Experience Counts For Adults Returning To College

One of the most confusing issues for adult students returning to college is learning about earning credits through non-traditional methods. Research shows that for those potential students who were likely to return for a bachelor’s degree, 75 percent reported that they were more interested in institutions that provided credit for their life experience.

It seems that every college has a different policy with regard to College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests, prior learning assessment and other alternative ways for adults to earn credits outside of the classroom. The difficulty is finding the right program that not only meets a student’s needs but also maximizes the number of credits allowed from prior learning. 

Some students find this to be complicated and difficult because of how much information is out there and the research involved. However, the savings in time and money can be significant.

Traditionally, a student takes four to six classes over a 15-week semester. A typical undergraduate student who has earned an associate’s degree will transfer approximately 60 credits to a four-year college. If that student takes 15 credits a semester, it will take two years to complete a bachelor’s degree and cost approximately $40,000 to $50,000.

An adult student, however, may have earned an associate’s degree 10 or 20 years ago, worked a couple of different jobs, gotten a certificate, and studied a language as a hobby. That student could earn more than 30 credits in experiential learning gained from prior employment, community service, and other pursuits. If the student then finds a program that offers classes in the evenings, weekends or online in an accelerated manner, they could complete their degree in less than a year for about $15,000.

One way for adults to earn credit outside of the classroom is by taking a CLEP test. There are 33 tests that examine general knowledge in five subject areas such as foreign languages and mathematics. Many adults are surprised to find the cost of the exam is only $80. When you add in preparation materials, an individual should expect to pay no more than $150 in total. 

Compare this with the $1,200 to $3,000 a student would pay for taking an in-class course, and it is easy to see why the CLEP exam is so popular. For more information, go to the CLEP web page.

CLEP Is just one alternative for earning credits through prior learning. Others include earning credits through military service and portfolio programs. All can shorten the amount of time it takes to finish a degree.

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commented 2017-06-07 05:15:43 -0400 · Flag
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commented 2016-02-06 19:23:33 -0500 · Flag
Thanks for his valuable information. I had no idea about CLEP exams. This is information that needs to be brought to the forefront to adult learners and high school learners. I mention high school because my wife is a high school English teacher of seniors and she didn’t even know about these exams. High schoolers should also be aware of these exams because they could be beneficial to them in the near future. These exams will save time, money, and energy- which is always a plus!
commented 2013-12-24 14:59:26 -0500 · Flag
Thank you