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Why I am (probably) going to drop out of the WGU MSML program...

colemiccolemic Member Posts: 1,569 ■■■■■■■□□□
After much thought, I think I have decided that WGU’s Management and Leadership degree isn’t right for me.

My first experience with WGU was with the MSISA degree, and I loved it (although there were some things I would have changed, I felt I learned quite a bit, and validated a lot of what I already knew.) I would divide degrees from WGU into two sections – technical degrees (such as the IT tracks), and non-technical (such as the MSML.)

For the technical degrees: WGU is a godsend – finally, there was a legit way to translate technical knowledge and certs into college-level credit! No one in the tech community would argue that certain certifications require extensive, validated knowledge to pass, and as far as I know, WGU is the only college/university tie together that specific, useful knowledge to college credit. WGU is filling a huge need, that is not being met by other (i.e., traditional) schools, and has provided a mechanism for those beyond their ‘college glory years’ (thinking of you, Frank the Tank!) to complete higher education degrees - to either fulfill goals that life got in the way of, or to advance professionally. Sure, I wish some things were different, but overall, the MSISA has been a significant value for me.

For the non-technical degrees: digital books (that are simply online versions of textbooks that were specifically designed to be written in) and pdf files are, in my humble opinion, not enough to truly master the material within. For these degrees, there is a key ingredient missing from the learning equation. For example – I can read a book, and, with rote memorization, pass an objective assessment. The problem is, I haven’t learned the material. And from the tech perspective, if you think this counts as learning, then you should have no issues with brain dumping, because it’s the exact same thing – intentional (intended) short term retention to pass a class (or cert.) Frankly, you could chain a high school kid to a desk, and eventually, they would absorb enough to pass the test… but they wouldn’t necessarily have learned the material. There is no way to measure what is actually learned correctly, retained, and put into practice.

For leadership topics, specifically, I have a hard time understanding how this material can be learned in a practical manner without some kind of public dialogue/discourse amongst the learning community. This isn’t technical concepts, but abstract ideas, theories, and principles that require more than reading a book to grasp and comprehend… they require discussion, elaboration, and context to be learned effectively (unless rote memorization is the goal.) That’s exactly why you don’t see English, World Lit, or Comparative Language Analysis degrees offered online. For such an abstract degree, there needs to be some kind of structured interaction, even if it was recorded lectures. As it stands now, this degree doesn’t meet my standards of learning material at a Master’s level.

Aside from that, the biggest issue that I see with the non-technical degrees, is the lack of course mentor participation. And before we go too far, let me be clear: the course mentors have an important job: to facilitate interaction, and provide additional insight/clarity into the course where a student runs into difficulty. And, to be fair, in my current course (going on 5 weeks), I have not contacted the mentor. However, in my current course, the course mentors are totally non-existent on the only publicly-viewable method of communication: myWGU Communities. As far as I can tell, for my current course, there are a total of 27 posts, of which two actually have replies (one thread has 7, and one has 1 – and a course mentor has only replied to one, and that was in May.) 20 of the threads were created by the course mentors as a placeholder for asking questions, and one course mentor has made ZERO appearances in the learning community, ever.

I understand that this is a fairly new course, and they have probably assisted students via email, but to go over 3 months with no activity from the course mentors – that doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that they would be there if I did have a question, either publicly (some threads asking questions have been open for months with no response) or privately.

I want my degree to be valuable. I want it to have meaning; to have purpose; and for the title of Master’s degree to indicate a mastery of the indicated subject matter, and that isn’t happening for me in this degree program, so I am probably going to drop it.

Don't get me wrong -I love WGU, and the value it provides in technical degree areas, and they are filling a huge need... but not for me, in this area.

Going forward, I just found out that Texas Tech has a working professionals’ MBA (one weekend a month), that might be doable starting next year… I am tapped out on GI Bill (thank you, taxpayers!) but still have all of my Hazelwood funds. Gonna need a lot of thought and prayer before I do that though (and wife’s blessing!)
Working on: staying alive and staying employed

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    abyssinicaabyssinica Member Posts: 97 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Good decision tbh.

