Clinton Community College Life Experience Credit Guidelines

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1 Clinton Community College Life Experience Credit Guidelines What is Life Experience Credit? A college degree is awarded to students who earn the specific number of college credits in a program curriculum. Traditionally, completing college courses accumulates college degree credits, however, Clinton Community College recognizes that college level learning may be acquired outside the traditional classroom setting. Students may be awarded college credit for prior work experiences in which college level learning occurred. The most important point is that Life Experience Credit is awarded for learning, not for experience. Did the prior learning experience provide the same knowledge, content and results that would have been learned from a college level course in a similar area? And, is such equivalence able to be documented? In order to be awarded Life Experience Credit, the learning outcomes must be shown to be equivalent to college level learning. Many students have prior learning experiences that are extremely valuable and worthwhile, however, these experiences may not convert into college credit. In fact, these experiences may be more valuable to you, as a person, than college classroom experiences! Awarding college credit for experience, however, requires identifying and documenting the college learning gained outside the classroom. How do I know if I am eligible for Life Experience Credit? Interested students should schedule a meeting with the Life Experience Credit Coordinator and should be ready to discuss any significant prior learning experiences. The coordinator can then advise the student whether or not to pursue Life Experience Credit, and which method is most appropriate. Do all students have the opportunity for Life Experience Credit? Any student may apply for Life Experience Credit; however, the traditional high school graduate entering college does not usually have significant prior learning experiences to present for evaluation. Adult students with long job histories and/or previous job training (civilian and military) are typically the best candidates for Life Experience Credit. Do I receive a grade as well as credit for my Life Experience Credit? Since the experiential learning occurred outside of the College, the course credit awarded through life experience methods appears as transfer credit on a college transcript. Transfer credits on a college transcript indicates the institution from which it originated and has no impact on current Grade Point Average (GPA). Life Experience Credit awarded does not carry a grade and will not count towards your GPA. In comparison to transfer credits, college credits approved by the Registrar, evaluator, converted from ACE of PONSI, a passing mark on a CLEP/DANTES exam, or proficiency score will be indicated on the student s transcript and count towards graduation.

2 Once I receive Life Experience Credit, what kind of credit is awarded? How does Life Experience Credit apply towards a degree? Life Experience Credit may be specific course credit; elective credit in a specific area or it may be free elective credit. The student should always ask what kind of credit they are eligible for, plus check the college catalog to see how each type of credit fits into his/her degree program. In the portfolio process method, a student may receive a combination of all three types of credit. Can I receive Life Experience Credit in a specific area and then choose to take a college course in a similar area? No duplication of credit is permitted. For example, if a student receives business accounting credit for a prior learning accounting experience, they could not sign up for the Accounting I course due to duplication of course content. Also, no duplication of course work is permitted after receiving prior learning credit through CLEP, DANTES, or Regents College Exams. A faculty advisor can help select related college courses that cover skills students have not received credit for through Life Experience Credit. Do I have to take the Life Experience Credit course to receive college credit for my prior learning experiences? Students can develop and submit portfolio for possible college credit on their own, however, Clinton Community College offers a course in portfolio development which is intended for students who have accumulated college level knowledge and learning outside of the classroom. This 3 credit hour business elective course is not required for students who seek life experience credit through portfolio evaluation; it is recommended to students who seek up to a maximum of 15 credit hours through multiple evaluations. A business professor guides students through portfolio development and the documentation of prior learning focused on the specific course content in which the student applies for. Student applicants are interviewed to determine if they qualify for 9 or more credit hours of proposed life experience credit before the course begins. Will all Life Experience Credit awarded count towards a degree? It depends upon the college degree program a student chooses. Each college degree has specific degree requirements. A student must check the college catalog and consult with an Academic Advisor to see how credits earned through Life Experience Credit will satisfy each degree requirement. For example, a student completes all four methods of Life Experience Credit evaluation: The college awards 3 English credits through standardized testing (CLEP), 4 Accounting Credits (proficiency exam), 3 Business Management Credits (ACE conversion), and 5 Free Elective Credits (portfolio review of 10 years business experience). By looking through the catalog at different degree requirements, you will see that depending on the desired degree, the student will be able to use 6, 10, or 15 of the credits awarded. The Life Experience Credit evaluation process may grant college credit, but how and if the credit applies depends on the degree curriculum. A student should also be aware that each college has the right to review all credits, including Life Experience Credit to re-determine how awarded credits will now apply at their institution.

