SCC boosting opportunity to earn credit for work experience

12 Dec 2017

South Central Energy

When Jennifer Epper decided to go back to college part time while also working in restaurant marketing, she expected it would take her three years to earn an associate's degree.

Thanks to credits for prior experience, the St. Peter mother of three will receive her marketing management degree from South Central College next month — one year earlier than she planned.

South Central College leaders are now striving to help more nontraditional students earn credits for prior work and life experience.

“We're streamlining the process. We've made it really a lot simpler,” said Marsha Danielson, SCC vice president of economic development.

They're called “credit for prior learning” and they've been an option for SCC students for many years. Students can bypass some classes required for their degree if they demonstrate they've already mastered the class concepts through work, volunteer, military or other experience. 

But only 20 to 30 such credits typically have been awarded at SCC each of the last several years, Danielson said.

That's perhaps in part because many students don't realize it's an option. It's also in part because earning experience credits often required “persistence” by the student applicant, Danielson said.

Students previously needed to reach out to an instructor of the course they believed their experience qualified them to bypass and the instructor would then develop some form of assessment for them.

SCC won a $25,000 innovation grant from the Minnesota State system last spring to help fast-track that process. The funds are being used to pay faculty to proactively develop means for students to prove their skills.

By next month 30 courses will have ready-to-go assessments and those courses will be listed on the college website.

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