Want Credit for Prior Learning & Skills? Is a Competency Based Education for You?

As a Career Changer, I had to make important career choices when I left Cube Nation and a toxic job I had professionally outgrown. Taking a path part time using distance learning since the late 1990s to pursue becoming a Professional Life Coach while working full time gave me practical hands on skills and knowledge as I worked with clients. I studied virtual team & group coaching communications, spiritual psychology, human performance and leadership with global leaders, top coaches and institutions.pointy-haired-boss-dilbert

I learned that I could create a Master’s degree using all that I was learning by designing my own curriculum through a competency based model of education. My thinking was, I am doing all this, I may as well get a degree out of it! So I applied at the School for New Learning at DePaul University and never looked back.

After completing my Bachelor of Science degree almost twenty years prior, I had an adjustment in adapting to being back in school and using critical thinking skills. Designing the many competencies for my unique program was initially a brain bender for me, but I received excellent instruction, support and professional advice from faculty, peers and experts aligned with the Master of Arts in Applied Professional Studies program (MAAPS). Learning techniques like mind mapping and taking Liberal Learning classes with others in my cohort who had their own unique programs were life changing.

I had searched for programs at many universities across the country but all of them wanted me to take a prescribed series of courses for credit hours at their institution. If you are going into Accounting or Law, this is definitely not the program for you, as those types of career training have a step by step  course progression that is very specific and deep into the subject.

Since I wanted to get credit for all that I had already done on my own dime, I saw that by designing my own competency-based curriculum would offer me a path to tie all the skills and knowledge together. While I was glad to finish after two years with a 3.98 GPA, I relish the learning and confidence I gained in writing and creating my own learning plan and the time I spent in classes with other professionals in meaningful and thoughtful reflective discussion.

Unknown to me at the time, after completing my Masters degree, I was eligible to teach and was asked to become an Adjunct Instructor at DePaul in the School for New Learning in the top rated undergraduate competency based program teaching a career skills building course. A popular course offered several times each year at a variety of DePaul campus locations since 2007, it is a rewarding opportunity to connect with adult learners who are engaged and excited about their own professional development.

thinkSo many people are unaware of the options available to them, to not only complete a Bachelor degree that may have been put on the back burner due to family, finances, relocation or work commitments, but that they can earn credits for prior learning, including on the job skills and knowledge. 

Here is more from a recent Gallup poll:

“Americans want a more accessible and affordable system of higher education, one that does more to recognize and reward the personal skills, knowledge and abilities that are genuinely valued in the workplace and can be linked to future learning opportunities.”

A summary of key findings from the Gallup/Lumina Foundation poll includes:

Americans want a new system of credentials that is focused on learning outcomes and competencies:

  • Eighty-seven percent of respondents said they believe students should be able to receive college credit for knowledge and skills acquired outside of the classroom.
  • Seventy-five percent indicated they would be more likely to enroll in a higher education program if they could be evaluated and receive credit for what they already know.
  • Seventy percent don’t believe learning should be time based and agree that if a student demonstrates they have mastered class material in less than the traditional 16-week session, they should be able to get credit for the course without sitting through the entire 16 weeks.

Americans want help addressing the costs of higher education:

  • Sixty-eight percent believe that companies should provide more assistance to employees.
  • Sixty-seven percent of respondents said that higher education institutions should reduce tuition and fees.
  • Fifty-nine percent indicated that state governments should provide more assistance. Fifty-five percent said that the federal government should provide more assistance.

Americans see value in education beyond high school, and many plan on returning to earn a degree:

  • Ninety-seven percent said it is important to have a certificate or degree beyond high school.
  • Those respondents who do not have a certificate or degree beyond high school agree that if they did, they would feel more secure in their job (58 percent) and in their financial future (sixty-four percent).
  • In the last year, 41 percent of Americans have thought about going back to school to earn a degree or certificate, with 42 percent of those saying they are very likely to do so.

More Americans see education costs as a barrier and they are concerned about quality:

  • Only twenty-six percent of respondents believe that the cost of higher education is affordable to anyone who needs it.
  • Twenty-seven percent indicated that the quality of high education is worse today that it was in the past.

Source: http://www.luminafoundation.org/newsroom/news_releases/2013-02-05.html#sthash.fk0CTxd6.dpuf

If you feel that you could benefit from the support of a facilitative, objective resource to address your life long learning and career development, please reach out to me via my website. I look forward to our conversation and seeing you step off into your GREATNESS!

To Your Success,

Coach Jennifer Weggeman, M.A.