Andrew Hybert graduated from the UW Flexible Option in just six months, three months ahead of his goal. Why the rush? Andrew worked in the IT field and his employer would soon be acquired by a larger company. He knew a planned reduction in the IT workforce was coming soon as a result. A bachelor’s degree could mean the difference between job loss and job security.
Andrew had already been passed up for a promotion once before due to his lack of degree. This latest news was the push Andrew needed to finish his education. He set a goal for himself and explored many online degree options but found that many universities didn’t have a completely online IT program.
“I was Googling ‘UW online degrees’ and came across UW Flexible Option. I looked at it and fell in love.”
Andrew had spent four years in the IT field already. He recognized that his IT experience could help him progress very quickly through the competency-based education program. Designed for working adults with some college credit or on-the-job experience, the UW Flexible Option lets students leverage their knowledge and experience to more quickly advance toward a degree.
A Degree in Six Months
Knowing that his job was on the line, Andrew began the UW Flexible Option Information Science and Technology degree program through the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in July 2016, with the goal of graduating nine months later, the same time as his employer’s planned downsizing. Instead, he graduated three months ahead of schedule. So how did he do it?
The majority of Andrew’s prior college credits transferred in. Previously, Andrew attended the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. While attending UW-Green Bay, he landed a programmer internship at a local company. Andrew interned while continuing to pursue his bachelor’s degree in IT.
“Then, my life took a twist after a couple years of college. I focused on work, and once I was promoted to programmer analyst, I decided to graduate with an associate degree instead.”
Since he already had an associate degree, he needed only 44 additional credit hours, or about 14 competency sets–groups of skills and abilities needed–in the IST program to complete his bachelor’s degree. Students are advised to begin with two to three competency sets in the All You Can Learn subscription period; students may add more once they complete these. Andrew enrolled in three competency sets in his first subscription period and added more. And more. By the end of this three-month period, he had completed 13 competency sets!
Andrew was also able to draw from life experiences, like his joy of coding, to quickly master the programming competency sets. While in high school, his parents bought him a book on HTML and a domain name, and by the time he was 16 years old, he’d built his first site. The coding he did in his free time led to opportunities at work and ultimately meant he completed his IST competency sets at a rapid pace.
“The majority of the IST programming competencies involved HTML and PHP, both programming languages. In my professional career, I don’t use web-based languages; I use Windows-based applications and languages. But a lot of the fundamental concepts of programming are the same from language to language, so my work experience was still very valuable to my progress toward the degree.”
For the database competency sets, Andrew was able to leverage his work experience to advance more quickly through the material.
“The biggest part of my current role is understanding a business need and translating it into code, then I outsource our programming. I peer review it and make revisions as needed. Because I understand the business requirements and the data as well as database design as part of my job, I was able to apply this set of skills to show mastery in my IST program.”
During his second and final subscription period, Andrew took only one competency set: the Capstone.
“I was advised that the Capstone should come last, that there were a lot of prerequisites and it would be time-consuming. This turned out to be very true. It took me just as long to finish the Capstone as it did for me to complete the other 13 competencies combined, but it was completely worthwhile!”
Get a UW Flexible Option Degree Guide
Download an introductory guide (PDF) to the self-paced, competency-based UW Flexible Option programs, including details about costs, admission requirements, and more.
The Reward: A Fulfilling Career
In six months, Andrew earned his Bachelor of Science in Information Science and Technology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Not only did he avoid being let go by his employer during the downsizing, but he earned a promotion shortly after graduation.
“The UW Flexible Option was the only IT degree program that offered the flexibility that I needed to finish my degree online and on time. And I’m pleased to say that in the months following my graduation, I was offered a promotion to a senior position. I couldn’t have done it without the UW Flexible Option!”
His advice for anyone who is considering his lightning-fast pace?
“I was homeschooled as a kid, and I attended an online high school. So, just like with the UW Flexible Option, I had to be self-motivated and self-driven. Another essential ingredient to my success in the program was the relationship I had with my Academic Success Coach. A special shoutout to my coach Danielle, who guided me throughout my UW Flexible Option experience and always left me with a smile on my face!”
Curious how long it will take you to finish your Information Science and Technology bachelor’s degree? Please contact an enrollment adviser today at 1-877-895-3276 or firstname.lastname@example.org and discover the pace that’s right for you.