Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Independent learning timely

It’s a hot topic: how to help UW-Madison students graduate in four years. How long it takes to get a degree can have a major financial impact on students and their families.

Undergraduates are eager to get started on their careers or to begin graduate or professional programs, and families are ready to end the check-writing. The longer a student takes to graduate – even an extra semester or two beyond four years – the more costs they incur. Delaying the start of a career can also mean lower cumulative lifetime earnings. 

But is graduating “on time” even a realistic goal? These days, required undergraduate courses can fill up quickly, and classes can’t always be offered when students need them. There are options. For the past 120 years, UW Independent Learning has been one of them. Students throughout the UW System can use Independent Learning courses to fulfill degree requirements.

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Independent Learning is especially helpful in enabling students to fulfill general education requirements. The program offers more than 100 courses in anthropology, classics, English, French, geography, history, math, music, psychology, sociology and Spanish. Students can use the Transfer Information System to see how these courses apply to their degree programs. Flexibility can make a huge difference in students’ lives. Not only can they enroll in a course whenever the need arises, during semesters, between semesters or over the summer, but with the flexibility of online education, they can study when and where they wish. 

Some course requirements are especially daunting. Independent Learning can take the pressure off a stressful course by letting them work at their own pace. It also allows students up to a year to complete a course. Having more time to complete a challenging course can be the difference between an enjoyable learning experience and nail-biting, anxious semester. 

 We’ve all heard stories of students who discovered – sometimes well into their senior year – that they were missing key courses or were short a credit or two. With UW Independent Learning, students can enroll and begin a course anytime-without waiting for the start of a semester. Independent Learning can often fill the gaps and help students graduate as planned. I first became acquainted with Independent Learning when I decided to pursue graduate work in philosophy. I needed to fulfill a prerequisite in logic, and Independent Learning allowed me to do so – while I was working more than full-time and paying off school debts.

That Independent Learning course was my first introduction to the UW-System, and it was a good one. I was able to pursue graduate studies in philosophy, eventually earning a Ph.D. at UW-Madison. 

Making a four-year undergraduate degree attainable benefits students, their families and our state. Today’s students have to make tough choices about their education, and how to get what they want and need in a degree. UW Independent Learning is there to get students to graduation and beyond. 

David Werther ([email protected]) is the director of UW-Independent Learning.

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