Adult Learners in College Benefit from Prior Learning Assessment

When adult learners begin at a college, they often have to manage their schoolwork, jobs and family obligations, to successfully receive their degree. One can imagine this being quite an exhausting task. Fortunately, many colleges have found a way to receive credit for what adult learners already know with prior learning assessment.

Prior learning assessment isn’t available at all colleges. However, it can be especially beneficial to adult learners, who have years more experience than the typical college student. Florida colleges offer several options to receive credit for skills and knowledge which students have gained prior to attending their institutions. One such option is credit by examination where a student may take an exam to either earn college credit or to skip a college course. Florida State College estimates that this method is often “less than half the cost of tuition.”

The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) is the most widely accepted credit-by-examination program. More than 2,900 accredited institutions of higher education award credit for satisfactory scores on CLEP exams. CLEP offers a way to receive credit for “what you know.” Although not every institution accepts the CLEP, there are 33 exams available- each for a traditional college course. Most exams are 90 minutes long, and all but College Composition are administered on computer (CLEP-CBT). Preparing to take an exam on computer is still far less time and money than having to attend a course.

A student may also take the Defense Activity Test and Examination Services Subject Standardized Tests (DSST). These are aimed at general education courses and allow a student to skip these courses. There are 25 DSST available for students to take. Another useful exam is the College Course Challenge exam. With these exams, students can receive a letter grade on their transcript yet only if they pass the course. There are 13 CCCE assessments in various subjects.

Along with credits by examination, many colleges also take non-college programs, such as military training into consideration. Most colleges have a specific mode of transferring these skills learned outside of college into credits.

As for the future, Senator Marco Rubio has endorsed prior learning assessment. He has argued that federal student aid should include offerings at adult students, and endorses prior learning assessment such as “online courses or degree programs that give you credit for work experience.” Perhaps there will be even more opportunities for transferring prior learning into college credit in the future.

For more information on prior learning assessment, check out your local colleges website or the following links: