College Credit Without College

By Paul Fain

The Internet takes college courses out of the classroom. But prior learning assessment takes college outside of college.

The practice of granting college credit for learning and knowledge gained outside the traditional academic setting goes back decades, with roots in the G.I. Bill and World War II veterans who earned credits for military training.

But prior learning assessment mostly occurs behind the scenes, partially because colleges avoid loudly advertising that they believe college-level learning can occur before a student ever interacts with faculty members.

That low profile is ending, however, as prior learning is poised to break into the mainstream in a big way. The national college completion push and the expanding adult student market are driving the growth. And ramping up to meet this demand are two of the field’s early adopters — the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning and the American Council of Education — which may soon be even bigger players in determining what counts for college credit.


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