Todd Siben

Todd Siben is the former assistant director of the Office of Prior Learning Assessment and has been with the University for 28 years in a variety of roles. He earned a master's degree from Teachers College of Columbia University and a bachelor's degree from Ramapo College. He is a tireless student advocate and passionate about providing students with the best opportunities for degree completion. He is an author and presenter on many topics related to prior learning assessment and degree completion for adults. He has had a long and successful career as an ice hockey coach and now prefers watching ice hockey (Go New York Rangers!) and playing the piano or guitar.

Recent Posts

Speak a Foreign Language? These 6 Exam Programs Can Help You Earn College Credit for It

According to the Ethnologue, the official catalogue of world languages, there are currently an estimated 7,099 living languages worldwide. How many can you speak?

Whether you know a second language or you’re the world’s greatest living linguist (the world record is 42), studies have shown that knowing another language provides many rewards in the form of increased cognitive capacity and broadened knowledge, let alone the ability to bridge social barriers.

It also gives you the ability to earn college credit. Depending on your linguistic skill level, there are a variety of exams that allow you to earn credit toward your degree by testing your foreign language proficiency. Some of these credit-by-exam programs focus on the oral/speaking aspects of a language, while others test your writing, translating and listening abilities. In fact, if you already speak another language fluently, a single exam can earn you upwards of 12 credits!

Topics: Credit by Exam

Portfolio Assessment: How to Find Your Ideal Match


What’s the most important aspect of portfolio assessment? Is it earning credit for the college-level knowledge you already possess? Is it the ability to articulate that knowledge?  Or, is it your ability to strengthen your portfolio with convincing evidence of prior learning?

To be honest, every one of those are important. However, the entire portfolio assessment process starts with the identification and selection of a course title and description that truly matches and describes the knowledge you claim to have. If you’re able to do this, writing your portfolio becomes much easier when you discuss what you already know.

Topics: Prior Learning Assessment and Portfolio

Want to Earn PLA Credit for a Communications Course? Read This First

By the time most adults are in their 30’s, they have probably spent a good amount of time actively engaged in interpersonal communications. This could include:

  • Personal interactions with teachers, clergy, family members
  • Negotiating with real estate brokers, auto dealers and service technicians, insurance agents and customer service reps
  • Participating in decision-making with co-workers, colleagues or members of community has made them adept communicators

So, does experiencing these interactions mean that most adult students should be awarded prior learning assessment (PLA) credit for the University’s General Education course, Interpersonal Communications (COM-330)?

Quite honestly, no.

Topics: Prior Learning Assessment and Portfolio, Taking Courses

Scared of Math? 5 Ways to Overcome Math Anxiety

5 Considerations to Overcome Math Anxiety

Concerned about the math requirements in your degree? Perhaps it’s been 20 years - or more - since you studied math. Depending on your degree program, fulfilling your math requirement may not be as difficult as you think.

Topics: Taking Courses, Credit by Exam, Areas of Study and Degree Programs

How PLA Courses Can Help You Earn Additional College Credit

Unsure if you possess enough knowledge to earn college credit? Think again.

Do you have a background playing the piano, or are you accomplished in another instrument like guitar or trumpet?

Do you teach pre-school or a daycare provider?

Do you have experience in the marketing or communications field?

Do you work in law enforcement in New Jersey or attended one of the police academies?

Do you have a business background in accounting, finance, management, marketing or another area of business?

Topics: Prior Learning Assessment and Portfolio, Taking Courses

Are You Right for Portfolio Assessment?


Attention writers, salespeople and creative types: I may have a method of earning college credit that fits your personality and skill set.

Students often ask, “Is portfolio assessment for me?” While we can answer that question, I want to turn that question around to help you determine, “Are you right for portfolio assessment?”

Portfolio assessment and prior learning assessment (PLA) may be the most nontraditional method of earning credit, even at nontraditional institutions. It is different than earning credit via a credit-by-exam program. So, what makes someone a good candidate for portfolio assessment?


Topics: Prior Learning Assessment and Portfolio, Taking Courses, Credit by Exam

Is PLA Right for You?

Todd Siben

If you are like many adults, a significant amount of your life knowledge has been acquired through learning experiences that occurred outside of a classroom. Through the University’s Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) courses, you can use your college-level knowledge to earn the credit you deserve.

Because Prior Learning Assessments are such a unique method of earning credit, students often find the concept somewhat difficult to grasp. I'm going to simplify it for you and help you over the next hurdle!

Topics: Prior Learning Assessment and Portfolio, Taking Courses