Prior Learning Can Lead to College Credits

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  1. Learn how Assessment of Prior Learning can help you achieve college credits towards a degree

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. 

Military, 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.