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School for Adult Learning Undergraduate Programs

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Prior Learning Assessment Portfolio

What is a Prior Learning Assessment Portfolio?

A Prior Learning Assessment Portfolio is a formal written communication presented by you to the University requesting credit for extra-collegiate, college level learning. A portfolio consists of multiple components. Each component plays a role in demonstrating mastery of learning objectives. Each portfolio must make its case by identifying learning clearly and succinctly, with supporting documentation and other evidence that demonstrates you have sufficiently mastered the credit being requested. The use of portfolios in degree completion has been around for more than 40 years!

What are the benefits?

Regardless of whether you have transfer credits, the use of prior learning assessment has been statistically documented to give you an advantage in several very important ways:

  • You may save, on average, between 2.5 months to one year in completion time.
  • You are four times more likely to graduate than those who do not use PLA.
  • You will have earned a higher grade point average upon completion of your program, which will be listed on your transcript for employers to review and be impressed by.
  • The potential cost of your program could be reduced significantly.

How do I get started?

  1. Meet with the PLA Coordinator of the School for Adult Learning. During this meeting, you will discuss what areas of potential learning you have and if it can be translated into a portfolio for academic credit.
  2. Once approved, the PLA Coordinator will register you in the PLA course. This course provides a structured series of activities designed to provide you with a systematic approach to identifying learning obtained outside a traditional classroom. You will learn to differentiate between experience, experiential learning and learning by experience. You will analyze your personal knowledge, skills and abilities and leverage them to develop and achieve educational goals as you learn about learning styles and theories. 
  3. Portfolios are evaluated by faculty who are content experts and trained in assessment.
  4. If approved, the credits for the first portfolio will be added to your transcript at no additional charge.
  5. For any subsequent portfolio submitted, there will be a flat fee of $350. 
  6. You must take the PLA course before you can submit a portfolio.
  7. You can earn up to 30 credit hours in portfolios!

When do I start?

The Prior Learning Portfolio course is offered once every term. After completion of the course, you may begin working independently on any subsequent portfolios up to your 30-hour maximum. The only caveat is that you must have completed, submitted and received approval for all portfolios before you begin your last term of enrollment.

More Information

To learn more about this process, contact Kathy Hancher, MTS, master certified PLA coordinator for SAL at 317-788-3393.