We all dream of the day when a prestigious college will call us with the news that our work has been so outstanding that they are going to just issue us a degree. Well, it is not going to happen for very many people. However, for those who have logged years in a career, the possibility does exist to earn college credit for all of that work.
The first step to gain college hours for your experience is to find a school that accepts this type of credit. A few years ago only a handful of colleges would honor learning by experience. Today, people often have multiple schools to pick from.
Once you have located the school that you will try to gain college hours for your on-the-job learning, obtain the requirements for acceptance of the credits. These will serve as your guide as you build a portfolio of your experiences that relate to the various courses that you want to trade your life experience for classroom hours.
The key to earning college credit for life experience is to be able to prove what you have experienced, and what you learned from the experience. This can be a difficult task if you are too far removed from the experiences. Also, you need to have documented what you have accomplished along the way in some verifiable form.
The school will furnish you the forms to complete for the credit. Make a list of all of the information that you will need to provide. Use this to begin assembling the materials that are needed. The primary document that you will need in most cases is a biographical account of what experience you have. Along with this, explain where you obtained this experience, and list what you learned.
When the biographical materials are complete, you must determine how to prove that what you have written is true. Start this process by assembling any certificates from continuing education, seminars, and specialized training. You should be able to prove what was taught and how extensive the information was that was learned.
Next, go to former employers, supervisors, and coworkers for affidavits verifying that what you claim to have experienced was observed and/or measured by them. Your current place of employment will need to give similar documentation. The school may choose to send forms to the individuals for a more precise definition of your work and responsibilities. Your job performance reviews may also be included at times.
If you are lucky, some or most of these materials can be used multiple times for similar classes. A lot of business and management type classes cover much of the same material. It might be that the same portfolio with only minor modifications can be used to get many hours of credit. So, do not despair at all of the work you have to do.
At the end of the verification process, the educators will review all of the materials for completeness or gaps. At this point, you may be asked to read and write reviews of books that are germane to the topic of the course or courses.
The final step will be for you to write a large check to cover all of the hours earned from life experience. Most colleges do not give a discount for this type of learning credit. You will almost always complete many more hours of credit than the amount of time spent could have earned. Schools might be willing to accept up to 30 or more hours of experience credit.