College Credit

The college degrees people earn—and the credit they receive toward those degrees—matter. Not only can they mean the difference between landing jobs or not, but they also can mean the difference between success or stagnation for our nation and its economy.

We must face some hard facts* about college education in our country:

  • By 2018, 63% of jobs in the U.S. will require at least some college
  • Only 42% of adults aged 25-34 have attained a postsecondary degree
  • Our global leadership position in the number of adults 25-34 with college degrees slipped from 4th place in 1997 to 11th place in 2009
  • To catch up with leading nations, the U.S. needs to increase the rate of degree production by 50.8%
The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) is responding to these pressing needs by:

Helping Adults Earn College Credit for What They Already Know

When people receive college credit for what they know from life and work experience, they earn their degrees and credentials faster, saving money on tuition. They also learn the value of their experience, which gives them confidence to complete their degrees.

To help adult students receive the college credit they deserve, and to help colleges and universities award credit for prior learning, CAEL offers these services:
If you have significant college-level learning from job training, work experience, military experience, or other experiences, is the place to earn college credit for what you already know. Why take—and pay for—classes in subjects you have already mastered?

Faculty and Administrator Professional Development
To understand how to evaluate and award credit for the prior learning of your students, start by joining a CAEL webinar, attending a 1 ½ day workshop, or becoming certified online in Prior Learning Assessment (PLA).

Customized Consulting for Colleges and Universities
If you want to assess learning on your campus, CAEL’s on-site workshops and consulting services help you understand how offering credit for prior learning will help you meet your retention and graduation goals.

Assisting Adult Students to Stay in School and Graduate

More and more adults are returning to school to retain their current jobs, find employment, compete for higher-paying positions, and complete a degree that they started years ago. But the traditional structure and organization of higher education often make it difficult for them to stay in school and graduate.

To help colleges and universities meet the needs of adult students, CAEL offers these services:

Assessment Tools for Colleges and Universities
Use CAEL’s Adult Learning Focused Institution (ALFI) Toolkits to survey your adult students and evaluate how well your institution meets their needs. These tools will help you discover and prioritize specific strategies to serve your adult students better.

Advising Services Tailor-Made for Adult Students
Learn about the unique needs of adult students and how to advise them through CAEL’s professional development webinars, workshops, and certificate program. We can train your advising staff, or advise students and employees directly.

Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements through 2018, Georgetown University, Center for Education and the Workforce, June 2010
Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Factbook 2009


Earning College Credit for Prior Learning

Read about CAEL’s online service,, to help people earn college credit for what they already know.

The site offers a prior learning credit predictor to help students determine how much college credit they could earn.

Students can also talk to a Credit Specialist, take a course in portfolio assessment, and assemble their portfolio - all online.

Complete the Degree

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has introduced and endorsed Complete the Degree; a free service, led by local non-profits with a commitment to educational success.


May 13, 2013

Competency-Based Evaluation Methods: A Solution for Adult Learners and Employers

Why do so many graduates of highly regarded institutions need unpaid internships in order to demonstrate job skills before an employer will hire them?

May 03, 2013

College for America and the Future of Adult Education

The Department of Education’s recent approval of the College for America program at Southern New Hampshire University has been exciting news for us around here at CAEL, as it affirms the work we’ve long been doing on behalf of adult learners striving for a degree.

May 02, 2013

The Emotional Impact of PLA

Not long ago, we conducted a survey of over 100 students enrolled in the LearningCounts program. Overall, the results lent much support to the effectiveness of prior learning assessment (PLA) in evaluating the skills and knowledge of adult students working towards degrees. But what particularly stood out for us was the emotional impact PLA had for learners.
April 02, 2013

Prior Learning Assessment: Making Learning Count

The Evolllution


PLA Online Certificate Program (Workshop 1)

January 12, 2015 at 12:00 AM

Learn to develop a professional portfolio assessment system for your institution, or strengthen your institution’s existing prior learning assessment (PLA) programs, by completing the online PLA certificate program. Offered by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) and DePaul University this program provides the basic tools to develop skills and procedures for assessing adults’ prior learning. The program is delivered over the Internet, allowing you to participate at any time, from any place, all you need is e-mail capability and a web browser.