    There is no point if there aren't real lecturers in a degree program. If you're going to spend on a degree, might as well get one of some value.
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    da_vatoda_vato Member Posts: 445
    I was wondering how this degree was working out for you, sorry to hear the less than pleasing experience. Thanks for the thorough review, this helped remove this degree from my list of possibilities.
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    IristheangelIristheangel Mod Posts: 4,133 Mod
    It's not for everyone. I was actually bored by the MSISA degree. I found the degree difficult just because of how dry the material was. That probably added to how long it took me to finish my degree. In hindsight, I'm glad I got the degree but I wouldn't go after another MS degree again. That's just me tho. Good luck at your next school
    BS, MS, and CCIE #50931
    Blog: www.network-node.com
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    JamesKurtovichJamesKurtovich Member Posts: 195
    abyssinica wrote: »
    Good decision tbh.

    There is no point if there aren't real lecturers in a degree program. If you're going to spend on a degree, might as well get one of some value.

    That's why I'm hesitant when it comes to WGU. It sounds like you're given some reading material and told "Good luck."
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    srabieesrabiee Member Posts: 1,231 ■■■■■■■■□□
    If you're disciplined, self-motivated, and have no trouble with "self-study," then WGU's compentency-based, learn-at-your-own-pace pedagogy is wonderful.

    Remember, some of us don't have the luxury of going to a brick and mortar university. Others learn more efficiently by means of self studying in the comfort of their own homes.

    The school is regionally accredited and the tuition is inexpensive.

    WGU isn't for everyone, but it's a great school, and certainly isn't a "diploma mill" as some of the newer forum members have been spouting as of late. I hate to see the OP drop out, but everyone has to decide what's best for themselves.

    I'm looking to start the MSIT: IT Management degree in the next couple of months. I hope it's not boring. I found the BSIT: ND&M degree to be really fun and engaging. I'm sitting here typing up my capstone paper right now.
    WGU Progress: Master of Science - Information Technology Management (Start Date: February 1, 2015)
    Completed: LYT2, TFT2, JIT2, MCT2, LZT2, SJT2 (17 CU's)
    Required: FXT2, MAT2, MBT2, C391, C392 (13 CU's)

    Bachelor of Science - Information Technology Network Design & Management (WGU - Completed August 2014)
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    AverageJoeAverageJoe Member Posts: 316 ■■■■□□□□□□
    srabiee wrote: »
    The school is regionally accredited and the tuition is inexpensive.

    I think WGU fills an important niche, and I'm glad for it. But it is only inexpensive if students can complete their degree program quickly. Students who take longer to self-teach can wind up paying much more than they would at other schools. To me that is the biggest problem with the WGU model... if you can only dedicate a small amount of time each week or you're just slow at getting through the material, you still pay the full time tuition rate. Then it is far from inexpensive.
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    DonDealDonDeal Member Posts: 33 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Two 6 month terms at WGU is only 6k. That's hard to complain about even if you take your time.
    Master of Public Administration - 50% complete
    Master of Science: Information Security and Assurance
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    IristheangelIristheangel Mod Posts: 4,133 Mod
    I'm with DonDeal on this one. If you take 2 years to complete a MS degree at WGU, it's still only $12K total. That's far from expensive for a graduate degree from a regionally and nationally accredited school
    BS, MS, and CCIE #50931
    Blog: www.network-node.com
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    abyssinicaabyssinica Member Posts: 97 ■■■□□□□□□□
    LordSevink wrote: »
    That's why I'm hesitant when it comes to WGU. It sounds like you're given some reading material and told "Good luck."
    It clearly has a model that is very different from degrees in most universities...okay not just "most" universities, but more importantly, the good universities. The prestigious and good universities think that lecturer guidance is very important. So why doesn't WGU...

