Prior Learning Can Lead to College Credits
by Sandra Womack, Special to EdFlo
As an educational consultant for adult students, I often hear
this scenario: "I have worked for 10 years, taken corporate classes,
taught myself software skills, been a manager, etc. Surely this
should count for some college credits!" Well the answer is Yes...
and No. The experience itself (being a manager) does not equate
to college credits; however, the learning may become credits.
Here are several ways to gain "life/work experience" credits to
add to your college degree plan.
Testing Out of Classes
Probably the most popular way to gain college credits for learning is to prove you know the material by testing out of the class. College Level Examination Program (C.L.E.P.) from The College Board is a national testing organization that provides tests in many of the General Education areas (English composition, math, history, psychology, etc.), as well as tests in the business areas (accounting, marketing, management). CLEP tests are under $50 per test and most colleges, both state and private, will transfer in CLEP test results to a degree plan. To receive a CLEP testing packet, call (609) 771-7865.
Most colleges have their own in-house testing procedures, called challenge tests. Pick up a list of classes that could be challenged from the Testing Office of the college you attend, or plan to attend. If you decide to take the challenge test and pass it, you will save yourself having to sit in that class for the term. However, if you do not pass the challenge exam, the failing grade may show up on your transcript.
Mi litary, Corporate and Professional Credits
The American Council on Education (ACE) has reviewed curriculum of military, corporate courses, licenses and certificates and has made recommendations to grant college credits for these courses. These judgments are made by selected faculty of colleges who teach similar classes on the college level.
If you have been in the military, have taken classes and have a DD 214, submit it to the college and see if the college uses the ACE recommendations. Also, if you have taken corporate classes or have licenses or certificates, you should also submit these for review.
Portfolio of Life/Work Experience
Also known as Assessment of Learning, life experience credits can be earned through the "portfolio" process--writing and documenting that you possess the knowledge of a particular subject. Life experience credits are not "watered down" credits, nor are they easy to obtain. Most schools that accept these credits will require you take a class to learn how to "package" your experiences to make it equate to college units. You have to write about your experience, show documentation and demonstrate that you know the subject. Credits from the Portfolio process can be gained from both personal and professional skills.
Not all colleges offer the Assessment of Learning, but some schools make it a part of their degree completion program. The average units earned by an adult student is about 15-18.