this Hub. Right now I am considering returning to school to become what I've always wanted to be, a teacher. Looking into my options there is a Public U 75 miles away, a private college 35 miles away (and 35k a year!) and looking for an alternative I came across WGU. I'm really doing my research though. It's encouraging to see your positive review. I am wondering though, how's it going now?

    • collegedad profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from The Upper Peninsula

      I can't agree more. I looked at my transcripts from the university I attended 25 years ago and wonder why the ever allowed me to graduate. WGU produces a quality student and potential employee. I know that everyone I talk to in my proposed field is amazed with the program, price, and the motivation given by the mentors.

    • profile image

      grace crammer 

      6 years ago

      thank you for posting this article. i do believe the knowledge about the excellencies of wgu needs to be broadcast as widely as possible. heaven knows how many would have had their lives changed because of the opportunities opened by graduating from wgu.


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