Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Masters Progress

As I (may have) stated, I finished my BSIT at WGU last year.  The program was really awesome - at WGU you are able to "accelerate" - this basically means you don't have to sit through an entire semester and wait to take a final exam.  At WGU your entire course of study is available - you have the syllabus and read at your own pace.  You can take the assessments as soon as you feel you're able.  If you've developed the competence required by the course, you pass the assessments and once complete, the course is done.  If that takes you 6 months, fine.  If it takes you 6 days that's also fine.  With this program I was able to complete 83 credit units in 3 6-month terms.  I was also selected to speak at the commencement ceremony.
Yeah that's me...

Don't get me wrong - the courses were tough.  I was just very motivated and pushed most things aside to dedicate at least 25 hours a week to school work.  

So either I'm a glutton for punishment or just an overachiever - I recently enrolled in the WGU Masters of Science in Information Security and Assurance (MSISA).  This is a 2-year program with the option to "accelerate" if you're able.  Since I had flew through the BSIT program, I figured this would be a cake-walk - it's in my area of expertise and I'm highly motivated.

Unfortunately I have come to the realization that the Masters program is MUCH more difficult than the BSIT.  There are 11 courses to complete - each class has at least 3 papers to write.  I'm presently enrolled in 3 courses - Emerging Technology, Cyberlaw and Hacking-something-or-other.  The first course on Emerging Technology required me to write an RFP to a company to develop an information sharing portal across regional offices, do an evaluation of rural Internet connectivity methods, and writing up a proposal on virtualizing a small city's IT infrastructure.  Each paper has been 10-15 pages and each submitted paper has been returned for re-writing due to something missing or not fully covering the topic.  

"UMM is not an answer!"
My second course is on Cyberlaw - I just finished two papers - one was on developing policy statements for a healthcare organization - one on new users and one on passwords.  The other paper was an analysis of a healthcare breach - determining what policy statements could have prevented the breach.  The final two papers are rewriting an SLA to protect the organization and doing an analysis of fraud at a fake bank.   Writing the papers is not too bad - reading all the legal stuff - court opinions - case studies - this is really dry stuff!  Glad I'm not studying to be a lawyer (I love you Judge Judy!)

I will attempt to write more as I progress through the program, for those who just don't have anything better to do, or for those who are considering attending WGU.  I think WGU is revolutionary in higher education - they offer a challenging program - they are an accredited school - all online - with the ability to accelerate through the program, which saves the student time and tuition costs.  I am so thankful for WGU - if you're as old as I am, you may have dreamed of such a school at some point.  Well I can tell you from experience that WGU is that school.  The student and course mentors are all great - the admissions process is not too bad.  They will turn you away if you don't match the criteria for the program.  If you want more information don't hesitate to reach out to me via the blog or LinkedIN.

As I said in my commencement speech, at WGU not only are you learning the subject matter, you are demonstrating and developing your skills in setting goals, getting things done,  multitasking, critical thinking, and self-motivation..  these are all crucial to success at WGU but even more so in the business world.  Any employer wants someone who can demonstrate that, without guidance, you can pick up a large task, organize it and work through to completion.  These are the characteristics of the leaders and executive managers, the positions we are all shooting for as we pursue a Master's Degree.  Of course having a Master's level foundation in all the subjects is also very helpful.

Along the way, I may try to relate my studies to some real world topics, just for entertainment or educational purposes.  It is a good way to take a break from all the reading and writing - or I could just play Angry Birds....