The Academy at WGU Mission Statement

Believing in the worth and potential of every person, WGU Academy is committed to enabling academic and career opportunities for millions of students regardless of their prior academic experience. We do this through low-risk preparatory programs that combine rigorous curriculum and personalized noncognitive support to prepare each person for long-term success.

What is The Academy at WGU?

As part of Western Governors University’s mission to expand access to higher education, WGU created WGU Academy, operating as The Academy at WGU, to address the college readiness gaps that hold back millions of individuals who seek a brighter future through education. Its core objective is to develop resilient learners, with a special emphasis on helping those currently being left behind because of their education and social backgrounds. Operating independently of WGU’s main academic programs, the Academy is designed to serve hundreds of thousands of individuals regardless of which institutions they attend.

The History of The Academy at WGU

The Academy began enrolling students in May of 2019. Its first “partner” was WGU itself. The Academy helps prepare students who otherwise are not ready for admission into WGU, and provides a low-cost, low-risk pathway for them to return to WGU with guaranteed admission. From its inception, however, the Academy was designed to partner with other higher education institutions, states, foundations, and employers to improve college readiness on a large scale. The Academy began pilot programs with other entities in the summer of 2019 with Tennessee Achieves in support of the TN Promise Scholarship program. We are actively seeking pilot partners who share the same commitment to expanding access to postsecondary credentials.

How does The Academy at WGU work?

The Academy is built on the premise that effective college readiness must strengthen the core learning competencies of the whole person rather than simply getting students through entry-level math and English courses (although these are important). Academy’s objective is to cultivate “remarkably resilient learners” who can tackle any courses they are likely to face in college. Academy’s two-pronged approach to preparing students—focused on academic preparedness and noncognitive social and emotional skills—is a new paradigm for college success, going beyond normal remediation approaches and advising.

Through our course, the Program for Academic and Career Advancement (PACA), students gain confidence and tenacity, increased emotional intelligence, and interpersonal and communication skills that position them for long-term academic and career success. PACA helps develop self-reflective awareness (an important prerequisite to success), a growth mindset, self-directed planning and learning skills, grit, and persistence. PACA uses self-serve mobile-friendly modules, coach-led small group sessions that create a safe, hyper-bonded sense of community, and 1-to-1 personalized coaching sessions.

PACA is based on two decades of research, independent evaluation, and continuous improvement that have been shown to help students increase resilience and persist in their education at higher rates, demonstrate personal discipline and complete courses--even difficult courses--faster, and improve academic progression. It helps students embrace challenge and failure as part of learning, and allows them to develop more advanced interpersonal communications skills and noncognitive strengths.

Why The Academy at WGU?

The Academy is designed to provide a low-risk, low-cost option for students that leads to better success. Our approach is flexible and can integrate into the programs and schedules of other schools, employers, and community groups, even high schools. We offer a “plug-in” solution to solve some of the weaknesses in traditional approaches to college preparedness that have been producing poor results for decades. (For instance, historically up to two-thirds of community college students begin in remedial courses; three years later, only 10% of them have completed a credential.)

The Academy at WGU Leadership

Patrick Partridge is President of WGU Academy, where he’s responsible for the organization’s program offering, operations, and external relations. Partridge received both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Virginia, obtaining his MBA from the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration in 1982. Prior to leading WGU Academy, Partridge served as Chief Marketing Officer at Western Governors University beginning in 2002, overseeing the university’s marketing, public relations, enrollment, scholarships, alumni, and admissions departments.