If you have begun a career, you most likely have gained a number of professional and personal experiences. To determine if these translate to college learning, consider a Prior Learning Assessment (PLAs). Your skills and experiences can be assessed in three different ways: by passing an exam, by providing information about your experience to a confirming third-party education organization, or proving your knowledge directly to an individual professor.
PASS IT: There are a wide variety of nationally recognized standardized tests which allow you to “test out” of a course. Campuses or advisors can direct you to testing centers. Some of the most commonly used options include:
- College Level Examination Program (CLEP) – Allows students to earn up to 12 credit hours by passing examinations for a particular course if approved by their institution.
- Dantes Subject Standardized Tests (DSST) – Allows military personnel who are beginning or returning to school to earn credit hours by passing examinations for a particular course if approved by their institution
- Manufacturing Skills Standard Council (MSSC) – Leading organization for industrial and production certificate programs that may be used to prove your skill set for a particular program
- National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) – Certifies workplace credentials by completing three WorkKey assessments. These certificates measure an individual’s success at the workplace and possible skill sets that employers are looking for
PROVIDE IT: There are a number of highly regarded professional organizations like the American Council on Education that can confirm that your learning is college-level. These organizations evaluate the training and learning provided through military service, corporate training, and certifications and help colleges match this learning to learning acquired through college courses.
PROVE IT: Many colleges also offer individualized assessments – an opportunity to pass a departmental exam or to demonstrate your knowledge directly to a professor, who may offer you the chance to take the final examination in a course. You may also choose a portfolio option where you provide evidence that you know the learning outcomes for a particular course.