As anyone who's gone back to college after some time off will tell you, maximizing the number of credits you can transfer from your old school to your new one is an absolute must. It's a great way to save time, money, and effort, and it can give you a head start as you dive back into school.
But transferring credits between schools isn't the only way to enroll in college with some credits already to your name. Whether you've already logged some classroom time or not, you may have accumulated other forms of valuable work experience (or what is known as "prior learning") that can be translated into college credits. Here at the University of Arizona Global Campus, you can earn college credit for some of your prior work experience to save time and money.
Earn Credit for Your Work Experience
For students who are either resuming or kicking off their higher education later in life, work experience can often be a major source of potential college credits. After all, one of the most effective ways to learn a concept or skill is by doing it, especially day in and day out.
Keep in mind, however, that it's not just about simply having a job, but also about what you learned in the process. Be prepared to document and explain how your work experiences have theoretical and conceptual value – in other words, how did they give you the kind of knowledge that a college class might? When translating work experiences into credits, this point is a major consideration.
Another key when it comes to getting college credit for work experience is to do your research ahead of time. As you put together the list of schools you're thinking of applying to, check out their websites to see what kind of transfer-credit options they offer. Institutions that will consider prior experience for college credit are less hard to find than you might think.
Above all, don't forget: The better you understand your new school's eligibility requirements for transferring credits, the easier and faster it will be to work with the school to see if your work experience can translate into college credits. Remember that not all schools grant college credit for work experience.
Beyond Work: Other Sources of Experience
College Credit for Job Training: Credits awarded based on work experience don't only have to come from the knowledge you gained day-to-day on the job. Some jobs expose workers to formal training programs that can be a source of college credit, as well. Job training is a form of learning, so don't hesitate to see if any of yours might be eligible for credits.
College Credit for Military Experience: Speaking of training programs, another major source of potential credits that some colleges will consider is military training. For veterans going back to school, being able to translate some of their service to college credit is a great way to earn their degree faster. You can even request a transcript for military service that will show your military training. This step can help in your process of requesting college credits for your military experience.
College Credit for Life Experience: Some schools will even offer college credit for experiences in your life that are relevant to your course work. There are tests that some schools accept such as the CLEP (College-Level Examination Program) that allow students to receive college credit for the previous knowledge that they have. This knowledge can come from professional life experience or independent studies.
Students who are looking to make the most out of their return to school can give themselves a terrific leg up by maximizing the amount of credits they come into their new school with. Don't be fooled by the common myth that only other college classes can be used to claim college credits. Make sure you know your school's policies, and be prepared to make your case, and you could find yourself on an accelerated path toward your degree.