One Greencastle student has found a way to go further faster.
As a registered nurse working two jobs and a married mother of four, Michelle Modlin already had plenty on her plate before deciding to go back to college. In today's job climate, though, she felt she had no choice.
"I'm a registered nurse with an associate degree, but BS (Bachelor of Science) is becoming the new standard. I knew that had to be done and I wanted to get it done in a quick amount of time, as cost effectively as possible," Modlin said.
Her research led her down a number of different avenues, included to WGU Indiana, which was founded in 2010 as an affiliate of Western Governors University, an online, accelerated, non-profit university.
"When I explored all the different options that I had, WGU Indiana just kind of fit better than anything, as far as time and cost," Modlin said. "I am very, very busy, but they just said, 'This is what you need to do to get the BSN.' It's just streamlined."
One of the biggest advantages WGU Indiana offers to working people like Modlin is its flexibility. As an online university, there are no commutes to classes or exams. Everything is done from the comfort of home or wherever the student would like.
As someone who commutes to both Hendricks Regional Health and St. Vincent Hospital, this appealed to Modlin.
"I didn't have a lot of time to drive to be in class, which is common for lots of nurses. You're on your feet a lot. You're gone a lot. You have a family. You don't have time to be gone for that classroom, so it just worked really well," Modlin said.
"You can do it in the middle of the night. You can do it in your pajamas. It doesn't matter," she added.
Barber said Modlin's story is representative of those of her fellow WGU Indiana students.
"Michelle is why we started this university. She represents our students," Barber said. "Seventy percent work full time, 80 percent transfer in credits.
"We fit into your life, we don't make you fit into our life."
While the university's goal is to graduate most students in 2 to 2.5 years, Modlin plans to complete her degree much more quickly. She started her class work in July and plans to graduate March 15.
The ability of students to work at their own pace is another draw of the university. While they may take as few or as many classes as they want, students who accelerate their studies as much as Modlin are rewarded. Tuition is $6,000 per year, regardless of the number of classes taken.
"It means you can go to college as a working adult and still afford your children's college. That's the idea," Barber said. "We know that the jobs in Indiana are changing. The degree requirements are getting more difficult. So how do we come along side as a university and really make it attainable for adults? That's our goal."
Barber visited Greencastle recently as a part of the university's goal to maximize its effectiveness across the state. Barber and Modlin visited with Mayor Sue Murray to discuss WGU and what it can do for the citizens of Greencastle and Putnam County.
"We have students or graduates in all 92 counties of the state of Indiana. With online, our goal was to really blanket the state and make sure people really knew about our four colleges," Barber said.
Statewide, 2,100 students are already taking advantage of the opportunity, with 145 having already graduated. Putnam County is one place the chancellor knows more people could take advantage of WGU Indiana's opportunities.
"In Putnam County we have 11 students and we know there are a lot more people we can help here because 20 percent of the residents in Putnam County have some college but have not had a chance to finish their bachelor's degree," Barber said.
WGU Indiana offers bachelor's and master's programs in four different schools -- information technology, business, health professions and education.
"WGU Indiana was created because it really reaches the working adult population who needs the flexibility of an online university, needs the affordability of a non-profit university and needs the quality and the ability to accelerate, which is our competency-based model," Barber said. "It just adds to the family of options for higher ed, but it's really the one that's focused on the working adult.
"We're excited about Michelle's story. It is representative of all our students, who are thrilled we've made a new path."
To learn more about WGU Indiana, visit Indiana.wgu.edu.