General Education

How to Get College Credit for Your Life Experience

How to Get College Credit for Your Life Experience
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KeriLynn Engel profile
KeriLynn Engel August 7, 2014

Rack up your college credits by earning points for your professional experience, volunteering, and adventures through life.

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Earning college credit for your life experience has become more and more common in the past few decades, especially now that the average age of college students is rising.

Many colleges will grant credit for the education you received from your life experiences like job training, military experience, and more. Here are just a few of the life experiences you should speak to your advisor about earning credit for.

Get College Credit For Work Experience

If you’re going to college to earn a degree in a field you’ve already been working in for several years, you may be able to get college credit for your work experience.

Start by reviewing the course requirements for your degree to find topics you’ve already learned about on the job. Then talk to your advisor about how you can demonstrate your relevant knowledge and experience for college credit.

Get College Credit For Job Training

The American Council on Education (ACE) is an organization that evaluates courses offered by businesses and other organizations and recommends their equivalent college credit. You can look up ACE’s list of evaluated courses and exams online, which includes topics as diverse as the Independent Electrical Contractors Apprenticeship program to the Starbucks Barista Basics course.

Get College Credit For Volunteering

If you have several years of experience volunteering, you may be able to apply for equivalent college credit in the same way you would for work experience, by taking exams or preparing a portfolio. Some colleges also offer a course where students volunteer at approved organizations for college credit.

Get College Credit For FEMA Courses

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) branch of the U.S. government offers an Independent Study Program to train the general public in emergency management response. Some of their courses are eligible for college credit. If you’ve completed any of their courses in the past, you can apply to get college credit for your FEMA courses here.

Get College Credit For Military Experience

Veterans and active members of the armed forces can request a transcript for military service which documents your military training, allowing you to easily request college credit for everything including basic training. It is up to the individual college’s discretion whether or not to follow ACE’s recommendations and grant you credit, so be prepared to argue the relevance of your experience.

Get College Credit For Life Experience

Looking through your degree requirements, you may come across courses where you’ve already learned the material from other notable accomplishments in your life, such as writing a book or starting a non-profit.

Talk to your college advisor about how you can earn college credit for what you learned from your experience.

As author Mary MacCracken said, “Almost anything can become a learning experience if there is enough caring involved." We all learn valuable information and skills from our life experiences, and that education can translate to college credits with the help of your advisor.

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