Colleges That Give Credit For Life Experience


Pursuing a bachelor’s in a specific college or university can be costly. There is a recent survey says that the average of each credit hour in US colleges and universities sits at $594, and this amount is projected to up in small increments in the next few years.

However, you can earn college credits through “Life Experience.” Many colleges accept “Life Experience” as academic credits – the non-conventional requirement for college admission that eliminates obligatory spending on the part of the financially struggling student. You will not get a Life or work Experience Degree with just those types of credits, however, college credits for work or life experience will go a long way in achieving the end goal.

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What Are Life Experience Credits?

Presenting your “Life Experience” to be considered as college credits is an option that many college-bound students can take. This applies particularly to individuals who have opted to have gained additional knowledge and skills outside the classroom upon high school graduation.

Volunteers as volunteers collect donations for charitable organizations

By definition, “Life Experience” or should we say Life Credits are obtained through specific activities such as community work, volunteerism, seminars, workshops, skills training, or participation in a nonprofit organization. Adult college students who have acquired college-level know-how at work or through other experiences can convert those life credits to real academic credits.

With life experience credits, you can either skip general education class or obtain a method of learning the fast-forwards your way to completing your degree. Either way, attending college becomes less costly.

Strategies to Earn Credits

Those undergraduates who have been out of high school for a couple of years before contemplating college have gained learning that could only happen outside the school. Notwithstanding, if you have served in the military or have gained direct knowledge in the corporate world, undergraduates who certify for life credit have frequently gained new knowledge and ability along the way, which can add up toward needed college credits.

If you have been working or volunteering for many years or performed duties for the military before, then you could be qualified to utilize your experience or training for college credits to complete a college degree faster.

How to do this? There are many strategies that you can do to start earning college credits using your life experiences. Are you are planning to attend college, and wondering how to utilize your life experiences, and convert them into real college credits? Here are ways to do just that.

Challenge Examinations

College students may take school-administered tests provided that they have prior learning experiences related to their course or degree. School-administered tests are provided by independent colleges and universities that permit undergraduates to take the final test assuredly if they have acquired the capability about the topic before.

college students

The results of the exam will gauge the student’s eligibility to be granted academic credits based on their life experience credits without the need to go through the whole course. Some colleges and universities provide a regulated list of tests classes annually, while there are others permit undergraduates to choose the classes they would like to take the test.

The requirements for taking challenge examinations differ by independent colleges and universities. Still, they usually need undergraduates to register for the test, give details on where they have gained the knowledge or skill, and acquire authorization to take the test from the administrative chairperson.

The cost of the examination depends on the school, so it is necessary to review the fee with the school administrator. It is also essential that undergraduates examine the school on how they provide challenge examinations.

College Level Examination Program (CLEP)

The CLEP enables students to go through a series of college-level tests according to previous life experiences and knowledge on particular subject areas. It provides thirty-four tests that engulf entry-level college course information.

You could gain more than three college credits at more than 2,900 colleges and universities in the U.S. once the undergraduate got a passing score on the College Level Examination Program. The passing score per subject area is 50 out of 80 items.

The College Level Examination Program was formed to aid undergraduates with advanced skills or knowledge in a course subject in college to gain their college degree effectively and in low-price. Nowadays, the College Level Examination Program profits everyone involving high school and college students, grown-up trainees, service units, army veterans, and even office workers who are pursuing continuing college credits.

You can register the CLEP credit to the school’s center requirement. The College Level Examination Program differ on what kind of credit you can get from the school, so the undergraduate must find this out first. Some schools will exempt you from a needed course but will get no credit.

DANTES Subject Standardized Test (DSST)

About 2,000 colleges and universities accept and recognize DSST credits. The DANTES Subject Standardized Test has thirty-eight topic examinations from which to choose training, namely Math, Science, Humanities, and Business. For prior knowledge and experiences to be considered as credits, students are advised to coordinate with their school and check the number of credits that they can earn, as well as the tests they need for credit acquisition.

Both DSST and CLEP are funded by DANTES to test the knowledge level obtained by prior life experiences. Taking and advancing both DSST and CLEP authorizes undergraduates with prior learning experiences to acquire college credit that can be registered to converge college degree qualifications. The upfront examination fees are financed by DANTES for the eligible undergraduates on their first attempt only on all examination subjects.

The college credit proposals for these examinations are created via the American Council on Education and are bound by the acceptance of independent colleges and universities.

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Portfolio

The PLA program provides an opportunity for college students to gain academic credits through the demonstration of skills, talents, and life experiences in a portfolio. This student portfolio should include detailed descriptions of the results and provide evidence of their learning, skills, and abilities acquired.

To be able to create a compelling portfolio, there are academic institutions that require students to take specific courses and seminar-workshops on portfolio development. PLA credits may be obtained through corporate training, military experience, community activities, and volunteer work.

If you want to take an independent PLA, then present the proposal form of PLA and ensure to point out the semester in the time you want to take the Prior Learning Assessment.

