A few weeks ago I wrote that requiring a bachelor’s degree is an increasingly common way for employers to filter applicants, even when job performance doesn’t necessarily demand four years of college.
For adults who didn’t go the college or university route, the degree demand can be a career barrier. They can’t advance, but they can’t afford the time or money to pursue a bachelor’s or, in some cases, a master’s degree.
For some, notably in manufacturing, skilled trades, nursing and information technology, community colleges are wonderful options for getting more education and professional credentials. But two-year degrees and certifications may not vault the bachelor’s barrier.
That’s why I was interested to meet Angie Besendorfer, chancellor of WGU Missouri. She leads a state-based part of the Western Governors University network, on online provider of certain bachelor’s and master’s degrees. The nonprofit network, founded by 19 U.S. governors, now has national enrollment along with five state partnerships, including Missouri’s, that offer courses designed to teach what employers have said they need employees to master.
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WGU provides a straight shot, on a student’s own time, to study and pass tests tied to specific, career-related competencies. Its headline description is “accredited degree programs for busy adults.”
This isn’t a university experience in the traditional sense. There are no elective requirements, no mind-expanding forays into other disciplines. But the option could, at less time and expense, help people prove mastery of professional material and gain degree credentials necessary to move up in their jobs.