How to turn your knowledge and experience into college credit

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By Susan Pohorski

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If you feel like you are worth more than your high school transcripts show, you may be right.

Most people know you need to provide your transcript when applying to college, but did you know you can present evidence of other training, certification, work experience or examination scores to earn college credit when you enroll at a Wisconsin technical college?

Here are the six categories of credit for prior learning (CPL):

1.     Post-secondary credit earned at a Wisconsin Technical College System college

2.     Post–secondary credits earned at non-WTCS colleges

3.     High school course credit

4.     Registered apprenticeship

5.     Credit by exam

6.     Experiential learning

Be sure to contact your college to find out the procedure for gaining CPL as each college may have different processes.

High school students may earn credit through advanced standing, transcripted credit or Youth Apprenticeship. Students who have completed a registered apprenticeship and want to pursue an associate of arts degree in technical studies -Journey Worker can receive technical credits.

For credit by exam, colleges offer College-Level Examination Program (CLEP). A college will award full credit for the equivalent course to students who receive a 50 or above on the exam. For example, if a student takes the Biology CLEP exam and scores high enough, Fox Valley Technical College will award them credit for a General Biology course.

You can also receive credit for nationally recognized exams in specific occupational areas. DSST offers more than 30 exams to help you receive college credit for learning acquired outside the traditional classroom. In some cases you can take the exams at your technical college.

“The exams are not free, but cost less than a full semester course tuition,” said Ann Westrich, Career Prep Education Director for the Wisconsin Technical College System.

Your work experience, including military service, could earn you college credit too, if the college deems that your experiences are comparable to the content and rigor of a course.

For example, a student may have earned CISCO credentials in high school for information technology knowledge and skills and may have related work experience. This could be considered for course credit by a technical college.

In some cases each division of the college may have different guidelines for presenting your work for evaluation.

To earn CPL you may need to provide documentation such as: a cover letter describing the rationale for your request, a job description, a portfolio of work examples, references, a resume, verification of certification, license or military service documentation. Again be sure to contact the college to find out the procedure for this evaluation. Some colleges offer CPL information sessions.

Credit for prior learning can save you time and money on the way to your college degree. Be sure to get the credit you deserve. Contact your local college or go to their website and search for “credit for prior learning” to find out how.

“There is no guarantee, but you might as well check into it,” Westrich said.




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