    People say "you have to be disciplined and do it on your own" or whatever. However I still think neglecting to have active and qualified lecturers is a bad idea. As if you don't have to be disciplined to do work under a lecturer?? They will tell you what needs fixing, and will put a lot of pressure on you to do your best, so much for discipline comparisons. I mean there's nothing wrong with doing WGU but when people act elitist about "doing it on their own" it's just not acceptable...
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    srabieesrabiee Member Posts: 1,231 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Edit: bah, it isn't worth it. I've said my peace, and I'll leave it at that. You guys do what's best for you, and good luck to you.
    WGU Progress: Master of Science - Information Technology Management (Start Date: February 1, 2015)
    Completed: LYT2, TFT2, JIT2, MCT2, LZT2, SJT2 (17 CU's)
    Required: FXT2, MAT2, MBT2, C391, C392 (13 CU's)

    Bachelor of Science - Information Technology Network Design & Management (WGU - Completed August 2014)
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    AverageJoeAverageJoe Member Posts: 316 ■■■■□□□□□□
    DonDeal wrote: »
    Two 6 month terms at WGU is only 6k. That's hard to complain about even if you take your time.

    Sure, but see, that's 1 year... and 1 or 2 years is not considered taking your time for most folks when talking about completing a degree. It's generally thought of as an aggressive schedule. There are many folks who only dedicate enough time to complete 3 to 6 credits in a semester... and if that's the pace you're at, then a more traditional school can be much cheaper. That's all I'm saying.

    For example, for my first master's degree (I have 4), I took about 6 years. I was in no rush and I almost never took more than 1 class per term. I had a very demanding day job, had small children, and was very deliberate in how I pursued that graduate degree. It worked for me, and I would never suggest everyone should (or shouldn't) do it my way.

    In my circumstances, my class load was always low, I could easily dedicate enough time to do well in each class, and it had almost zero negative impact on my day job or family time while I was taking classes. In a case like that, WGU is a horrible deal in comparison. My tuition was about $1000 per class for 12 classes, that's $12,000. To do similar with WGU would cost about $6k per year for 6 years, that's $36K because WGU doesn't care that I am happy earning only 6-9 credits a year.

    A lot of people want to earn a degree as fast as possible, and that's great! Really. But some people want to earn a degree without intruding too much on the balance they already have in their lives. It really depends on your goals and how you intend to work to achieve them.
    I'm with DonDeal on this one. If you take 2 years to complete a MS degree at WGU, it's still only $12K total. That's far from expensive for a graduate degree from a regionally and nationally accredited school

    Yes, that's absolutely true! So if you can self-teach and if you can complete your degree within 2 years, WGU is a pretty good deal. Not everyone can self-teach and not everyone can finish in that time period. When those two conditions aren't a given, WGU's model becomes much less attractive.
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    iBrokeITiBrokeIT Member Posts: 1,318 ■■■■■■■■■□
    abyssinica wrote: »
    People say "you have to be disciplined and do it on your own" or whatever. However I still think neglecting to have active and qualified lecturers is a bad idea. As if you don't have to be disciplined to do work under a lecturer??

    It's is pretty clear from your posts that you haven't done your research on WGU and for some reason feel threatened by it.

    Every course has a "qualified lecturer" you can speak with and receive 1:1 time if you need personal assistance or need a subject explained in more detail. A lot of the courses also have recorded lectures.
    AverageJoe wrote: »
    In my circumstances, my class load was always low, I could easily dedicate enough time to do well in each class, and it had almost zero negative impact on my day job or family time while I was taking classes. In a case like that, WGU is a horrible deal in comparison. My tuition was about $1000 per class for 12 classes, that's $12,000. To do similar with WGU would cost about $6k per year for 6 years, that's $36K because WGU doesn't care that I am happy earning only 6-9 credits a year.

    A lot of people want to earn a degree as fast as possible, and that's great! Really. But some people want to earn a degree without intruding too much on the balance they already have in their lives. It really depends on your goals and how you intend to work to achieve them.

