Overview of Prior Learning Assessment Options
Prescott College offers its undergraduate and graduate students a way to assess their prior learning for College credit. Students are allowed to make their case for prior learning credits through the Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) course offered each term. The PLA course offers two portfolio types for undergraduates: Conversion Portfolio (CP) and Life Experience Portfolio (LEP). The PLA course offers one portfolio type for graduate students: the Life Experience Portfolio (see the "Types of PLA Portfolios" section of this online PLA handbook).
The PLA course is designed to structure a process for creating an electronic portfolio that will convince evaluators to award Prescott College credit for prior learning experiences. Enrollment in the PLA course is by application only for eligible students.
Undergraduate students may request no more than 60 semester credits through this course and may earn no more than 36 credits per semester, with credit-limit caps assigned to each portfolio-type. Graduate students may earn through Life Experience Portfolio up to 15 credits for their Life Experience Portfolio, but this number may be limited further by their graduate program.
Other credit limits per portfolio type apply (see the "Types of PLA Portfolios" section of this handbook). Students may apply to enroll in the PLA course more than once; the PLA course instructor makes the final determination on who may enroll, and who may not, based on the application.
Who may apply: Any Prescott College undergraduate student in good academic standing who has an approved degree plan; and any Prescott College graduate student with the consent of their master’s program advisor. This means that typically no student will enroll in the Prior Learning Assessment course during their first enrollment period. Students planning to graduate at the end of the term in which they are enrolled in the PLA course may have their graduation conferment delayed, due to the evaluation process involved with the Life Experience Portfolio. Therefore, students are advised to apply for and take the PLA course in a term prior to their last academic term.
When to apply: A completed Prior Learning Assessment course application is due August 1 for fall term; December 1 for spring term; April 1 for summer term. The $50 non-refundable application fee is due in the Business Office on the same schedule.
How to apply: 1) Complete the application form and email it with a copy of your approved degree plan to the Prior Learning Assessment instructor listed on the Home Page of this online PLA Handbook; 2) Pay your $50 PLA application fee. Step by step instructions for paying this fee are located here in the online PLA handbook, under the tab “PLA Application Fee Instructions; 3) The PLA instructor will notify you by email of your acceptance/denial/further questions, typically within two-weeks after your application submission.
Other important considerations:
- Not all graduate programs accept Prior Learning Assessment credits. If a student intends to attend graduate school eventually, that student should thoroughly research the impact credits earned through Prior Learning Assessment might have on their future academic pursuits. All credits earned through PLA portfolios do count towards the Prescott College degree requirements.
- The PLA course requires mature academic writing skills. Much of the writing is research-based, makes a cogent argument, requires effective use of evidence, and must be documented per an accepted editorial style sheet. Students are shown how to organize their portfolios into chapters that describe past learning experiences as if they had been college-level courses. They must be willing and able to analyze, synthesize, and document their experiences following specific academic criteria. The portfolios are not paperwork dumps or memoirs from a previous life phase. The length of portfolio chapters is specified in the PLA course. They must be thoroughly revised and edited by the student within the span of the PLA course without the possibility of an 'Incomplete' extension.
- By enrolling in the course the student commits to paying the evaluation fee for each portfolio s/he produces by the end of the term. See "PLA Costs and Fees" for the evaluator fee schedule.
- PLA course credits may be applied toward the total number of credits needed for graduation; and they may count toward credit requirements in the breadth or competence areas. The number of enrolled PLA credits (typically 4 or 8 in a given semester) count toward enrollment status in any given term for Financial Aid purposes. The course is offered on a 'credit/no credit' basis only. Incompletes are not given for the PLA course.
- Credits earned through the PLA portfolios receive no letter grade but are awarded for credit only. The final undergraduate Degree Plan (which forms the basis of a student's academic transcript) must spell out how the PLA credits earned apply toward the graduation requirements of the degree program and the College.
- A full course equivalent at Prescott College is 3 or 4 semester credits. Credit requests for a single PLA chapter typically do not exceed 6 semester credits. Credit requests for chapters documenting less than a full course equivalent should be discussed with the PLA course instructor at the time of application.
- Completion of an PLA portfolio does not guarantee that the evaluator will award any of the student's credit request. External valuators determine the final credit award based on the PLA criteria and the quality of each chapter within the Eportfolio.
- Evaluation of the Life Experience Portfolio can take 2-6 weeks after the end of the PLA course. Students requesting PLA credit during their last academic term are likely to delay their graduation conferment date. Students should endeavor to take the PLA course prior to their final academic term to avoid delaying graduation.