Going back to college can be a difficult decision to come to for those that have been out of school for a long time. The idea can seem almost pointless when someone has plenty of on-the-job training and doesn’t want to take the time to sit through a bunch of classes.
But there is the possibility of using your life experience to obtain college credits towards a degree. This can be a great solution for older working adults, but be careful when attempting this. There are several sham universities out there that would be happy to take your money and send you a fake college degree based on your life experience.
There are a few options for receiving genuine college credit for your life experiences though. Some schools will actually consider awarding credit for experience, so it’s important to be in touch with your college advisor. Keep in mind that you will not be able to get a degree based only on life experience, so if you see something offering that, it’s probably bogus.
Schools typically have a couple of ways to determine if they will count your life experience towards college credit.
Here are two of the most common:
The learning portfolio: This particular portfolio would include written documents that show a student has learned the same material that would be taught in a particular course. The portfolio materials would have to contain evidence of college level learning. Another component of this type of portfolio is some documentation that the student has learned what they claim to have learned. This can be in the form of certifications or letters from an employer verifying the skills.
The portfolio option can be very time consuming due to the difficult nature of trying to show the evidence of knowledge for a particular course. The portfolio is often presented to a college professor or committee of college representatives.
Testing out of courses: The most common test for this is the College Level Examination Program or CLEP. This test is available to cover several general subjects like math, English composition, natural science, social science and history. These tests would cover the material that would be taught in these subjects.
Many schools will decide how much credit to award based on how well the student does on the test. If you are thinking of going the test route, it’s still important to be well-prepared. Take some practice tests and engage in good standardized test practices. You may be limited to how many credits you can earn through either option, but every credit puts you closer to earning your degree.