    Yes, that's absolutely true! So if you can self-teach and if you can complete your degree within 2 years, WGU is a pretty good deal. Not everyone can self-teach and not everyone can finish in that time period. When those two conditions aren't a given, WGU's model becomes much less attractive.

    WGU requires that you have the availability to study 20 hours a week and complete 12 CUs per 6 month term as an undergrad student (or 8 CUs per 6 month term as a grad student so your comparison) would never actually come into play.

    These posts remind me of users that irrationally fear change and lash out at it because they don't want to take the time to fully understand it.
    2019: GPEN | GCFE | GXPN | GICSP | CySA+ 
    2020: GCIP | GCIA 
    2021: GRID | GDSA | Pentest+ 
    2022: GMON | GDAT
    2023: GREM  | GSE | GCFA

    WGU BS IT-NA | SANS Grad Cert: PT&EH | SANS Grad Cert: ICS Security | SANS Grad Cert: Cyber Defense Ops SANS Grad Cert: Incident Response
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    AverageJoeAverageJoe Member Posts: 316 ■■■■□□□□□□
    iBrokeIT wrote: »
    WGU requires that you have the availability to study 20 hours a week and complete 12 CUs per 6 month term as an undergrad student (or 8 CUs per 6 month term as a grad student so your comparison) would never actually come into play.

    Well, that may well cover someone like me who deliberately knew going in that he was going to take it slow, but it doesn't take into account that people over estimate how fast they can complete things. There are quite a few messages and posts out there from folks who started the program and simply couldn't maintain the fast pace required to make it a good deal. I saw a post last night from someone who wound up paying the $3k and received only 3 CUs for the term. Does it happen to everyone? Of course not. But to say it cannot come into play is wrong. Life happens.
    iBrokeIT wrote: »
    These posts remind me of users that irrationally fear change and lash out at it because they don't want to take the time to fully understand it.

    Now wait a second. Why is that just because I don't think that WGU is the best solution in every case that you'd compare it to an irrational fear and lashing out?

    See, this is, more than anything, what hurts WGU's reputation here. Some WGU supporters and advocates are so intolerant of any and all criticism that they alienate and condemn those who don't think WGU is the perfect fit. I did nothing to lash out and I certainly showed no sign of fear. I tried to be very respectful of the people choosing the WGU option, and I even acknowledged that WGU can be a great deal and that I'm glad it exists. I simply pointed out that it's not the right model for everyone. And for that I'm told that I shouldn't consider it expensive (I pointed out why and how it can be and a little Googling confirms my concern), and now I'm labeled with apparently having an irrational fear of change.

    I'm glad WGU students are happy with their program. Really. But there's no reason for some WGU advocates to be so critical of those who don't see WGU as the perfect solution to everyone's education needs.

    To me, this overreaction paints those WGU advocates as zealots trying to rationalize their school choice. It's unnecessary. We can all see there are merits to the program, and most of us are happy to learn more about the school so we can make sure our friends and co-workers are aware (I steered someone to WGU a couple of weeks ago). I consider it a great model for experienced IT workers who want to quickly check off degree completion. But just because I don't think it's the right solution for everyone does not make me irrational or afraid.
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    JoJoCal19JoJoCal19 Mod Posts: 2,835 Mod
    abyssinica wrote: »
    It clearly has a model that is very different from degrees in most universities...okay not just "most" universities, but more importantly, the good universities. The prestigious and good universities think that lecturer guidance is very important. So why doesn't WGU...

    People say "you have to be disciplined and do it on your own" or whatever. However I still think neglecting to have active and qualified lecturers is a bad idea. As if you don't have to be disciplined to do work under a lecturer?? They will tell you what needs fixing, and will put a lot of pressure on you to do your best, so much for discipline comparisons. I mean there's nothing wrong with doing WGU but when people act elitist about "doing it on their own" it's just not acceptable...

