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Life Experience Matters: Receive College Credit When Pursuing Your Bachelor’s Degree

Education comes in many forms and doesn’t always occur in a classroom. That argument you had with your boss, the experience of managing a team, the craft business you run on the side and the kids whose schedules you oversee have helped you learn and grow. 

Even if it’s been years since you sat in a classroom, your life experiences mean you’re not starting at zero when you enroll in college. You bring wisdom to the classroom and the campus. You also have a busy life. SNU honors both with a prior learning assessment that ensures you get credit for the work you’ve already done and the things you already know. 

Get up to a year of college credit for life experience with our prior learning assessment process. Here’s what you need to know about the process:

What Is Prior Learning?

Whether you attended college before or are considering it for the first time, the odds are high that between high school and the present day, you’ve learned a lot — whether at work, at home with children and family, through volunteer work or some combination of the three. 

Prior learning is everything you’ve mastered before enrolling in college. It’s the wisdom and experience you bring with you to campus. It’s valuable, making you a sharper, more thoughtful student and contributing to the diversity of thought and experiences on campus. 

Yet many students don’t get credit for their prior learning. Their schools treat all students as if they know very little from day one. This can be alienating and frustrating. It can also potentially increase the time it takes to graduate.

At SNU, we understand that you have an entire life outside school. We also know that for many incoming students, a degree is proof of the knowledge they already have — whether they’ve spent years commanding soldiers and now seek a management degree or have shone as family leaders and want to lead organizations. We want to acknowledge the work you’ve already done so you can graduate more quickly. That’s what our prior learning assessment does. 

Some avenues through which you may have gained prior learning include: 

  • Life experiences, such as caring for children or an aging relative
  • Military service
  • At a job or career, such as managing a team 
  • Volunteer experience, especially over the long term
  • Previous college work or classwork from an unaccredited school 
  • Travel, reading and self-education 

College Credit for Life Experience: How It Works 

At SNU, students get credit for eligible transfer work and Advanced Placement (AP) exams. Prior learning credit is an additional layer on top of these options. 

To gain credit for prior learning, SNU students must take an assessment demonstrating their knowledge. The specific assessment depends on your prior learning, and you might need to take multiple. But a passing score can earn you significant college credit — up to 30 hours, or a full year, of coursework. 

Prior learning credit is included in the cost of your degree program, meaning you won't have to pay to add this learning to your transcript. Some schools charge students per hour added, even if the student didn’t take coursework at the school. Prior learning applies to undergraduate degrees only, although graduate students may still get credit for prior coursework. 

Benefits of Credit for Prior Learning 

Here are some of the benefits of getting credit for prior learning:

  • You will graduate faster. This means less time spent in school (and away from your job or family) and a faster track to the rest of your life. 
  • You won’t have to sit in classes on topics you’ve already mastered, reducing boredom and frustration. 
  • You don’t have to pay extra money to prove you learned information you already know. 
  • You will gain a sense of validation through the acknowledgment that your life experiences have taught you valuable, marketable skills. 
  • You will spend less money. With fewer classes to take and faster graduation, you will have fewer overall expenses, including less student debt. You may also make more money at a new job once you graduate, multiplying the financial benefits. 
  • You may knock out some prerequisite classes, allowing you to take more interesting classes faster. 

Other Ways to Get College Credit 

Colleges that give credit for life experience don’t typically limit credit only to life experience. You can often get credit for other work too. Students at SNU can shorten their path to graduation with the following options: 

Transfer Credits

If you have prior college credit from a regionally accredited college or university and you need a comparable class at SNU, your prior credits will likely come with you to SNU. Because SNU has earned regional accreditation, the coursework you complete here will go with you if you ever transfer. 

Accelerated Learning

If your degree requires general education coursework as a prerequisite, you don’t have to spend months completing your classes. SNU’s accelerated learning program can help you finish your classes quickly and affordably. 

Advanced Placement Credit

If you have completed AP classes and taken an AP exam, you may be able to get credit for some general education requirements.

Tips for Choosing the Right School for Adult Learners 

College credit can save you time and money, but colleges that cater to adult learners offer other fast-track options too. At SNU, here are some of the ways we help you graduate faster: 

  • Easy, rapid enrollment: Rolling applications and acceptance mean you can start school sooner. 
  • One-course-at-a-time model: Take just one course at a time so you can learn without distractions. 
  • Short courses: You complete most courses in just six weeks. 
  • Rapid graduation: We structure each degree program to make it easier to graduate early — often in 18 months or less. 
  • Supportive community: We build support into each program, supporting soldiers, offering ongoing guidance from our chaplain and using an innovative cohort model to build your professional network.
  • Financial aid: We offer comprehensive financial aid support, including for students with complex issues such as a history of student aid default. 
  • Easy applications: Applying to college doesn’t have to require lots of paperwork or include entrance exams. You can complete your SNU application in just a few minutes. 

What does your ideal learning environment look like? SNU supports both online and in-person learning. To learn more about which option might be right for you, check out our infographic, “Choose Your Path: Online vs. On-Campus Education.”

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Request More Information

Have questions about SNU or need help determining which program is the right fit? Fill out the form and an enrollment counselor will follow-up to answer your questions!

Text With an Enrollment Counselor

Have questions, but want a faster response?  Fill out the form and one of our enrollment counselors will follow-up via text shortly!