How to Apply Prior Learning to Your Studies
By Tedi Thompson-Magrini
Associate VP/Prior Learning Assessment at American Public University System
Have you ever sat in a class and thought, “Geez, I learned this stuff on the job ten years ago” or “Wow, I know this from my volunteer work with the town council; I wish I could just skip this class and learn something new.”?
Wouldn’t it be nice to earn college credit for what you have learned through life experience?
You may be able to!
Prior Learning Assessment programs allow students to demonstrate mastery of college level learning for credit toward your degree. There are several methods by which students can demonstrate their learning. The two most popular methods are national testing programs, such as CLEP and DANTES exams, and by portfolio. There are pros and cons to each method depending on the nature of the learning and the individual student. Either method helps students save time and money!
Testing programs allow students to demonstrate knowledge in a variety of areas, including general education subjects that are required in most degree programs. Naturally, the subjects are limited and usually cover learning that would take place at the freshman or sophomore level. Students who possess good test taking skills can be very successful.
More on the Portfolio Method
The portfolio allows students to demonstrate higher level learning or learning in subjects that are not available for testing. The portfolio method is also a good alternative for students who are “test-phobic”. Many institutions offer courses or workshops to help students learn to develop a portfolio. Most portfolios include an autobiography and/or a resume, a narrative section in which the student writes about what he/she has learned, how the learning took place, how it has been applied, and documentation to support the narrative. Documentation might include letters from employers, training certificates, or even work products. The process can be writing intensive, but most students find it enjoyable and discover that they know even more than they had previously thought.
If you have life experience which has led to college level learning, it may be time to look into Prior Learning Assessment.
Learn From The Leader
American Military University (AMU) is proud to be the #1 provider of higher education to the U.S. military, based on FY 2018 DoD tuition assistance data, as reported by Military Times, 2019. At AMU, you’ll find instructors who are former leaders in the military, national security, and the public sector who bring their field-tested skills and strategies into the online classroom. And we work to keep our curriculum and content relevant to help you stay ahead of industry trends. Join the 64,000 U.S. military men and women earning degrees at American Military University.