What is PLA and Why is it Important?

Prior learning assessment (PLA), and the subsequent awarding of college credits, is an important means for reducing time to completion. PLA is a strategy leveraged to achieve the Design Opportunities goal of Waubonsee’s Transformational Plan by anticipating needs and removing barriers to learning with a focus on personalization and experiential learning.

PLA credits can be given for any college-level learning that a student has mastered outside of a traditional classroom setting. This includes:

PLA also includes the consideration of a student’s high school Advanced Placement (AP) and dual credit coursework.

The awarding of PLA credits can positively affect student efficacy and potentially saves the student money, along with reducing time to completion.

Facts From The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL)

  • In a study of more than 62,000 students at 48 institutions, CAEL found that adult students with credit earned through PLA are 2 ½ times more likely to complete a degree compared to adult students without such credit. This finding is true for students in all demographic groups. (October 2014 policy brief)
  • In a CAEL 2010 study, PLA students earning bachelor’s degrees saved an average of between 2.5 to 10 months of time and were 2 ½ times more likely to graduate than students without PLA. PLA earners with associate degrees saved an average of between 1.5 and 4.5 months of time in earning their degrees.
  • The 2010 study showed that students who did PLA took 9.9 more course credits (not including their PLA credits) than students who did not do PLA.

Regulations

For students who have acquired knowledge through prior learning that may be equivalent to college-level learning, Waubonsee offers the opportunity to earn credit for that learning. 

Information and Regulations

  1. Scores of 3 or higher on any of the College Board Advanced Placement (AP) examinations will be accepted for college credit to satisfy degree requirements. For specific application of credit, see chart "AP Exams and Course Equivalents” in the Academic Information and Regulations section of the College Catalog.
  2. Scores of 4 or higher for International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme subjects will be accepted for college credit to satisfy degree requirements.
  3. Credit by proficiency (noted as an E with 0 Grade Point Level) is awarded and recorded on transcript.
  4. A maximum of 45 semester hours earned by PLA can be applied to a degree; up to 50 percent of the hours required for a Certificate of Achievement.
  5. Credits earned through PLA do not count toward the College’s academic residency requirements.
  6. Credit will not be granted if a student is currently enrolled in or has previously earned credit for an equivalent course.
  7. Students should be aware that Credit by Proficiency may not transfer to other colleges and universities.
  8. Credit will be recorded after the refund period of the student’s first semester of enrollment.
  9. A transaction fee of $10 may be assessed.

Options

Credit for Military Training and Courses

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Veterans and active duty military may be granted credit for military service training based on recommendations by the American Council of Education (ACE) or through the approval by the division dean of the student’s chosen curriculum. Not all military training will be granted college credit.

Credit for Industry Certifications

View our Industry Certification to College Credit Crosswalk (pdf) to see what courses you may get credit for. Certifications from organizations like the American Health Information Management Association, AUTODESK, Automotive Service Excellence, Microsoft, OSHA, The National Institute for Metalworking and more may qualify.