I have made a mistake in my life, and I offer my story to you, that you may learn from my error. It all started, as many things do in this life, with me having trouble advancing in my career. I was in my mid 30s and thought about my high school friends who have respectable careers. No, I was not digging ditches or breaking rocks; but my avancement options were slim without a college degree. It seemed that I was training college graduates who would soon become my bosses. It led to much frustration, with me KNOWING that I had what it took to get a degree. I had after all graduated from college in Africa before coming to the States. I was contemplating this problem, when I had what seemed at the time to be a bright idea. “Hey! This is about my life and my future, right? So why don’t I just eliminate the degree barrier, and then my career will take off like a rocket!” I said to myself. It is a statement that will go down in history with a lot of other regretted statements. “How many Indians could there be?” said by General Custer. “Looks like a good day for a drive!” by JFK. “There! America On-Line now has complete Usenet access!” by some idiot system tech. Such was my decision of joining Western Governors University. I navigated WGU’s bureacracy and enrolled. Despite having a degree from Africa, only 15 CUs transferred. My enrollment counselor reassured me that it didn’t matter how many CUs I had transferred. “Since you know the material, you will quickly take assessments and move on,”she reassured me. I believed her, smiled, rejoiced, and thanked the creator of the universe who led me to WGU. Little did I know. Two weeks later, I received my financial aid package and noticed that I did not received pell grant despite the fact that I was an undergraduate student. WGU had decided that my degree from Africa was an equivalent of a Bachelors degree here. That disqualified me from pell grants. Again my mentor reassured me, reminding me that a little over $6,000 could get me my bachelors degree if I completed it in a year. “That would give you your US credentials to advance,”she said. It was only after I had spent my five terms there that I started to realize that my dream of getting a degree was leading me to the shadow of despair. The classes were getting harder to pass, and the study materials were just a bunch of one link after another. You might be better off going to a public library and read real books. It became frustrating to deal with their crazy rules about retaking assessments, and I decided that this was not worth getting a heart attack. As if that wasn’t enough, I am now enduring further torture. I accumulated over $18,000 non-recharge loans that will soon be charging me crazy interests. WGU doesn’t have scholarships to offer, and all the money that I owe was for their tuition. I now feel like like a gambler in Vegas who kept playing knowing he was losing. Their CUs are not transferrable to any schools, and I’m left to with transcripts that will only remind me of my foolishness. Their graduation rate (according to the US Department of Education) is 22% and that’s not a good number for a college with credentials that you can’t transfer to any other colleges. As anyone who has ever suffered this kind of loss knows, mourning will always be with you as you pay back those debts. Well, that is what I am dealing with now. It is a hellish torture, and there are many times when I just look out the window and contemplate why I shouldn’t just jump out and get it all over with in one fleshy splat, rather than endure this constant agony. .
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