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Nov 30, 2016 10:49 AM EST

How A 'Customer-Centered' Approach To Students Means Better Education

Students graduate with the skills and competencies they need for a great career
West Governors University president Scott Pulsipher believes that a "customer-centered" approach to education prepares students for the demands of the workforce.
(Photo : Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Pursuing a higher education is quite difficult for some adults, especially those who are busy with their families, jobs, and personal pursuits. Thankfully, competency-based online school Western Governors University offers college degrees in months, making it easier for young adults to earn the necessary skills and credentials they need for a better career in teaching, health care, IT, and business.

WGU, a not-for-profit, online-based school was founded by 19 governors with the intention of providing master's and bachelor's degrees at low costs. It was hailed by Fast Company as one of the most innovative companies in 2013 alongside great business companies such as Nike, Amazon, and Ford.

WGU continually innovates to provide a better outcome for students, WGU's new president Scott Pulsipher told the Chronicle of Higher Education. This investment in an innovation led culture and mindset, he says, finds ways to make higher education better, more accessible and more affordable for students.

Pulsipher, who has decades of experience in customer-centered businesses in Silicon Valley, having served as President of Needle and General Manager for Amazon Webstore, says his customer-centric background helps him focus on meeting the needs of the students, and preparing them to be able to meet the needs of the workforce.

"Everything we do (in WGU) is to better serve our students," he says.

Pulsipher goes on to explain that when WGU improves the quality of education that students receive, they improve the learning and the competency of these students. And when the students' competencies meet the demands of the workforce, ultimately the workforce benefits from it. And so, WGU focuses on the learning and the competencies of its students.

"We know that when we better serve our students, we also better serve the employers and the workforce and the needs that they are intending to go meet," Pulsipher says.

WGU students learn at their own pace while following material designed from corporate members. Bob Mendenhall, its founding president, said WGU measures students' learning, and not the time they spent studying. The result of this focus on student learning is evident: nearly 100% of employers say WGU graduates are at par with or better than graduates from other schools.

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