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Education

You May Already Have College Credit

There are lots of ways to earn college credit for the adult student. By the time you are a grown up, and this is sort of an arbitrary age since many of us know older people who would not qualify as grown up, you have had lots of experiences that could be translated to college credit.  Even certain licenses and professional certificates also earn college credit so it is important to keep track of those accomplishments.

“Gather all your licenses and certificates and make an appointment to talk to someone about going back to school. You may be closer to a college degree than you think!”

In some university programs you can earn credit through Prior Learning Assessment (PLA). The PLA process allows you to demonstrate that the learning outcomes from your own life experiences are comparable to learning outcomes of particular courses. By creating a Portfolio of essays, that means writing on a particular topic, which are assessed by faculty who are content experts, students can earn college credit. This is a rigorous process and approved by the Council for Adult Experiential Learning (CAEL). At many schools there is a course that helps you prepare for writing the essays. Faculty work with you on choosing topics as well as outlining and formatting the actual essays.

Another way of earning credit is through a testing process called College Level Examination Program (CLEP) or the DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSST). Most schools use the American Council on Education’s (ACE) recommended scores for these assessments. While you may know a lot about history or literature, or math, it is always a good idea to use the study guides and practices tests to assure that you do your best. You can find more information about these test and even test study guides at your local public library.
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It is possible to begin your college career, having never been to college, with some well-earned credit. And while it is important from the perspective of time and money, cost of tuition and time to graduation, it is also important that you are recognized as bringing something to the classroom. As adults, with rich and hectic lives, you have been learning many things that are important. These life experiences are an important part of the college experience.

So find a good college advisor, look for a school that has something for non-traditional or adult students and a center for prior learning assessment. Gather all your licenses and certificates and make an appointment to talk to someone about going back to school. You may be closer to a college degree than you think!

Resources:
Council on Adult Experiential Learning
Information on CLEP
Chicago Public Library