In May, University of Phoenix reached an impressive milestone—it awarded more Prior Learning Assessment credits in three months (March, April and May 2020) than previous years. The achievement comes at a time when adult learners are looking to upskill and enter the workforce quicker.
Prior Learning Assessment, or PLA, is an alternative method for students to earn college credits by demonstrating learning that occurred through on-the-job trainings, industry certifications, and life experiences. Essentially, it is a demonstration that learning from work and life experience have helped adult learners progress to where they are in life, something the University believes is equivalent to what is learned in the classroom. All while helping save students both time and money on their degree.
The milestone occurred between March through May, when the University awarded 6,047 PLA credits through a streamlined process. Students using the PLA process typically receive about 10 credits, which is the equivalent of taking a little more than three courses at UOPX and a savings of thousands of dollars in tuition.
Historically, students look to PLA toward the end of their academic progression rather than as they begin their program. Devin Andrews, vice president for the Office of Admissions and Evaluation, said the rewards could be even greater if the process is started at the beginning.
“We are trying to get students to think about PLA earlier in their degree program, as opposed to just filling in holes at the end of their program,” Andrews said. “If students do it earlier in the program, they have more places to put that credit.”
According to Andrews, the ultimate goal of the PLA process is to help students be more successful in their studies and accomplish their educational goals. To that end, the University recently made some changes to ensure students understood the PLA process and the benefits that can flow from it. Students are offered three options in the PLA process—submitting past training for credit, writing about their experience or taking subject-specific exams.
UOPX lowered the cost to apply for PLA to $99 to transfer any applicable credits, waived the fee altogether for the first three months of the COVID-19 crisis, and is working to identifying students who could benefit from PLA.
The University is also launching a new online tool to help students determine whether they should apply for PLA credits. The new credit predictor tool will help students identify whether their previous experience is eligible to be turned into college credit through the PLA process. The tool will show how many credits they could receive and how much time and money the PLA process could save them.