Why It’s Easier Than Ever to Get an Online Life Experience Degree
Many accredited online schools today have some method of awarding credit to students for life experience. Why? Because the majority of online college students are “non-traditional”, older students. The average bachelor’s degree student is about 36 years old while the average master’s degree student is around 40 years old.
If there’s one thing that older students are not lacking, it is life experience. They have worked perhaps a wide variety of jobs, been married, had children, run organizations, volunteered, made costumes for their kids’ school plays, and maybe traveled! They may have done a lot of reading, taking training classes through work or “summer” programs, developed interesting hobbies, and perhaps even sold the products of those hobbies. They may have professional licenses and certifications, and on the job training. All of these things can translate into online life experience degree credit.
There are many ways that schools are turning these experiences into online life experience degree credits, and even some well-established, mainstream colleges such as the University of Wisconsin are getting in on it. These schools are using methods to evaluate prior learning in order to give students credit for their life experience. This allows students to make use of their experience to reduce their costs and their time in school, both important considerations, especially when a student is possibly looking at a career change in their 30s or 40s.
Two other schools that offer online life experience degres are Western Governors University and Capella University. Both schools have programs that allow students to move quickly through subject matter that they already have a good handle on while taking more time with subjects they are less familiar with. There are even schools where entire degrees can be completed without ever taking a class.
A big part of earning an online life experience degree is challenge exams. Challenge exams have been in use for a long time, well before the onset of online learning. They are intended to test what students know as a result of prior learning or experience. The topics they test range from foreign languages to math. The tests are not free, but the fee is small compared to the price of taking a full course. Generally, they are taken at a testing site. They are multiple choice, have about 100 questions, and take about an hour.
One such test is the College Level Exam Program (CLEP). CLEP is a widely accepted challenge exam, accepted by over 2,900 accredited online and residential schools. CLEP has 33 single-subject college exams and five general exams. The single-subject exams each cover a single undergraduate course, such as Spanish 101 or College Algebra. The general exams each cover a broad area of freshman-level knowledge; English Composition, humanities, college mathematics, natural sciences, and social sciences. If all 5 exams are passed, the student would receive up to 30 credits – a full year of college! Each test costs approximately $80, which is a small percentage of the cost of tuition for a course.