THE BLOG
04/23/2013 05:21 pm ET Updated Jun 23, 2013

College Degrees Could Cost Less for Students with Life and Work Experience

Written by Sara Zalek, Associate Director - Marketing and Communications

As Benjamin Franklin so famously noted - and to which many will certainly agree - time is money. On the flipside, many will readily declare that money is time. But what happens when you're a student going after a degree, and you can't afford much in the way of time and/or money?

Unfortunately for some learners, the only option they believe is available for them is to abandon their studies, with no timetable set on a future return. However, with more higher education institutions turning to the evaluation method of prior learning assessment (PLA) - which evaluates skills gained outside of a classroom setting - adults with extensive professional experience are in a better position to receive a degree than might have been possible before. And in a survey recently conducted by our organization, the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), a group of adults described how earning college credit for what they already know has helped them achieve their educational goals.

Over 100 students enrolled in CAEL's program, LearningCounts.org, were polled for the survey - most of whom had been out of school for at least ten years before resuming their studies. These LearningCounts students were eligible to receive course credit from a variety of learning experiences - such as through prior employment, military service, volunteerism, and online learning - and results from the survey show that earning college credit this way is significantly benefiting their educational pursuits.

Most students polled said the program saved them both time and money. Additionally, a majority of students said CAEL's process of building a Learning Portfolio to showcase what they learned helped them to organize their education, career, and life goals more clearly. And most surveyed said they were able to attain their degrees after LearningCounts assessed their portfolios for college credit, no doubt the best return on investment of time and money a returning adult student can ask for.

As more American jobs of the future will require a postsecondary degree, the importance of making education accessible to all who desire it cannot be overstated. This particularly holds true for adults who long ago - due to life circumstances - put their dreams of a degree on hold, and who may not have before seen any way possible to resume their studies.

If time is money and money is time, and if our country is looking to maximize the most out of both from the educational process, then it makes all the sense in the world for more higher education institutions to help adult students earn college credit for what they already know.

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