Capella Stories: Debra Wiley

Despite a promising early career as an independent insurance agent, Debra Wiley faced a dilemma. While her two-year degree would not hold her back from success in that field, she wanted to broaden her options by completing a bachelor's degree.

But in rural northern Michigan—where the nearest four-year university was 90 miles away—Wiley knew it would be impossible to sustain a traditional degree program. After researching a host of online learning programs, she chose Capella University for its varied course options, scholarship assistance, and alignment with the American Institute for CPCU, a noted insurance industry professional training program. By enrolling at Capella, Wiley was able to transfer credits earned in her CPCU program for academic credit.

"That factor had a huge impact on my decision to choose Capella," said Wiley "The CPCU designation is the most prestigious recognition in the insurance industry, so I knew Capella must hold a high position in the education industry."

Once she began her Capella program, Wiley found she needed to become much more efficient in balancing family, job, and studies. Along the way, she began to appreciate the academic rigor and lively online discussions, which she believed were far more relevant than previous classroom experiences.

"What I really liked was that the online discussions were based on real experiences," Wiley said. "I think that really helps people connect the dots and see how a topic fits together."

The relevance of Wiley's degree program extended well beyond online courserooms. In recent years, Wiley had been in touch with several prospective employers, all of whom said they would not consider her for corporate positions without a bachelor's degree. When she recently came back to say that she was completing her four-year education with Capella, they started to take a second look. One, in fact, has opened discussions on how to bring Wiley into their organization.

That feedback—along with the self-confidence built from completing the undergraduate degree—has sold Wiley on the value of her Capella experience.

"This program has been absolutely fantastic," she said. "I learned so much in every class, largely because of how the discussions, readings, and papers all fit together. Until you're done, you honestly don't realize just how much you've learned."

Capella Story Quote

Photo of Debra Wiley, BS Debra Wiley, BS

"I learned so much in every class, largely because of how the discussions, readings, and papers all fit together"

2009 Graduate