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College Credit For Life Experience

Fall LeavesAs a working adult who is returning to college, you bring with you prior learning from a variety of sources: on the job, non-credit workshops, travel, personal interests, family, life experience, and volunteer responsibilities. Linfield College believes that adults should be able to receive college credit for life experience acquired outside of the traditional college setting. There are three ways to do this.

1. Linfield's Prior Learning Degree Portfolio

One way to earn college credit for life experience involves taking a special Linfield course designed to teach you to prepare a portfolio which carefully analyzes and documents your prior learning. Students in the Linfield Adult Degree Program may earn as many as 31 of the required 125 semester credits through the portfolio process, enabling students to apply prior learning toward their degree. Credits earned via the portfolio process do not count toward the required 30 credits of Linfield coursework.

Portfolio Development

To earn credit for prior learning (portfolio), you follow three steps:

Step 1:

Meet with an advisor to determine eligibility for earning prior learning degree credit through the portfolio process. Advisors help you assess how prior learning may be integrated with your educational plan. Because the portfolio process requires a great deal of independent writing, you must first complete the Inquiry Seminar. Call 800-452-4176 if you have any questions.

Step 2:

Send in your degree application and submit official transcripts in order to have an evaluation of transfer credit.

Step 3:

Enroll in IDS 250 Writing the Portfolio, a three semester credit course in which you first clarify educational and career plans and write a learning autobiography and educational plan. The learning autobiography and educational plan become the first sections of the portfolio. You are given specific instruction on how to describe, analyze, and document prior learning experiences.

College credit for life experience is earned by demonstrating that prior learning is equivalent to specific college courses. For example, a small business owner may have acquired both the practical and theoretical knowledge equivalent to BUS 423 Entrepreneurship and BUS 321 Marketing. Read two blog articles related to Linfield's prior learning degree portfolio program:

  • interviews with Linfield students who successfully earned college credit for life experience through this prior learning assessment
  • interview with Ann Sukalac, Linfield  College Division of Continuing Education’s instructor of the online course where adults “challenge” courses in their degree program, called Writing the Portfolio.

Portfolio Evaluation

Image of a graduating woman carrying her daughterThree copies of the completed portfolio are submitted to Linfield for evaluation by a team of faculty members with expertise appropriate in the areas of prior learning credit requested. Students pay the submittal fee at this time. Within six weeks you'll receive a letter from the evaluation team which outlines the strengths and weaknesses of the portfolio and lists the awarded credits which are added to the your official transcript upon payment of the evaluation fee.

2014-2015 Portfolio Costs

The following is a fee schedule for credits earned through prior learning (the portfolio process):

Submittal Fee:
Payable when the portfolio is submitted, cost is based on the total number of credits requested.

Evaluation Fee:
Payable when credits are awarded, based on the number of credits awarded by the evaluator.

  Submittal Fee Evaluation Fee
3-5 credits $75 $40 per credit
0-15 credits $325 $40 per credit
16-24 credits $425 $40 per credit
25-31 credits $525 $40 per credit

2. American Council on Education (ACE)

You may also earn college credit for life experience in the form of specific training offered through the three branches of the military and from business and industry, if such training has been reviewed by the American Council on Education (ACE) and received a credit recommendation. Examples of organizations offering ACE-approved courses for college credit include: AT&T, Insurance Institute of America, and US West. Linfield College generally accepts the ACE recommendations for both lower and upper division credit that is consistent with a liberal arts undergraduate education. However, acceptance is not automatic, and all ACE transcripts are reviewed by the faculty. The fee for evaluating ACE credits is $40 per credit up to a maximum of $200.

3. Credit by Exam

CLEP

The College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) is a national program of credit by examination. Linfield College allows up to 30 hours of non-course credit to students with acceptable scores on CLEP examinations. CLEP offers two types of tests: general and by specific subjects. General examinations may be taken in humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences/history, while subject examinations are offered in specific subject areas, such as biology, microcomputers, or American history. Both types of examination emphasize concepts, principles, relationships, and applications. Linfield advisors have additional information on testing dates and locations. CLEP exams must be taken prior to or during a student's first year in the ADP program and require pre approval.

Challenge Exam

Image of a graduating woman and her familyIn certain cases, you may be allowed to challenge a Linfield course by examination. The exam is prepared, administered and graded by the Linfield residential faculty member who normally teaches the course. No credit is given for work of less than "B" quality. You must pay a fee prior to taking the exam.

For additional information

Please contact a Linfield advisor or the Adult Degree Program at (800) 452-4176 or (503) 883-2447.