Western Governors University Review - 4 out of 5 Stars for the Big WGU

Western Governors University Review, by Birdie Blakely.

Despite the few negative Western Governors University reviews by students, I give it 4 out of 5 stars for the following reasons:

First and foremost, WGU seems to be highly regarded by a large number of reputable and influential corporations who hire WGU graduates without a blink. Employers who have hired Western Governors University graduates. This alone makes a WGU degree valuable.

Secondly, competency based learning is a joy to behold and even better to participate in. You can surge ahead as you wish and not feel tethered to the competency of the group. Competency based learning rewards effort and ability. I like that. Apparently, so do major employers.

Thirdly, the cost of a degree from WGU makes it an excellent value, especially if you have the time and ability to finish quickly. WGU offers over 100 degrees, is fully accredited and students are eligible for financial aid. The WGU FAFSA school code is 033394.

I reserve one star because of the reported grading issues and because WGU is less than twenty years old and therefore somewhat unproven. If I were able to choose between an historic land grand institution with a hefty reputation and WGU I would go with the land grant school.

Western Governors University (WGU) is a private, non-profit online only college. It was formed in 1997 by 19 western governor's. It is not a public college in the sense that it has not been established by a legislative action nor does it receive public funds for operating purposes.

WGU is unique among online colleges.

It does not have a campus like many other purely online colleges, but unlike its counterparts it is not for profit. It won't raise rates to boost the bottom line and indeed WGU's tuition rates have remained essentially the same for the last four years. ($5,780 per year.)

There are other aspects that make WGU unique (and cool). It uses a competency based learning model allowing students to finish coursework at their own pace. (A minimum level of completion is required.) 

If students are able it is possible for them to finish a four year degree in a much shorter time, substantially lowering the cost of the degree.

Despite the fact that WGU is an online only school with no campus, practically no history, and uses an unusual competency based system -- employers seemingly have embraced its graduates with open arms as evidenced by these survey results.

Survey from Western Governors University 2010 Annual Report

Now for the bad...

In online Western Governors University reviews students complain about the competency testing given at the end of each course. More than a few have said that the competency tests have very little to do with the information included in the coursework. (This also happens at other colleges on-campus courses... so... it may be user error... hard to tell.)

A number of students report feeling frustrated with their grade because assessments are done by low level employees who use haphazard, subjective methods. We don't know if this is true, but that's the buzz.

Some students complain about their mentors being lazy and unresponsive. (Every student is assigned a mentor who helps them navigate the coursework throughout their matriculation at WGU.) This may be true, but the easy fix is just to ask for a new mentor. A student can ask to reassigned to a new mentor at any time, for any reason.

If you have been a student at WGU please give us your opinion on our Western Governors University review page. We'd really like to hear about that grading problem. What did you experience?