3 What methods are available for me to document my prior learning experience equals college level learning? Students must document they have acquired the same knowledge from prior learning experiences as one would have gained from a college level classroom experience. There are four methods available for demonstrating prior learning experience is equivalent to college level learning credits: 1. Direct Conversion Guidebooks 2. Standardized Examinations 3. College Proficiency Test 4. Portfolio Review and Evaluation Each method has its own special procedures and advantages/disadvantages. The following descriptions should help determine which method is best for each course credit. 1. Direct Conversion Guidebooks: This is by far the easiest method to gain college credit for prior learning experiences (especially work experience). Work experience or job training, before or during employment, may already have been converted into college credit. Nationally recognized guidebooks (American Council on Education or Program on Non-Collegiate Sponsored Instruction) have established recommended credit conversion for civilian or military jobs. Remember, these are only recommendations. Credit recommendations based on individual college policies and the curriculum requirements unique to each college program. The college Registrar can provide an estimate as to the credit conversion. To have potential credits actually evaluated (converted by guidebook and placed on college transcript), the student must make an appointment with the Registrar and provide documentation. Advantage: Quick, simple, easy, no fees. Disadvantage: Specific work experience may not be listed in the guidebooks. 2. Standardized Examinations: College Level Examination Program Services, Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support and Regents College Examinations are testing services, which offer college proficiency exams in many academic subjects. A student may have acquired knowledge through prior learning experiences, which can be validated by passing a standardized test. CLEP/Dantes/Regents College Exams have testing centers throughout New York State. The closest testing center can provide all the pertinent information including a list of examinations, application process, fees ($110-$265), test dates, study guides, etc. A testing center is located in the Learning Center (Feinberg Building Room 103) at Plattsburgh State University ( ). Questions concerning Regents College Examinations can also be directed to the central office: Regents College Examinations, Cultural Education Center, Albany, NY ( ).

4 If a student chooses to take CLEP/Dantes/Regents College Exams as the best method to document life experience credit, they should follow these procedures: a) Check with the College Division Chairperson (English, Business, Math, Science, etc.) to see which CLEP/Dantes/Regents College Exams are acceptable for credit at the college. The student should bring the title of the specific test and ask for guidance. The Admissions Office and the Academic Affairs Office can provide the name of the proper Division Chairperson to see. Always ask what test version and score is needed on the exam to receive college credit. The Registrar can also advise students on acceptable tests and acceptable scores. b) Once the student knows which test to take and what score must be achieved, they need to sign up at the proper testing center. The test center will provide students with study guides to help prepare. c) When the student receives their test score, they need to bring the official notification to the college Registrar. If his/her score meets the minimum college requirement for the particular test, the credit can then be placed officially on their college transcript. Advantage: Quick, simple, easy, check with Division Chairperson or Registrar for the right test, pay the test fee (no college fee), pass test, and receive credit. Disadvantage: CLEP/Dantes/Regents College Exams may not have a test covering particular expertise; College Division may not accept certain CLEP/Dantes/Regents College Exams; all the arrangements are handled by the student, the college only records the results. 3. College Proficiency Exams: All college courses are listed in the college catalog with a brief description. Upon reviewing these courses, the student may find a subject, which is similar in content to his/her prior learning knowledge. If the student feels they have already mastered the course content, they may request to take a proficiency exam to prove his/her knowledge. Students should discuss this option with a faculty member who teaches the subject they wish to challenge. By passing the exam, they will receive college credit without attending class. Again, once the student receives their score, they must ask the Registrar to record the credit on a transcript. A $45.00 per credit hour fee is charged for the proficiency exam and posting credits. Retaking in-house proficiency exams is not allowed without permission from the specific department that initiated the first exam. For more details on the proficiency exams, see the college catalog. Advantage: Testing is provided by the college, no traveling to testing centers. Textbooks and suggestions from instructor may help preparation. More personal that CLEP/Dantes/Regents College Exams Disadvantage: All professors and departments may not offer proficiency exams. College fee charged.

