Missouri State University

Dennis Wiggins

  • Workforce Development-Business Services, Missouri Career Center
  • Springfield, Missouri
  • BGS, general studies, 2015

40 years later, he found a path to graduation

He needed a bachelor's degree in order to land a new job. He found the Bachelor of General Studies program. 

Dennis Wiggins at office table

Dennis Wiggins was among the thousands.

As an undergraduate student in the 1970s, Wiggins attended then-Southwest Missouri State University. He never finished his degree despite completing more than 100 credit hours.

In the past 10 years, around 5,000 students holding 90 or more credit hours have left Missouri State University without getting a degree.

Wiggins said he succeeded in the workforce, sans degree, through experience and grit. The strategy took him far, but greater career potential still lay ahead.

With his wife’s encouragement, Wiggins underwent a transcript analysis to consider his options. 

‘It was meant to be’

“It was (about) proving it to me and proving it to some other people that, ‘Hey, it can still be done.’”

Through the transcript analysis and academic advising, Wiggins learned about a new program designed for people like him.

“Nathan Hoff at the registrar’s office was extremely helpful,” Wiggins said. “He told me about the (Bachelor of General Studies) program and got me in contact with a BGS advisor at the Academic Advisement Center and we got the ball rolling.”

Current or former students with at least 75 college credit hours across two or more departments can pursue the BGS degree.

Wiggins possessed 126 credit hours. He declared three different majors as an undergraduate student in the 1970s.

“To have done all that and not get across the finish line? Heck yeah, I was thinking about it,” he said. “I thought (getting a college degree) would be kind of neat someday.”

The transcript analysis indicated Wiggins could receive a BGS degree if he passed one more class.

If that wasn’t enough motivation, Wiggins had his eyes on a new, full-time job at the Missouri Career Center. But, the position required a bachelor’s degree.

Wiggins became a contractual employee in the short term. Both sides agreed he’d become full-time if he completed his degree within one year.

“Things just lined up. It was meant to be,” he said. “I had to do it.”

Then and now: student life

Dennis Wiggins in office chair

Wiggins’ lone class was an upper-level political science course. Naturally, the former political science major felt confident.

Wiggins attended the class during his work lunch hour, took notes and engaged in discussions. He had regular meetings with his associate professor, Dr. Kevin Pybas.

“Dr. Pybas was just so supportive and encouraging,” Wiggins said. “I tried to meet with him regularly throughout the duration of the class to just try to track how I was doing.”

Wiggins discussed his unique experiences as a non-traditional student.

  • “Man, the first quiz we had in that class… I did not do well. I knew all the information, but I like locked up and forgot had to take a (quiz) again. It was a learning process there.”
  • “You had quizzes, three tests and you had to write a paper. (Writing a paper) was a new experience in itself because the last time I had to write a paper, I did it on a typewriter.”
  • “Going to Meyer Library and seeing all the information that’s available to you now in the library, it was pretty amazing.”

Wiggins passed the class and accepted a BGS degree during the fall 2015 graduation ceremony.

He’s now in a different group of thousands: those who have a degree from MSU. 

Interested in the BGS program?

Call the Academic Advising Center at 417-836-5258, or email BGS@missouristate.edu to set up an appointment.