Get Your Degree Faster with Prior Learning Assessments

Getting your degree faster is made possible with Prior Learning Assessments. This previous experience might be translated to college from things like working a job, owning a business or from your own independent studies.

Getting Your Degree Faster

Spending multiple years in college to earn a degree can be more of a time commitment than some older students are willing to make. But for these individuals, it could take less time if they take advantage of the knowledge they already have.

Prior Learning Assessments

There are many higher education institutions that will award credit to potential students for knowledge they have gained through prior experiences. Colleges might look at your professional portfolio, skills you developed through work or even knowledge related to your military service. According to the March 2010 report released by The Council For Adult and Experiential Learning, there are a few ways that schools might determine if you're eligible for these credits. Forms of Prior Learning Assessments (PLA) include standardized exams or specific college tests that will evaluate your knowledge and training.

How You Might Be Able to Use These Credits

Schools handle prior learning credits differently. Some will let you apply them to prerequisites, general education requirements or even major requirements. This can give you a significant head start when it comes time to earn your degree. Depending on how many general education requirements your degree program has, you could be able to cut down your college time by a semester or two.

According to the CAEL report, 56% of students granted prior learning credits earned their degree during a 7-year period, compared to only 21% of those who didn't receive the credits. For individuals with prior learning credits, 43% earned their bachelor's degree and 13% earned their associate's degree. However, without these credits, only 15% earned a bachelor's degree and six percent earned an associate's degree.

What to Do if You Want PLA Credits

If you want to get ahead on your degree program through prior learning credits, there are some steps you should be sure to take. First, reach out to potential schools and see if they offer PLA and, if so, what kind of knowledge they'll accept. This could help you make your school decision if you're torn between two schools and one will give you credit for your work experience and the other one won't.

Next, you should get any information together that your school might consider, such as a portfolio or certificates of accomplishment. If you're going to take an exam, get details about what will be on it and study for it if need be.

Finally, if you're not sure if something will count, ask. It's always better to double check if your experience will be accepted than to just assume it won't be.

Are you worried about managing time while you go to school? Check out these time management secrets of straight-A students.

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