For those of you who don’t know, I attend Western Governors University, and I’m working on my BA in Special Education. The reason I picked WGU is because it’s competency based. I pay a flat rate tuition, and however many classes I finish in my term (which is 6 months) is up to me. You have to complete a minimum of 12 competency units (or CU’s) in a 6 month period to be considered in Good Academic Standing. In my first month at WGU, I successfully completed 30 CU’s in 30 days. I’ve had a ton of people ask me how I did it, and while I originally posted this in a Google Doc, I’ve decided to share it here on my blog.
Here’s how I’ve been accelerating, and some tips. Here’s the system I’ve used. Please note that from June 29-July 16th I was not working because I had surgery, so I had more time than normal. I also do not have kids, nor a husband so it’s just me, myself and I.
I transferred in 35 units due to getting an Associates degree in Elementary Education. I was pursuing a degree in Special Education for the record. I thoroughly went over my transfer evaluation and appealed quite a few things, although most were not accepted, sometimes they found things that would apply other places. For example, I took a very specific Biology class because at my community college the class just had to have a BIO prefix to count, although this didn’t count as my biology class, it did count as my lab.
I started my classes on the 15th, the moment I could after orientation. I decided to take one pre-assessment per day in my first few classes. I also bought a 2 inch 3 ring binder, and dividers that I could use pencil on and erase the titles so I could use them as my currently working on classes. I owned an Erin Condren Life Planner, and it’s been my best investment. I love planners and am a planner, so it’s proved very useful. I have the vertical, and divide my days into School, Work and Life. I took a page in the back of my planner to lay out all my classes and whether they were an OA or PA and if they had tasks. I color code my highlighting of each assignment and pretest and then highlight the entire class when it’s done. I went all the way up to PCE (for Education majors) and using the Pacing Guide I marked what I needed to have done by when. See picture below:
I also as part of my degree program at the community college had finished all my basic math and english classes, so I registered for my Basic Skills Tests. Math for Educators 3 didn’t transfer in, but after looking at the content, I knew we had just covered all of it last semester. I took the NES tests June 18, 2018 and got my Reading and Math results immediately. I got my writing scores about three weeks later. I also began working on my fingerprint clearance immediately. I was lucky enough to have an AZ Fingerprint Clearance card so I renewed that, and applied for the Utah packet which was free. I filled out what I felt comfortable with just so they’d be done.
One of my first classes was Psychology for Educators, and I knew it was supposed to be a doozy so I dove in right away. I listened to the podcasts and printed all the study guides and filled them out as completely as possible. I bought sheet protectors from Amazon and got to work. I alternated between that and World History. I’ve found that the most of the courses with Performance Assessments have guides to walk you through how to do everything and the key is to not overthink it. By the time my term started, I was ready to submit two tasks for World History, and take the OA’s for both MEE3 and US Constitution. Talk to your mentor about which classes you feel like you already have competency in, they’ll work with you and move around your degree plan.
Also, don’t feel scared to activate classes. I printed all the pacing guides for my classes, but rather than spending a week on each of those topics, I spent a day. I also took the Pre-Assessments for all my activated classes except Psychology for Educators because I’d heard it was something good to wait on.
I have ADHD, so alternating between classes helped, and made me feel more productive. I also got the program called iStudiez Pro on my new MacBook Air. You can set up classes, terms, and set due dates. It helped me to set up due dates for everything based off the Pacing Guides. I also found it more motivating rather than just write “Task 1” to write “Task 1: A”, “Task 1: A1” so I could check those off and feel like I did something. When I was enrolled, I emailed all my course instructors an introduction. Mine looks like this:
Hi CI NAME,
My name is Rachel Kulik and I wanted to introduce myself to you since it looks like you’ll be my course instructor for CLASS NAME. I’m 27 years old and I live in Phoenix, Arizona. My goal is to teach resource English at the High School level, I worked as a para-professional at this age and absolutely loved it. I’m a third generation educator, my grandma was a school librarian, my mom taught American History for almost 30 years, and my dad taught English before moving into becoming a Guidance Counselor. He now works for the district office trying to help other counselors help their students find the right colleges for them. I currently work as a server at a restaurant/bar and I absolutely love it. Although I know I won’t do it forever, it’s something I really enjoy, and my coworkers are like my family. I really love to read books, and although it’s fallen to the wayside, I do have a book blog because I typically read 100+ books a year. I also really enjoy cross stitch and language learning (I’m fluent in Spanish and Brasilian Portuguese as well as English).
I’m looking to accelerate this class and I’m currently working through DETAIL WHAT I’VE DONE IN THE CLASS SO FAR. I was wondering if you had any tips for me to be successful in this class while I work through. I look forward to working with you through the duration of my time in this class!
Every CI that I’ve sent this to has responded positively, and even if I was able to test out of their class shortly after, they have some good stuff. My World History CI had his own special notes he sent to his students that really helped me complete the tasks. Also, attend the webinars when possible and see if you like them and if they help, same goes for the cohorts. There’s LOTS of good stuff there, and I just tend to print everything.
I also have a folder on my computer titled “School” with subfolders for all my future classes. In hard form, I bought the biggest binder I could find at OfficeMax and as I turn classes blue, I move the information over there. My “Currently Working On” binder has the following:
- Degree plan with classes completed highlighted
- Pacing Guide
- Tabs for the 5 next classes in progress (even if I’m not working on all of them at the same time)
I always have the pacing guide in there, just to make sure, and I always print out my Pre Assessment results. I also created two classes in iStudiez Pro for Mentor Calls and for DT Preparation. For Teachers Education students these are REALLY important.
I really credit iStudiez Pro for keeping me on track, because even if things are “Overdue” I just work from there, and keep going. Although there aren’t “due dates” it helps me to be accountable. Don’t ever be afraid to reach out to a Course Instructor group if you have questions, they even let me schedule a call with them before my official start date! If you have to take biology, I highly recommend the Amoeba sisters on Youtube, and using their free handouts. They helped me pass, I seriously couldn’t have done it without them. If you have to take World History I highly recommend the webinars with Sharla. She seriously is AMAZING and so kind and wonderful.
Because I have ADHD, I did request accommodations through the Disability Resource Center of being able to read questions out loud. It’s helped me a lot, and if that’s something you need due to disability I highly encourage you to reach out. I also use an app called Focus. It can block websites and even apps from opening while you need to be focusing. It’s really helped me when I’ve had papers to write that I really didn’t want to! You can even set it so that while you’re supposed to be focusing you can’t turn it off. There’s one I use on my iPhone called Forest, so I don’t just decide to hop on Facebook there instead.
I email my mentor all the time, and I also highly recommend completing orientation as soon as you can, because you’ll get your student success kit that much faster. If you need to contact me, feel free to hit up the contact form or reach out on Instagram or Facebook. I reply really quickly there.
So that’s it! That’s how I completed 30 credits in 30 days. My goal is to graduate in December 2019.