Prior Learning Assessment
For many adults, getting a "jump" on earning college credit is critical to pursuing and completing a degree. Many adults with years of work experience can earn academic credit for the knowledge gained from some of those experiences. Through a process called "prior learning assessment" you can pursue many opportunities outside the traditional classroom or the online classroom to earn college credit and to accelerate your time to degree completion!
Prior Learning Assessment is the process of earning credit for college level learning acquired through work, training, volunteering, or personal experiences. It offers students the opportunity to earn college credit for knowledge and skills attained through educational or life experiences.
To learn more about prior learning assessment options, click the links below to review some of the types offered at Louisiana colleges and universities:
The College Level Examination Program, or CLEP, is administered by the College Board and is the most widely accepted "credit by testing" program in the U.S. CLEP tests are administered in a testing center on the computer. Successful scores on a CLEP exam can be converted to credits in specific courses at many colleges and universities. The link above will take you to the CLEP site where you can review information about the tests and fees, register for an exam, and review credit policies relating to the program.
Some colleges and universities may allow you to "test out" or "challenge" a particular course based upon your prior academic or work experience. These course examinations vary greatly from college to college because each academic department decides which courses will have a challenge exam. The cost (fees for the test, generally less than the cost of the course, are charged for each examination) and the opportunity to take course "challenge" examinations may not be available at all institutions. While some departments may grant credit for passing an examination, many will simply "waive" a particular course requirement or allow you to begin study at a higher level. Ask your academic advisor about the availability of challenge examinations at the school of your choice.
Military servicemen and women may be able to obtain college credit from the performance and training in the military through DANTES (The Defense Activity for Nontraditional Educational Support). DANTES Subject Standardized Test (DSST) originally developed for the military, and now used by a variety of colleges and employers. Testing subject areas include Business, Physical Science, Humanities, Social Science, and Applied Technology. Follow the links above for more information about these programs.
How can I earn credit for life experience through portfolio?
Some 2-year and 4-year colleges in Louisiana have implemented a “portfolio assessment” process as a method of prior learning assessment which is conducted by a thorough review of previous experience that documents the "college-level learning" through a portfolio and then assessed for college credit.
College-level learning means that credits are not granted for life experience but rather for the knowledge and learning you have attained and can demonstrate for those life experiences. Portfolio Assessment requires you to document your knowledge and learning experiences through some "campus defined" portfolio process. Bossier Parish Community College and Northwestern State University are developing similar, yet distinct, college-specific processes. For more information about portfolio assessment, contact us.
What I need to know about Portfolio Credit?
You are cautioned that not all colleges and universities accept prior learning credits or may limit the number of credits that will be accepted. You should check with the colleges of your choice about their policies on the acceptance of such credits.
Is Portfolio for me?
Adults learn constantly with many returning adult students having developed some type of college level learning away from the traditional classroom, on the job, in relationships, through reading, travel, hobbies, and life events. Adults who want a college to grant them credit for courses for college level learning still have to find a way to document what they know in order to get the necessary college credit.
The American Council on Education's College Credit Recommendation Service (CREDIT) connects workplace learning with colleges and universities by helping adults gain access to academic credit for formal courses and examinations taken outside the traditional classroom. The link above will take you to the National Guide to College Credit for Workforce Training.