UExcel Credit by Exam

Gaining college credit through an examination demands you to enter on a term of recommended and disciplined self-learning to obtain the knowledge of a particular subject. UExcel is a credit through tests program that permits undergraduates to gain college credit for the experiences and skills they obtained elsewhere.

Passing the UExcel Credit by Exam means the acquisition of credits from several reputable higher education institutions. UExcel incorporates 60 or more tests on specific subject areas such as creative writing, natural sciences, social sciences, education, and business.

Experiential Essay

Experiential essays require college students to talk in detail about their life experiences and qualify for nontraditional academic credits. To formulate an effective essay, the student must provide details on how life experiences have helped them understand the learning outcomes that are equivalent to their coursework or degree programs.

This type of strategy to gain college credit mentions only your life experience without taking on theoretical citations or any other types of information sources. There are guidelines for writing an experiential essay that you can learn to write it in a correct way or format.

What Colleges Give Credit For Life Experience?

If you think you have the capabilities that an education program conspires to educate you, then you can get credits by presenting your life experience instead of finishing the educational program. We have listed 19 higher education institutions that, following evaluation, will convert your life experience as a college credit:

Thomas Edison State University (TESU)

Thomas Edison State University in Trenton, New Jersey recognizes bachelor’s-level knowledge regardless of how it was acquired. TESU’s PLA process enables college students to self-evaluate and check their eligibility for college credits. The university’s credit-by-exam program or TECEP can also be utilized to earn college credits through a final test instead of going through the entire coursework. CLEP and DSST programs also accept credits gained through other assessment procedures.

TESU also has an open course alternative that permits college students to attend free online courses through the Saylor Foundation. The knowledge they have acquired from these online courses can then be applied through credit-by-exam programs, TECEP, and portfolio evaluation. TESU also accepts life experiences and converts it to college credits through effective professional training programs, optional military training, and portfolio assessment.

Central Michigan University (Global Campus)

Located in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, Central Michigan University (CMU) Global Campus runs a prior learning program that allows online college students to utilize the alternative learning approach and their life experience, and convert it to up to 60 undergraduate credits. The competency model of CMU Global acknowledges life experience regardless of whether the university provides courses based on prior learning.

CMU Global’s prior learning program recognizes life experience as college credits through specific exams, seminars, workshops, professional enhancement, and volunteer work. Students are asked to comply with the CLEP and PLA processes.

Colorado State University (Global Campus)

The online learning aspect of Colorado State University (CSU) Global in Fort Collins, Colorado enables students to complete bachelor’s degrees through the CSU-Global Competency-Based Exams (CBEs), Advanced Placement Exam, CLEP, DSST and other tests. Through the CBEs, course credits are earned if the online student scores at least 70%. Another option is the credit by exam process. Criteria for credit acceptance includes scores obtained, degree program, and the period during which when the credit was acquired.

Linfield College

The continuing education program of Linfield College in McMinville, Oregon allows online college students to gain additional credits from voluntary work, family, personal interest, job training, seminar-workshops, and travel.

Credits from life experience can be acquired through CLEP or challenge exams based on courses or portfolio assessments. Online students who had previous experience in military and workforce training can also obtain credits.

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU)

Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, New Hampshire conducts various examinations such as CLEP, Advanced Placement (AP), or DSST for conversion of life experience to academic credits.

Online students at SNHU may also gain 15 college credits through a portfolio that documents evidencing learning experiences such as business ownership, pursuit for interests or hobbies, and community-related activities. All these go through the university’s evaluation process.

University of Maryland University College (UMUC)

Students at the University of Maryland University College in Adelphi, Maryland are offered two opportunities to earn college credits from experiential learning. One is through course challenges in which the student needs to pass a specific exam and another is through a prior learning portfolio, wherein students need to provide complete details and add value to their lifelong experiences.

Wilmington University

Wilmington University in New Castle, Delaware awards academic credits for life experience through traditional and online means. The university has set a criteria for evaluating the credentials of college students in order to check their qualifications for credits.

Cost-efficient exam providers like DSST, CLEP, and UExcel provide an alternative approach to earn selected course credits. A portfolio is also required for assessment.

Ashford University

At Ashford University in San Diego, California, students are interviewed by designated advisors to talk about their life experiences such as military training, management of a nonprofit organization, management of business, volunteerism in community work, publication of a book, or independent language study.

Full details of these experiences are also compiled in a portfolio and assessed for eligibility based on certain learning outcomes that are equivalent to the student’s coursework and degree program. Students are asked to apply the theories and principles relating to their life experiences and their future careers.

North Park University

The School of Professional Studies at North Park University in Chicago, Illinois offers the PLA program to grant students with academic credits based on how their life experiences align with their courses or degree of choice. Aside from the PLA projects, North Park University also conducts the CLEP and other forms of exams, and requires students to write an experiential essay to exhibit their learning from those life experiences.

