Prior Learning Assessment

Discover Your Strategies > The Tools for Earning Credit Independently

Most colleges give students the opportunity to earn college credit for knowledge gained through life experience. They understand that learning can be acquired outside of the classroom prior to entering or returning to college. This knowledge could be attained in a number of ways such as self-initiated reading and studying, work experience, involvement in professional organizations, or service training.

In order to earn credit through Prior Learning Assessment, colleges often request students make a life experience portfolio explaining the knowledge they have acquired. Some colleges will even offer a course for credit on how to develop the portfolio. Students are not granted credit simply for having had particular life experiences. Rather, they must prove that their knowledge is equivalent to knowledge acquired in a particular course. Schools generally want students to describe their knowledge, how it was acquired, and how their knowledge satisfies particular course requirements.

Not all colleges will grant credit through Prior Learning Assessment, and those who do will normally limit the number, but this credit accumulating method can provide a wonderful opportunity, especially for the adult learner, to earn a block of college credit very quickly, flexibly and inexpensively. The Thomas Edison State College website provides at least one school’s procedures, as an example, for earning this type of credit.




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