    I went to a very well known and respected state university for my undergrad. The tenured professor and lecture system is outdated and not very effective in my opinion. I think I actually listened to 5 lectures my entire time during the three years of my Bachelors degree. I taught myself by reading and doing the assignments on my own, same way I do with certifications. Had I been able to work ahead I would have been able to do the degree in two years or less. But instead as people have pointed out, you have to do a little each week, and stretch it out. And too, most of what you learn in traditional schools is theory. WGU tests on competency. Stuff you can go out and apply in the real world. I honestly wish all state schools would adopt the competency based and flexible nature of WGU.
    Have: CISSP, CISM, CISA, CRISC, eJPT, GCIA, GSEC, CCSP, CCSK, AWS CSAA, AWS CCP, OCI Foundations Associate, ITIL-F, MS Cyber Security - USF, BSBA - UF, MSISA - WGU
    Currently Working On: Python, OSCP Prep
    Next Up:​ OSCP
    Studying:​ Code Academy (Python), Bash Scripting, Virtual Hacking Lab Coursework
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    iBrokeITiBrokeIT Member Posts: 1,318 ■■■■■■■■■□
    AverageJoe wrote: »
    Now wait a second. Why is that just because I don't think that WGU is the best solution in every case that you'd compare it to an irrational fear and lashing out?

    See, this is, more than anything, what hurts WGU's reputation here. Some WGU supporters and advocates are so intolerant of any and all criticism that they alienate and condemn those who don't think WGU is the perfect fit.

    There is difference between well reasoned criticism (which Colemic offered) and attacks that aren't based fact or reality (like your previous post and abyssinic's post). If you are going to criticize WGU, alteast get your facts straight first - maybe that's what bothers the "zealots"?

    You are right about one thing, WGU isn't for everyone nor does it claim to be because there is no single institution that is right for everyone.
    2019: GPEN | GCFE | GXPN | GICSP | CySA+ 
    2020: GCIP | GCIA 
    2021: GRID | GDSA | Pentest+ 
    2022: GMON | GDAT
    2023: GREM  | GSE | GCFA

    WGU BS IT-NA | SANS Grad Cert: PT&EH | SANS Grad Cert: ICS Security | SANS Grad Cert: Cyber Defense Ops SANS Grad Cert: Incident Response
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    colemiccolemic Member Posts: 1,569 ■■■■■■■□□□
    Lots of stimulating discussion in here, that's good.
    abyssinica wrote: »
    Good decision tbh.

    There is no point if there aren't real lecturers in a degree program. If you're going to spend on a degree, might as well get one of some value.

    I would disagree with that - I completed the MSISA and never felt like lectures were a missing ingredient, or necessary. That's part of why I feel that WGU is more suited to technical degrees, as opposed to humanities.
    It's not for everyone. I was actually bored by the MSISA degree. I found the degree difficult just because of how dry the material was. That probably added to how long it took me to finish my degree. In hindsight, I'm glad I got the degree but I wouldn't go after another MS degree again. That's just me tho. Good luck at your next school

    After much thought I don't know what I am going to do next. Who knows I may stick it out. Or, instead of another MS degree, I may try to use my rollover year of GI Bill for Stanford's Advanced Computer Security certificate, or Harvard Extension School for Business Communications... not near as much of a commitment. I am on the fence as to whether something business-oriented (like Harvard Extension) would be more beneficial, as in well-rounded and familiar with business, or if it is better to keep specializing in InfoSec.
    abyssinica wrote: »
    It clearly has a model that is very different from degrees in most universities...okay not just "most" universities, but more importantly, the good universities. The prestigious and good universities think that lecturer guidance is very important. So why doesn't WGU...

