Not all learning happens in the classroom. In fact, some of the most profound learning people engage in takes place at home, at work and in the community. At White Mountains Community College (WMCC), we recognize that all individuals possess distinctive assets, including a set of uniquely developed knowledge and skills. To honor these diverse bodies of knowledge, no matter how or where their learning was acquired, we have streamlined our efforts to offer multiple ways students can earn credit for prior learning.
According to the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), more than 22 percent of the working population has some college credits and/or training but no postsecondary degree. For individuals who started working towards a college degree and for whatever reason did not complete, WMCC honors courses students have taken at other accredited institutions, provided the student earned a grade of C or better (C+ for Nursing/Health Science required laboratory courses). Our onboarding team works with students to help them apply their transfer credits toward a degree or certificate pathway that would empower them in the career field of their choice.
More research released by CAEL reveals that 37 percent of college students are 25 or older, and 64 percent of college students work while attending – with an impressive 40 percent working full-time jobs. Because of this, WMCC recognizes that saving money and time is foremost in the minds of the college students and potential college-goers. As a result, WMCC has outlined opportunities for individuals to earn credit by examination for those who want their knowledge and skills assessed via a standardized test. Among these options are the College Level Examination Protocol (CLEP), the DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSST), and the Challenge Exam, which is an exam created in-house by request.
Because not all students perform optimally in standardized testing situations, we also offer students the option of creating a portfolio of evidence demonstrating their learning, from resumes to certificates of training, to performance reviews and letters from employers. For those who possess an industry recognized credential, such as Certified Clinical Medical Assistant from the National Healthcareers Association, we have also created crosswalks for credit, which demonstrate to a student exactly which courses they can automatically earn credit for simply by submitting a valid copy of their credential with a credit for prior learning request form.
New Hampshire economic development organizations have made it no secret that by 2025, two-thirds of all jobs will require some form of post-secondary education. It is for this reason the state has committed to a 65 X 25 moonshot, which – with combined statewide agency efforts – would lead to 65 percent of New Hampshire adults holding a high-value credential or postsecondary degree by 2025.
WMCC is committed to doing our part to empower North Country residents and break down barriers that might otherwise stand in the way between them and more financial security in their future. Not only have we committed to expanding the availability of credit for prior learning, but we have worked with industry partners in areas of high need to develop innovative approaches to directly meet industry needs and enable individuals to be job ready from day one.
One example is our newly implemented Educator Fast Path pilot program, which allows school administrative units and the paraprofessional educators working for them to partner with us in creating a pathway to teacher certification in as little as three years. Paraprofessional educators have the ability to earn a special education certificate through guided portfolio assessment of five out of eight classes, providing them the opportunity to learn while on the job and demonstrate proof of their competency via portfolio assessment.
At a time when the economy is in flux, the job market is ever-changing, and families have to concern themselves with how to pay for heat this winter, it is incumbent upon us to rise to the occasion and level the playing field, remove barriers for upward mobility, and support the collective security of our North Country citizenry. WMCC is proud to be part of the solution.
For more information about WMCC’s credit for prior learning options, visit wmcc.edu.
Cynthia Pike is the Director of Workforce Development & Academic Integration at White Mountains Community College.