WGU's mission goes beyond offering affordable college classes. It is committed to providing students with access to opportunities and a path to a better life.
The university built its entire curriculum and reputation on the results it drives for students. For example, WGU proudly reports that graduates see an average salary increase of more than $11,000 within two years of graduation. And survey data showing that 97% of employers say WGU grads meet or exceed their expectations.
To prepare students for successful careers, the school’s curriculum focuses on four high-demand fields: K–12 teaching and education, nursing and healthcare, information technology, and business. WGU’s more than 60 degree programs are designed to fit a high-growth, highly rewarding career path.
The importance of increasing graduation rates.
But the key to fulfilling the school’s mission is finding ways to help students who are busy juggling jobs, family, and other responsibilities to complete their studies.
Every university is concerned about graduation rates. Under ideal conditions, just 59.8%4 of full-time students attending traditional universities complete their undergraduate studies within six years. WGU’s completion rates are difficult to compare, since the Department of Education only counts first-time, full-time students and excludes the non-traditional, returning students that comprise 95% of WGU’s student body. However, the school projects its six-year graduation rate for undergraduate students will be 52% in 2021, and it has set a goal of 65% by 2025.
To reach this objective, WGU helps students overcome challenges that can interrupt their studies.
In 2020, one challenge was the pandemic, which hit students hard. A significant number of those who had relied on work computers or office internet to attend classes and complete their coursework lost their jobs and broadband access, at the same time. That made it difficult to stay in school.
The Online Access Scholarship.
In response, WGU created a $1 million Online Access Scholarship fund to keep students in school by underwriting the cost of broadband access and devices needed to carry on with classes.
The program, originally designed to help about 1,000 students, has expanded and is available to both existing and prospective students. And Online Access Scholarship awardees may also qualify for a Resiliency Grant, a needs-based tuition scholarship which helps students pay for school.