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Prior Learning Assessment

Prior Learning Assessment

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) describes learning gained outside a traditional academic setting. It is knowledge that students acquire while living their lives. PLA is the evaluation and assessment of an individual’s life learning. Many students have acquired college-level knowledge and skills through their day-to-day lives outside of the classroom. Here are some examples:

  • Did you study a foreign language in high school?
  • Did you serve in the military or are you currently active duty?
  • Do you volunteer or perform any kind of community service?
  • Have you participated in professional development in the workplace?
  • Do you have a specialized skill or training?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions; you may be a candidate for Prior Learning Assessment.

In addition to evaluating transfer credits, the Accelerated Adult Degree Program at Chestnut Hill College encourages returning students to consider the PLA Program as a way to accelerate degree completion. At Chestnut Hill College, students have several options to earn credit for prior learning that include:

  • The College Level Examination Program (CLEP)-A national exam program that offers 34 exams that cover introductory level college course material. Students with a passing score, earn 3 college credits for each exam https://clep.collegeboard.org/
  • Military Training and Service-Formal evaluation of military experience
  • Workplace Training-Formal evaluation of participation in workplace training
  • Challenge Exams-Students are assigned an instructor, who prepares a comprehensive in-house exam for the student to prove competency in a specialized area
  • Internships-Students earn credit for structured workplace experiences. These activities are highlighted in a Learning Agreement signed by the Site Supervisor, Faculty Supervisor and the Student
  • Portfolio Assessment-Students work with a faculty member to document the college-level learning that has been gained through workplace training including professional certifications

Students in the Accelerated Adult Degree Program at Chestnut Hill College can earn up to 30 credits through Prior Learning Assessment.

The benefits of PLA for students include:

  • can save time and shorten the time to degree completion
  • can save money by reducing tuition costs
  • can enhance their resume as prior learning adds value to existing skill sets
  • can gain understanding about the many different ways that we learn and how to apply that learning throughout life

“Research indicates that Prior Learning Assessment boosts degree completion rates for adult students as well as improves student retention, but unfortunately, not many students take advantage of this opportunity.” -- Elaine R. Green, Ed.D., Dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies


Get your degree faster – and save money – with Prior Learning Assessment!

For more information and to take advantage of this program, contact Elaine Green, Ed.D., Dean of the School of Conintuing and Professional Studies at green@chc.edu.

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