Ringing in the New Year is synonymous with making resolutions. For working adults resolving to advance employment, increase income or make a career change – the dawn of a new decade might provide the needed motivation to finally go back to school and earn a degree. To aid in the decision-making process, WGU Missouri is offering advice and scholarships to those looking to further their education in 2020.

“For those wanting to go back to school, finding a program that suits their schedules, goals, and financial situations is crucial to their success,” said WGU Missouri Chancellor Dr. Angie Besendorfer. “There are many affordable, flexible and high-demand degree programs available to working adults, and we are here to help individuals navigate the ever-changing landscape of learning.”

WGU Missouri suggests keeping the following in mind when choosing a school or program:

Identify your education and career goals. It’s important your chosen course of study is in line with your career goals and the degree you select is in-demand, relates to your field and is relevant to employers. If you are unsure what path might be best for you, speak with current or potential employers to determine what they value in a degree program or skillset. Having a clear understanding of what specific degree or program you need to pursue will provide confidence when searching for and selecting schools to fulfill your needs. 

Consider online options. Pick a school and program that will fit your schedule. For those going back to school while working full time, traditional schooling may not be a viable option. Luckily, many schools now offer flexible online programs that provide students the ability to take courses at their own pace and on their own schedule. Inquire about fully online degree programs before enrolling if it seems like the right fit for you.

See if your prior experience will count. Your work experience and previous education/training may mean you don’t have to start from scratch. Before enrolling, explore if your earned college credits will transfer into the chosen program of study. Workplace training and experiences may also help advance your degree, especially if your chosen school offers a competency-based approach to learning. This model allows students to measure their success on what they learn instead of time spent in the classroom and can significantly decrease the time to graduation.

Pay attention to tuition costs and financing options.  Find out what tuition costs – including books and fees – before enrolling. Research financial aid that may be available to you. Depending on your income, you may be eligible for a government grant, particularly a Pell grant, to help pay for your education. Speak with a financial advisor about other means of assistance that can lower your costs, and don’t forget to inquire about scholarships. Many employers also offer tuition reimbursement or assistance. Being diligent in this process will provide a better understanding as to what school or program is right for you and your financial situation.

Consider accreditation. To ensure your degree and any credits earned will be recognized by employers and other academic institutions, it’s important to verify a university’s accreditation before enrolling. The U.S. Department of Education publishes a list of nationally recognized accrediting agencies determined to be reliable authorities. It’s also good to request information on alumni placements, employer surveys, and graduate rankings to ensure you are getting the most out of your degree.

To help assist adults who plan to make higher education part of their new year’s resolution, WGU Missouri is offering up to $20,000 in scholarships. The “New Year Scholarship” is open through March 31, 2020. Each scholarship award is valued at up to $2,000 ($500 per term, for up to four terms) and can be applied to any of the 60+ master’s and bachelor’s degree programs offered through WGU Missouri. Scholarships are competitive and are awarded based on a candidate’s academic record, readiness for online study and current competency, as well as other considerations.

For more information about WGU Missouri or the New Year Scholarship, visit Missouri.wgu.edu.

About WGU Missouri

WGU Missouri is a competency-based, online university created to expand access to higher education for Missouri residents. The university offers more than 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the fields of business, K-12 teacher education, information technology, and health professions, including nursing. WGU Missouri faculty members provide one-on-one guidance, support, and instruction. 

Established through a partnership with nationally recognized Western Governors University, WGU Missouri is open to all qualified Missouri residents. The university is nonprofit and self-sustaining on flat-rate tuition of about $7,000 per year for most programs.

Degrees are granted under the accreditation of Western Governors University, which is accredited through the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). Teachers College programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), and nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE*).

*Western Governors University offers nursing programs that are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 5380, Washington DC 20036, 202-877-6791).