Earn College Credits for Life and Work Experiences

credit for experienceIf you are considering pursuing your college degree online, there may be ways you can earn college credits that you have not heard of before. According to the National Center For Education Statistics, around 4.3 million undergrads took a minimum of one online college course between 2007 and 2008. [i] This statistic reveals a large number of students who have tried distance learning.

If you happen to be a nontraditional e-student who is interested in earning college credit for life and/or work experiences, here are some tips for using what you have gleaned from your life and transforming them into actual college credits.

Academic Portfolio

Maybe standardized tests aren’t one of your strong suits and you prefer writing essays or papers. If so, you should look into creating a written academic portfolio. While not all online colleges may accept portfolios, some do. Other schools might require that you enroll in a class which will teach you to organize a portfolio. Some examples of materials that may wind up in your college portfolio are videos you’ve made, reports you’ve put together, certificates of completion, artwork, or articles you’ve written.

Professional credentials

Are you a licensed real estate agent or a certified public accountant? You may qualify for college credits related to your certification area of specialty. The American Council on Education or ACE reviews professional certifications and licenses and often makes credit awards based on work experience. For more information, check out the National Guide to College Credit for Workforce Training.


This ACE program involves corporations who utilize time and money to train their employees and permits college assessors to review the corporations’ training courses to see if they qualify as college-level. If the classes do meet the assessors’ requirements, the CREDIT assessors may recommend that college credits be granted upon finishing certain courses. While not all colleges accept ACE recommendations, it could be a great program to look into and see if your school will honor transfer credits such as these.


For a fee, typically around $80 per exam, you may register to take a computer-based subject test. There are a total of 33 single-subject tests and five general exams which are basically multiple choice. Most of the CLEP exams cover materials that would be learned within your first two years of college, such as material within a freshman-level English composition or math class. You may register for the exams online and choose your testing location at clep.collegeboard.org.

These are just some suggestions for seeing if your work and/or life experiences translate into college credits. If you are in doubt or need of more information, talk to a career or college counselor and visit the websites mentioned above. You could have enough experience to count towards college credits, and, if money is tight, these options may help you save money while earning your degree.


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