Thomas Edison State University By Thomas Edison State University • February 20, 2015

7 Ways to Earn College Credit for What You Already Know

Remember when you were that fresh-faced teen who just graduated from high school with no experience or understanding of the world? 

Today, things are probably much different for you as an adult. Maybe you run your own business, supervise employees or manage corporate finances. Perhaps you’ve dedicated your career to law enforcement or child care. Maybe you are an accomplished musician or have a background in computer programming.

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You have probably learned a lot since your early days, and what you’ve learned might help you earn credit toward a bachelor's degree.

Here are some options to help you transfer credit or earn credit based on what you already know.   

1. Professional Licenses and Certifications

If you possess a valid license because of a training program you completed through your profession, it may help you earn your degree faster. More than 60 professional licenses, certifications and organization’s training programs have already been reviewed for college credit in areas ranging from aviation and health care to law enforcement and construction. Some programs and credentials may even award up to 60 credits toward an undergraduate degree. 

2. Professional and Workplace Training Programs

If you participated in any apprenticeships and courses through your workplace, it may have already been evaluated and approved for college credit. The American Council on Education (ACE) and the National College Credit Recommendation Service (NCCRS) have reviewed several workplace training and education programs, professional licenses, certifications, certification exams, and other credentials typically offered by corporations, government agencies, labor unions, and professional associations.

3. Portfolio Assessment

Students create portfolios that demonstrate college-level knowledge obtained through work, hobbies or some other kind of training to earn college credit.

It’s a common misconception that course credit can be awarded for life experience. With portfolio assessment, you earn credit by demonstrating you possess the knowledge that you would have gained in the course.

Typically, creative types (writers, painters, etc.) savers, paper chasers, salespeople - essentially, anyone who can show evidence of their work - tend to be the best candidates for portfolio assessment. So if any of these characteristics sound familiar, then perhaps there’s college credit already in your head that has yet to be documented and validated.

4. Military Training

If you have military training or you attended a military service school, your training and education can apply as college credit toward your degree, and better help you prepare for a civilian career or advance your rank. Your branch of the U.S. military indicates where and how you can get your military training documented and submitted as an official transcript.  

5. Teaching College-level Courses

Did you have the sole responsibility of teaching a college course? Were you the primary instructor or the person responsible for determining and submitting course grades?

There are instances where a regionally accredited college or university may employ a faculty instructor who is without a completed baccalaureate degree. These courses must have been taught for credit, or the courses have been reviewed and recommended for college credit by the American Council on Education.

Teaching a course at the college or university level requires the mastery of the material being taught. And since there is a certain level of expertise in teaching such courses, you can be awarded college credit toward a degree program for the courses you taught

6. Credit by exam programs.

You can earn credit by taking an exam - without ever taking a course.

There are hundreds of examinations through testing programs, such as TECEP®, CLEP and DSST, that reflect content areas commonly covered in college courses. If you can demonstrate what you know by satisfactorily passing one of these exams, you can earn yourself college credit in practically half the time it would take you in a college course.  

7. College courses.

If you studied at a regionally accredited community college or four-year institution, you can transfer and apply credits toward a degree. Even if you have studied at more than one institution, provided it is regionally accredited, it’s important to send official transcripts and documentation of all your past college credits. After all, every little bit can help shorten your time to earn a degree.

Now isn’t it time you got the credit you deserve? 

Thomas Edison State University

Written by Thomas Edison State University

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