One of the great benefits adult learners enjoy at the University of Arizona Global Campus is the ability to apply a lifetime of professional experience to the classroom, adding valuable perspective and wisdom to daily discussions. However, if you are an adult learner returning to school to earn a bachelor’s degree you shouldn’t have to re-learn something you already know.
That’s why UAGC designed the Experiential Learning Credit (ELC) Workshop.
The ELC Workshop is one of several ways students can earn non-traditional college credit for work/life experience.
“It’s a way to meet the needs of our students in a new and different way,” notes Chief Operating Officer, Katie Scheie.
How the ELC Workshop Works
The ELC Workshop is designed for students who come from professional backgrounds and veteran workers who want to earn a bachelor’s degree in a familiar field. Rather than having to take a five-week course, you’re given an opportunity to write a detailed experiential essay for credit toward your degree program.
Once you have been approved for the workshop, you’ll work your way through a series of five self-paced learning modules that guide you through writing your essay on the course you have identified. For example, if you’re a human resources professional who is returning to school for your Bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management, you may have already mastered the lessons of BUS 303 Human Resource Management. This introductory course covers current standards and practices in HR as well as communication, motivation, and management practices – all of which may be a part of your day-to-day workflow.
After identifying BUS 303 as your chosen course, you will begin the first module by working with the UAGC Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) team to highlight the professional experience that you feel you are qualified to write about. From there, each module will guide you through the creative process.
Throughout the essay writing process, you will learn how to maximize the benefits of UAGC resources such as the Writing Center and Grammarly to ensure your essay meets all of the standards of a traditional research paper.
“The modules are not about how to write any essay,” Scheie says. “They’re about the specific content needed in an experiential essay to prove college-level learning has occurred.”
In other words, your essay needs to demonstrate your knowledge of the learning outcomes for your course.
The Approval Process
Once you’re finished with the five modules and have completed your essay, you will continue to work with the UAGC Prior Learning Assessment team to seek approval by a faculty subject-matter-expert*.
If your essay successfully demonstrates college-level-learning of the course content, you will earn three (3) non-traditional credits toward your bachelor’s degree, and you can cross that course (BUS 303 in this hypothetical scenario) off your list of remaining courses needed in order to graduate.
Once you have successfully completed the ELC Workshop, additional essays may be submitted at the same degree level, without repeating the workshop. That means you can work with your student advisor to identify additional courses within your degree program where you have college-level-learning from your work and life experience. The UAGC nontraditional credit provisions allow for a maximum of 30 PLA credits** to be applied toward bachelor’s degree completion through writing essays that effectively showcase your professional experience and knowledge of the course material. However, it should be noted that students are only allowed to write essays that speak to learning outcomes of UAGC courses, and all learning outcomes must be met for credit to be awarded. Credit may only be awarded for courses that fill a remaining degree requirement.
To get started, speak to your advisor about your interest in the workshop and review the PLA Information Center in your Student Portal. When ready, send a completed Learning Inventory Form, found in the PLA Information Center, to [email protected].
*Students must provide proof of learning during the official PLA review process. PLA credit is never guaranteed until a Faculty Subject Matter Expert has reviewed a submission and any approved credits are applied to a student’s degree progress report. Credits must be earned at the same degree level in order to be applied. Additional restrictions may apply. See the UAGC Academic Catalog for full transfer policies.
**A maximum of 30 PLA credits may be earned towards a bachelor’s degree. A maximum of 6 PLA credits may be earned towards a master’s degree.