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How to Accelerate Your Degree Plan
(Continued from 2)

The NCCRS (National College Credit Recommendation Service), formerly National PONSI, evaluates outside education and training programs for college credit equivalency. Programs reviewed by NCCRS are offered by corporations, unions, and other organizations. Over 1,500 colleges and universities consider awarding credit based on NCCRS recommendations.

Credit for Life Experience (Portfolio Credit)
Students who have gained competency in an area through life experience may be able to earn college credit through a life experience portfolio. But preparing life experience portfolios can be time consuming and are not a quick route to college credit. Reports must be submitted for each course the student seeks credit for, including supporting documentation for learned proficiencies. Some colleges offer courses that provide the student with direction for developing a portfolio, while others may have advisors available. An individual portfolio may include:

  1. Credit for Corporate Training. Documentation would include certificates of completion for employment training or seminars and workshops.
  2. Professional Licenses and Certification. Licensure for profession or field of employment. Examples include insurance and real estate licenses.
  3. Coursework Transcripts. Credit may be awarded for coursework completed from business or technical schools, and some unaccredited institutions.
  4. Credit for Experiential Learning. This classification comprises non-classroom learning: i.e., personal and professional life experience. Examples include business experience or volunteer work.
  5. Competency Credit. Credit is awarded for out of the classroom learning demonstrated through the creation of a tangible product: i.e., book publication or computer software development.

Material that may be included in a portfolio are documents that demonstrate skills or knowledgeability: i.e., awards received, multimedia presentations, published newspaper or magazine articles, resumes, and references.

There are hundreds of accredited colleges and universities that grant credit for life experience. However, not all schools offer portfolio assessment. Each school's policy is different - from not accepting portfolio credit to limiting the amount of credits accepted. The national average for credit awarded through portfolio assessment is 21 credits - and this is usually undergraduate division credit.

Course Challenging
Many universities have their own institutional testing procedures, or "departmental exams" - ways to challenge a course. Students can obtain a list of classes open to challenge from the admissions or testing center of the college they are attending or plan to attend. If they take the test and pass, they will earn credit without having to take the class. Be aware, however, that these are not standardized tests and are based on lecture content and textbooks used for a specific course. That is why it is important to talk to the instructor before taking a challenge exam and to study the course syllabus and other materials.

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