    I would be very careful not to confuse the importance of lecturers with 'the way it's always been done.' As others have said, higher ed is being disrupted left and right, prestigious and good universities included... their opinion on how they prefer to model their classes doesn't necessarily reflect the best way to accomplish teaching (or learning) and WGU and others have proved that without doubt.
    JoJoCal19 wrote: »
    I went to a very well known and respected state university for my undergrad. The tenured professor and lecture system is outdated and not very effective in my opinion. I think I actually listened to 5 lectures my entire time during the three years of my Bachelors degree. I taught myself by reading and doing the assignments on my own, same way I do with certifications. Had I been able to work ahead I would have been able to do the degree in two years or less. But instead as people have pointed out, you have to do a little each week, and stretch it out. And too, most of what you learn in traditional schools is theory. WGU tests on competency. Stuff you can go out and apply in the real world. I honestly wish all state schools would adopt the competency based and flexible nature of WGU.

    WGU tests on competency only in technical areas... For the MSML degree, I don't see how WGU's assessment process (papers and a proctored exam) differ any from a B&M school. They can call it whatever they want, they're both assessments that don't really analyze competency, just theory.

    And please don't misunderstand, like I said, I love WGU and am glad I finished the MSISA... my criticism is for non-technical courses that require somewhat different analyses and thought processes than technical knowledge. The MSML is missing a key ingredient, and I am not saying it is (just) lectures, but there is something that is missing, where I am not able to put all the pieces together. I'd like to think that I am smart enough to 'get' it; maybe it's just me.
    Working on: staying alive and staying employed
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    JoJoCal19JoJoCal19 Mod Posts: 2,835 Mod
    colemic wrote: »
    WGU tests on competency only in technical areas... For the MSML degree, I don't see how WGU's assessment process (papers and a proctored exam) differ any from a B&M school. They can call it whatever they want, they're both assessments that don't really analyze competency, just theory.

    Maybe the MSML degree is not one of WGU's best offerings. I've read reviews here and elsewhere on WGU's MBA (for the split second I was considering it in liu of going back to UF for my MBA) and people have said it had plenty of material they were able to take away and apply to the real world. I do think not every class in a particular degree lends itself to being super practical, and is more theory, but I don't think all of WGU's non-technical degrees would be theory only.
    Have: CISSP, CISM, CISA, CRISC, eJPT, GCIA, GSEC, CCSP, CCSK, AWS CSAA, AWS CCP, OCI Foundations Associate, ITIL-F, MS Cyber Security - USF, BSBA - UF, MSISA - WGU
    Currently Working On: Python, OSCP Prep
    Next Up:​ OSCP
    Studying:​ Code Academy (Python), Bash Scripting, Virtual Hacking Lab Coursework
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    IristheangelIristheangel Mod Posts: 4,133 Mod
    @Colemic - I've thought about the same Stanford certificate as well. I might do it for fun years down the road but right now I'm in Cisco-land studying for my CCNP/CCIE DC. Sorry that the MSML didn't work out for you. It happens. I have a good opinion of the school as well. I tried the community college route for years and it just didn't work for me. I almost gave up on my undergrad degree because I didn't like the online learning options I was finding or they were too expensive or I wasn't going to jump into a for-profit university. I found WGU thanks to these forums back in 2009 and took about 8 months to decide whether to apply or not. Glad I did. I learned an awesome amount, found what path I wanted to take in IT (networking) and the ROI has been amazing.

    I'm sure whichever path you choose, you'll find what's best for you. You definitely have my respect for bowing out of a degree if it's not giving you what you want or need.
    BS, MS, and CCIE #50931
    Blog: www.network-node.com
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    AverageJoeAverageJoe Member Posts: 316 ■■■■□□□□□□
    iBrokeIT wrote: »
    There is difference between well reasoned criticism (which Colemic offered) and attacks that aren't based fact or reality (like your previous post and abyssinic's post). If you are going to criticize WGU, alteast get your facts straight first - maybe that's what bothers the "zealots"?

    What on earth did I say that wasn't based on fact and reality?

    And I don't know why you're saying my previous post was an attack. I didn't mean to attack anyone and I don't see where I did, but if you felt attacked by my post I genuinely apologize.
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