St. Louis on the Air
5:14 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

First WGU Missouri Commencement Is Saturday

Credit (via Flickr/j.o.h.n. walker)

Online education seems to be the wave of the future. Today's college students should have no problem finding courses online — whether at a local college or university, or through an accredited online college.

Eighteen months after opening its virtual doors, Western Governors University Missouri's first commencement will take place Saturday; nearly 200 students will graduate with either a bachelor's or master's degree. WGU Missouri is part of Western Governors University, an online nonprofit university created by governors that caters to nontraditional students.

“Online education is very effective when you look at what employers say about our graduates,” WGU Missouri Chancellor Angie Besendorfer said. “When we survey employers, we find that 97 percent say that a WGU graduate is as good or better than a graduate from another university. But of that 97 percent, 57 percent say they’re better.”

WGU Missouri’s typical student is 39, older than traditional college students, Besendorfer said. Most students have already started college at some point, and Besendorfer said 71 percent of them also work full-time.

“I knew I wouldn't be able to attend school in a traditional way," said graduate April Fadness of Moberly, who will speak at Saturday’s commencement ceremony and worked full-time while attending classes.

Fadness technically graduated in May. Having received her Missouri teaching certification, she starts a new job Monday as a special education teacher in Moberly. Fadness already has enrolled in WGU Missouri courses for a master’s degree.

“WGU is self-sustaining on about $6,000 tuition per year from each student,” Besendorfer said. “The real difference with that is that that’s an all-you-can-learn model. So it’s a flat fee for all that a student can get done.

“A student can begin in any given month, and a student can graduate in any given month,” she said.

St. Louis on the Air discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh.

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