Local Learning: college credit for what you already know

By: Marsha Danielson
December 1, 2017

Jennifer Epper had served as a Franchise Marketing Manager for Buffalo Wild Wings for nine years when she decided it was time to go to college to pursue a two-year associate degree.  Little did she know, it would be easier than she ever imagined. Granted, going to college as a single mother with a full time job is not exactly effortless, but Jennifer was able to significantly reduce her required course load thanks to Credit for Prior Learning.

Credit for Prior Learning, or CPL, enables individuals to receive credit for college-level knowledge gained outside the traditional academic environment.  In Epper’s case, South Central College gave her credit for what she learned from her extensive work experience in marketing. At SCC, individuals also may earn prior credits for knowledge they have acquired through employer training programs, volunteer or community service, open source courses and self-study or military education and occupations. Students applying for CPL demonstrate their knowledge of the subject matter by completing an assessment conducted by faculty.

Marsha Danielson

By eliminating the need to take duplicative courses for knowledge they already have, CPL participants are able to spend less on their education, accelerate completion time and increase their chances of graduating.

“With the Credit for Prior Learning program, I was able to complete my [associate’s] degree in marketing management [much] earlier than anticipated, and that saved me money on tuition,” Epper explains.

Another South Central College student also reaped the benefits of CPL is military veteran Jordan Schoener, who was working at Dotson Iron Castings when he learned about the program at SCC. He graduated this past spring with an associate of applied science degree in computer integrated machining.

“Getting college credit for what I learned in industry and in the military enabled me to take fewer classes each semester, work a full-time job and still get my degree on time,” Schoener says.

While the CPL program is not new to SCC, the process was recently streamlined for participants. One of the steps the college’s faculty members are taking to further enhance this experience for students is the development of a menu of courses for which students can earn CPL, with ready-to-go assessments designed for easy implementation. South Central College has also hired a dedicated CPL and transfer coordinator to provide personalized service to students wishing to pursue credit for their previous knowledge.  These enhancements will enable many more students to take advantage of CPL.

For more information on CPL at South Central College, visit www.southcentral.edu/cpl or call 507-389-7394.

Marsha Danielson is the Vice President of Economic Development for South Central College. In her 11 years at SCC, she has directed workforce education and overseen industry and educational partnerships.

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