Life Experience Credits Could Help You Finish School Faster

Adults who are considering going back to school to earn a degree may be interested to learn that some institutions offer life experience credits. Keep reading to find out more about taking advantage of what you've already done in your life.

By Jessica Lyons

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How Do Life Experience Credits Work?

Life experience credits, also called work experience credits, are given to students based on what they have done previously in their lives. This could include office work, corporate training, volunteer service, civic activities, independent study or military experience. The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), a non-profit organization, has created the Prior Learning Assessment process for college and universities to determine if students should get life experience credits. Some assessment methods include looking at student portfolios, interviewing students, evaluating training or giving exams.

New York University is one example of a school that offers credits for 'study, work or personal experiences (that) may be equivalent to college level knowledge.' Students could potentially earn up to half of their degree credits this way. Working with an academic advisor, they could take proficiency exams or have their portfolios or transfer credits evaluated.

adult student work experience life experience credits

How Important Are Life Experience Credits?

According to Stamats, a higher education marketing company, adult learners find it very important that their potential schools offer life experience credits. In 2008, Stamats conducted national research released in the report 'Serving Adult Students: What Really Matters?' that showed that life experience is the top consideration for both potential undergraduate and graduate students. In fact, 56 percent of graduate students and 75 percent of undergraduate students said they were 'much more interested' in colleges that gave life experience credit.

Schools offering credits for life experience are certainly more likely to attract adult learners than institutions that do not. When thinking about earning a degree, adult learners should be sure to ask questions about gaining credits for what they've already accomplished. It could help them earn a degree quicker.

Adult learners may also be interested in tips on selecting career education programs.

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