Comment: Finding higher ed that works with what you know

WGU offered a path that used what I had already learned and allowed me to progress at my own pace.

By Cary Dubinsky / For The Herald

I was destined to work in tech.

But like so many working adults, the path I took to the job I wanted when I was young included many twists and turns. Fortunately, I found the resources to get me on track and land a great job in information technology, commonly abbreviated as IT. Even though I was older, and my previous college experience presented challenges, a nonprofit, online university helped me get the knowledge and skills I needed to succeed.

Let me briefly turn back the clock and share a series of experiences I know will resonate with many men and women who are midcareer.

As a teenager, I struggled academically and never saw myself going to a university. Instead, I chose a career in automotive repair. I worked in that field for a few years but, in time, realized I wanted more. I knew how much education determines career earnings and success, so I decided to give school another shot.

I enrolled in a traditional brick-and-mortar institution and began exploring my options. I started a bachelor’s degree program in computer science, switched to exercise science, then changed back to computer science.

Then I lost the financial support paying my tuition and learned I did not qualify for financial aid because of the number of credits I had already earned. I was forced to leave school because I could not afford to stay. Ultimately, I was left with some college training and no degree; and working odd jobs in IT. I had unintentionally contributed to a statistic that says roughly 6 out of 10 students don’t graduate within six years of enrolling.

Luckily, I soon discovered WGU Washington. At Western Governors University Washington I could apply the IT knowledge I already had and accelerate through my course work. Traditional classrooms had previously required that I learn at the pace of my peers and spend precious class time talking about material I already understood. But at WGU, my grade was not tied to a timeline and I was placed in the driver’s seat of my education. I was able to graduate quickly despite also working full time, saving me time and money. WGU offers degree programs in business, teaching, information technology and health and nursing.

And that brings us to today. I’ve now earned two degrees from WGU Washington, a bachelor’s and a master’s in IT. My education opened tremendous doors of opportunity for me professionally. I currently have a great job at Microsoft, where I work as an IT field manager. Had it not been for my degrees, the climb to where I am now would have been much more difficult.

To individuals who want more out their careers, I encourage you to consider the awesome power of higher education. And to working adults who want a high-quality, low-cost educational experience that fits their already-busy lives, check out WGU Washington. It changed the trajectory of my life, as well as the lives of 20,000 other graduates across Washington state; women and men making differences in the workplace and their communities.

Cary Dubinsky lives in Kenmore.

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