Earning College Credit for Life Experience

prior learning credit for adult studentsThere are countless reasons for wanting to earn a college degree later in life. Some seek a higher salary or better position with their current employer, some wish to embark on a new career, and others just want the satisfaction that comes from achieving a lifelong goal. Whatever the motivation, more and more adults are entering the world of higher education and emerging with a coveted degree.

But what about the student who has spent his career performing bookkeeping duties, but is still required to take simple accounting courses to complete his degree? Or the military veteran who gave years of her life in service to her country, but must now take basic physical education courses as part of her college’s core curriculum? It just doesn’t add up.

That’s why many adult students are turning to prior learning assessment (PLA) to help them earn college credit and complete degrees that take their life experience into account.

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7 Things Military Students Should Look For in an Online School

military students and online learningAs we reported recently on CollegeSurfing.com, when some schools see military personnel, they see dollar signs. After all, what school wouldn’t want a piece of the more than $4 billion that colleges have already collected under the new GI Bill?

Not all schools are preying on service members, though. Many colleges and universities hold military students in high regard, tailoring online programs to their unique needs.

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Online Students Learn from Anywhere (Really!)

Being an online student carries over to war zones, locker rooms, gyms, vacation destinations, and other places around the world. It’s one of the reasons why more and more adult learners are participating in online learning, which now represents 31 percent of total higher education enrollment.

Sometimes the key is finding an Internet connection away from home. Some students fit in learning with family time, even when out of town. Some are able to juggle work assignments across the globe while learning.

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A Good Word from Colin Powell for the For-Profits

As an adviser to Leeds Equity Partners, an investment firm whose holdings include stakes in several for-profit colleges, it seems that Gen. Colin Powell has pitched his tent in the career education sector. In an industry that has taken more than its share of knocks, who wouldn’t feel good about the former secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff standing in their corner?

Last week, Powell delivered the keynote address at the annual convention of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities in Texas, offering words of encouragement to career school leaders.

It was more than a handful of niceties, though. Powell believes in the mission of the for-profits, but he puts the burden of proof squarely on their shoulders. He encourages career schools to stay on the straight and narrow, saying they should “self-police” and operate with the best ethical standards. In an industry that has been plagued with aggressive recruiting tactics and high loan default rates, the for-profits do have a lot to prove.

While Powell acknowledges the bad press, he urges for-profit schools to stand up for themselves. “Don’t dismiss the criticism that you’re receiving,” he said. “Fight back and make the case for what you’re doing.”

Proactivity has to be the name of the game for the for-profits, especially when it comes to Capitol Hill. With the pending “gainful-employment” rule, which threatens to cut the federal financial aid of for-profit schools that graduate students with a high loan debt and low repayment rates, career schools simply can’t afford to face another restriction on funding.

“Don’t wait for a new regulation to come down the road,” said Powell. “Make the positive case.”

And with some veterans groups and members of the Senate questioning the way for-profit schools are recruiting and enrolling members of the military, veterans, and their families – and receiving large amounts of federal student aid money in return – there’s no time to lose in the fight.

When it comes to making a case for the value of their institutions, Powell said for-profit schools need to “do a better job,” and make the case that their purpose “is not only shareholder value.”

Whether or not it strikes you as fair that the for-profits bear such a heavy burden of proof when it comes to the value of the education they provide, it is their reality. Powell doesn’t excuse the rotten recruiting tactics we’ve heard so much about, but he seems determined that the industry not let a few bad apples ruin the bunch.

–Robyn Tellefsen

Schools’ Commercials Focus on Your Purpose, Sacrifices

As the options grow for online learning and career schools, the schools are doing more to try to make theirs stand out among students like you. Career schools and online universities have invested lots in the ads, which aren’t shoddy commercials like you would find on your local cable access channel. Look at enough of them, and there are some common themes in the commercials, shown on TV and online.

The stars are not the facilities, but adults who are at various stages of their life – some at home with kids, others in what appear to be unhappy job situations, others who have this overall wistful look in their eyes that there’s got to be something better for them out there. At times, some ads can be too schmaltzy, and as a result, people have even created parodies of school commercials on Facebook and YouTube.

Here’s a look at five real ads. Which ones do you think make the grade?

University of Phoenix

By the end of this minute-long ad, where the names of students are repeated over and over, you can’t help but think to yourself, “Everybody’s doing it. I want to be a Phoenix, too!” The ad plays up the camaraderie of college (even if you never see fellow students face to face) by using comments from adults in majors ranging from communications to business to psychology to share their testimonials. Everything is great at Phoenix, these professionally-dressed students say, from the teachers available around the clock and the current curriculum to the way the education prepares students for a real-world experience. It just leaves us with one question – we don’t have to wear suits and ties when taking the classes, do we?

Grand Canyon University

If you’re waiting for a shot of the breathtaking Grand Canyon, you’re going to be disappointed in this commercial. Instead, it shows students on a bus, walking with kids, in the military, and even washing a car staring into their reflection and seeing happy new futures. I saw my reflection on my computer screen early this morning and flinched because my morning look can be so scary, especially after just four hours of sleep. That’s a horror movie. For this school, with classes online or on campus, it’s more of an inspiration that students can find their purpose.

DeVry University’s Keller School of Management

DeVry makes it clear – their students are up late and early. You’ll be studying on a bus, at the kitchen counter, on your couch. The male voiceover is filled with awe and inspiration for the “5 a.m. scholar,” the “work-to-school warrior,” and the “middle-of-the-night study group.” A few things I wanted more of from this commercial: I would loved to see the baby try to eat the pink marker (my baby would have tried to grab that marker away from me immediately) and where did the woman at the end of the commercial get that cute polka-dotted scarf?

Argosy University

This commercial is the most snooze-worthy of the ads here, and that’s coming from someone who enjoys playing the piano. It’s focused on a 42-year-old mom of twins playing piano (by herself, for starters) in a house that’s eerily all too clean to have kids living there. Turns out she’s considering a doctoral degree in psychology, but the scene makes me wonder: Why isn’t she at work and just how does she have time to play the piano? Maybe it’s just my own issue: My desk chair is right behind a piano and I haven’t had time to tickle the ivory in weeks.

Capella University

This action-filled ad keeps you guessing the whole time. Where is the driver heading? Who’s in the wreck? Is this a trailer for the next “Fast and Furious”? Nope, it’s … well, I don’t want to spoil anything.

Which commercial would you give an A+ (or an F)? Tell us below.