5 4. Credit by portfolio review and evaluation process: Portfolio review is the most popular method with adults requesting Life Experience Credit, however, some of the popularity for the portfolio review is due to the misunderstanding of the portfolio review process. Students sometimes mistakenly believe that they simply tell the college about his/her experience and the college awards credit! This is not true! Portfolio review entails a step-by-step process with specific guidelines. To be eligible for portfolio review, a student must be enrolled at the college. Students may be eligible for 0-15 credits, if they meet the portfolio criteria (15 credit limit pertains to portfolio method only). A college fee is charged for each course considered via portfolio review prior to evaluation. A portfolio is a documented description of prior learning experiences, which can be evaluated by an appropriate faculty member for possible college credit. A portfolio is much more specific than a resume and must contain a detailed account of previous training, job tasks, job content, hours at specific assignments, proof of expertise and how these relate to the course content of the equivalent college level course. A student s portfolio must specifically demonstrate what has been learned and identify this prior learning experience as college level learning. Students who complete portfolio should review college course outlines to determine how his/her own experiences relate such knowledge. Life Experience Credit is awarded for learning that has a balance, appropriate to the subject and level of competence, between theory and application. Life experience is often the application of academic knowledge and individual portfolio need to demonstrate how classroom theory is learned through real world practice. The following describes the portfolio review and evaluation process: a) The student completes an application for credit by portfolio evaluation available in the Life Experience Credit Coordinator s office located in the Department of Continuing Education. The Life Experience Credit Coordinator will guide the student through the portfolio process and will provide them with the necessary forms to be completed. b) The student needs to schedule a meeting with his or her academic advisor about the correlation of coursework to his or her experience and gain approval to proceed. The student will have the opportunity to outline and review what credit they are seeking and how his or her portfolio may help document the expertise. The amount of credit and type of credit is unknown until completion of the process. c) The student identifies and meets with the evaluating instructor to obtain a course syllabus and discusses the expected outcome of the student s portfolio. These course outlines will help the student organize their experiences clearly and also help relate experiences to similar college level learning outcomes. The instructor and student agree upon evaluation arrangements. d) Once the application form is complete, the student must receive approval and complete payment at the Bursar s office. The student makes payment to the Clinton Community College Bursar s Office at the rate of $45.00 per credit hour of assessment. Fees charged for Life Experience Credit are

6 based on the time needed for evaluation and portfolio assessment, not upon the level of competence assessed. A separate fee must be paid for each course, and each course must have a separate portfolio. e) The receipt and completed form must be brought to the evaluating instructor with the portfolio for evaluation. The instructor evaluates the portfolio and determines if the documentation is sufficient to award credit and indicates a decision on the application. As a result, the student may be asked to re-do certain areas or provide more information and additional documentation. Recommendation for the amount of credit is based on guidelines and the evaluator s professional judgment and is not derived by a simple mathematical conversion. Knowledge not related to the content or outcome expected from a college level learning experience, although worthwhile and interesting, will not help gain college credit. Portfolio evaluation could result in no college credit being awarded. f) The portfolio and application is returned to the Life Experience Credit Coordinator in order to inform the student of the outcome of the evaluation. If the portfolio passes the requirements of the course, the Life Experience Credit Coordinator will forward the application to the Registrar to record the credit awarded on the student s transcript. If possible, the evaluator should inform the student of the reason why no credit can be awarded if this is the case. g) The Vice President of Academic Affairs and the Life Experience Credit Coordinator sign the final credit recommendation by the faculty evaluator. Copies of the credit approval are then sent to the registrar who posts any credit awarded to the student s transcript. h) If credit is not awarded, it is not recommended that the student pursue a second portfolio unless a significant change has taken place concerning the student s prior learning experience background. Advantage: Allows student to gain possible credit for experiences not covered by all other methods; a very personal approach; allows student to provide added information when needed; help and guidance provided throughout the process. Disadvantage: May be too subjective for student, no clear-cut test approach, and a judgment procedure based on guidelines. A long process, students may feel it s easier to take courses. Burden of proof rests with the student. The student must prove prior learning experience equals college level learning. Requires college fee for each course review.

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