Can I Get College Credits from Prior Learning Assessment?

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Can I get credits for previous learning assessments, life and work experiences, and/or job training?

Many non-traditional students enter online programs in a field they already have a good deal of knowledge and familiarity with due to life experience, professional experience, volunteer experience, or military experience,. In some cases, universities recognize this knowledge and award Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) credits. While students must pay to have these credits recognized (at a reduced rate from the cost of coursework), they receive benefits from earning PLA credits such as a reduction in the overall money and time spent earning a degree. PLA credits allow students to bypass redundant coursework and focus on learning new information.

Universities typically limit the number of PLA credits a student can earn. Moreover, PLA credits may not transfer from one institution to another, so if a student begins a program at one college with PLA credits and decides to transfer across the country to another university halfway through, the new college may not recognize those credits and thus the student may need to take the courses in question.

Types of Prior Learning Experience to Get Credits

College and universities recognize and award credit for prior learning experience through a variety of avenues. Some of the most common include:

Credit for Prior Learning Experience: What to Avoid

Unfortunately, some schools take a student's money without offering much in return in the way of an education. Some less-than-reputable schools might promise students they can earn huge amounts of college credit for life experience, making for a very quick degree program. Unfortunately, these colleges have little concern about whether or not the student actually possesses sufficient knowledge of a subject, resulting in a low-quality program and degree.

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