For many people, a quality college education can feel impossible to achieve. Western Governors University was created in 1997 as a nonprofit online university designed to ensure that everyone, no matter their situation, has access to a college degree.
Dr. K.L. Allen, Chancellor of Western Governors University Ohio, says, “Education should not be a cookie-cutter approach. We create an avenue where students can obtain a degree at their pace.”
At WGU, the focus is on helping students remove the barriers that might be in their way. Those barriers can include cost, distance, or life situations that have made higher education simply out of reach. WGU exists to help those individuals find success.
As a 100% online university, it is an ideal solution for those who want to continue their education at any stage of life. Students can continue to go to work and take care of their families, all while getting a fully accredited degree. WGU offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business, health and nursing, teaching, and information technology.
Allen notes that there was a time years ago when pay phones sat on every street corner. Now cellphones dominate. “That’s the way I look at education,” Allen says. “We had to bring something different into the fold.”
Allen knows barriers better than most. He is originally from Princeville, North Carolina, the oldest town incorporated by freed slaves in America. He grew up on a dirt road with a father who worked in law enforcement and a mother who worked in education. Both parents encouraged their son to work hard to make the world better for the next generation.
“Everyone sees life through a different lens, which creates a
different perspective,” Allen says. “My dad always told me, ‘Son, there are multiple ways to get to the same destination.’ I suggest we focus on how we can make one another better. How do we unify on the common fabric that makes us who we are?”
As an undergraduate, Allen studied criminal justice with plans to follow in his father’s footsteps. But when he worked in a university’s enrollment department, he met a student who changed the trajectory of his life. The student was a survivor of domestic violence, and she decided to go to college to better her situation. Her son, who had been incarcerated, eventually returned to school after his sentence. The woman’s mother matriculated in her golden years.
“That situation made me see that when it comes to education, the next generation is no longer about if but when,” Allen says. “That’s how education changes generations based on opportunity.”
The stories of how students get to WGU are as varied as the students themselves. When Allen asks their over 7,000 alumi why they chose to return to school, many say it was to improve their career or show their kids that they can do it.
“Education has no age boundaries,” says Allen, noting that the average age of a WGU Ohio student is 37. “We are always learning, whether informally or formally. That’s how we evolve.”
For more information about Western Governors University Ohio, visit ohio.wgu.edu.