Southeast Arkansas College

Southeast Arkansas College in Pine Bluff, Arkansas converts nontraditional learning through training, community work, and volunteerism to college credits. Students are asked to enroll in Portfolio Development and Experience Evaluation courses where they are expected to produce written portfolios of their life experiences and show comprehension of the course objectives. Students who create portfolios demonstrating equivalence of traditional college coursework are awarded 15 credits. The college’s Vice President for Academic Affairs gives the final approval.

Edinboro University

The bachelor’s degree program of Edinboro University in Edinboro, Pennsylvania converts college credits through life experiences through detailed portfolios. Those experiences should be equivalent to the traditional course requirements in the university. Life experience portfolios are assessed by the university’s Office of Transfer and Adult Student Services. All forms of life and learning experiences including corresponding fees from job training should be properly explained. The portfolio, in turn, must be submitted completely through a one-time application process.

Franklin Pierce University

The PLA program of Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, New Hampshire acknowledges life experiences and converts them as academic credits. To qualify, college students with a bachelor’s degree program need to create their own portfolios that indicate their previous skills and knowledge acquired from various training and activities. Portfolio Preparation is also one of the courses at Franklin Pierce that allow students to check on several forms of learning experiences that can be considered as academic credits.

Portfolio preparation at Franklin Pierce can also be learned through proper guidance and support from the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), a partner organization of Franklin Pierce College. CAEL’s responsibility is to formulate recommendations, on how to effectively make impressive portfolios and earn life experience credits.

Berklee College of Music (BCM)

Berklee College of Music Online in Boston, Massachusetts grants 30 credits or more to college undergraduates demonstrating specialized skills through prior learning activities, provided that students are pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Professional Studies. These learning experiences should also be matched with required courses in the music school, such as those relating to interdisciplinary music studies, music composition, song writing, electronic and basic music production. Students are also required to create a written portfolio describing their training, interests, musical background, exposure, as well as personal life in order to be assessed and eventually granted with college credits.

Remember that while applying for your life experience to be converted to academic credits sounds easy enough through the standardized examinations, it all boils down to the academic institution. Their requirements vary; what is acceptable to one may not qualify to the other. Assessments or evaluations as they pertain to experiential learning aren’t the same for all schools.

Even so, academic credits earned from life experience benefit all college students. While acknowledging their skills, it also provides students huge savings. Not only that; this option lets them finish their courses and even earn their degree in a fraction of the time it would take for them the usual way online or in a traditional academic setting.

DeSales University

DeSales University in Center Valley, Pennsylvania, offers the ACCESS Program for adult undergraduates, which aims to help them finish college courses and gain a bachelor’s degree at their chosen pace, time, and location (on-campus or online).

The university accepts 75 credits for transfer, and the undergraduates can gain college credits for their life or work experiences in many ways, such as CLEP or DSST assessments. The undergraduate also can have sufficient access to services such as financial assistance and educational support while enrolled.

Wisconsin Lutheran College

Wisconsin Lutheran College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, converts prior knowledge from life and works experiences into college credits. As the institution continues to develop, its services to distance-learning undergraduates will develop with it. They accept 45 college credits from a prior life and work experiences. The undergraduates can apply CLEP assessment results to their chosen college degree, and they can also send a PLA portfolio.

Displaying proficiency in particular areas in different ways will grant you to gain college credits, just as any other training experience you gained in a professional position.

Walsh University

Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio, welcomes college credits from CLEP and DSST assessments, work training, and even life experiences once undergraduates can appropriately display their capabilities in their PLA portfolio.

Albertus Magnus College

Albert Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut, has some of the most workable programs online for undergraduates. They are devoted to qualifying students to enroll in a program that is effective, suited, and meets all their needs. Previous learning credits can be gained from DSST, CLEP, challenge examination, and by presenting a portfolio. Undergraduates are entitled to financial support as the institution offers access to career services, experiential learning, and training.

Ready to Turn Your “Life Experiences” to College Credits?

There are many different ways that undergraduates can gain college credits, depending on their “Life Experiences.” However, not all colleges and universities give credence to all the strategies mentioned above to earn college credits. Some colleges and universities provide separate numbers of credit, so undergraduates should examine with their educational institution to find what is feasible.

When you have a list of the potential educational institutions to examine, know what kind and numbers of college credits they will permit so you can weigh up your choices. You can reach out to the school admission sector also to inquire more if your life or work experiences can be granted as college credits in their plan. You can also inquire about what you can do to manifest your knowledge.

Remember that while applying for your life experience to be converted to academic credits sounds easy enough through the standardized examinations, it all boils down to the academic institution. Their requirements vary; what is acceptable to one may not qualify for the other. Assessments or evaluations as they pertain to experiential learning aren’t the same for all schools.

Even so, academic credits earned from life experience benefit all college students. While acknowledging their skills, it also provides students huge savings. Not only that, but this option also lets them finish their courses and even earn their degree in a fraction of the time it would take for them the usual way online or in a traditional academic setting.