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Turn Your Life Experience Into College Credits

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The Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) option for adult undergraduate students reflects how Simmons values the unique knowledge and experiences Dix Scholars contribute to the college community. CPL offers Dix Scholars the opportunity to earn academic credit for college-level learning gained outside the classroom. Students may earn the equivalent of 6 college-level classes (24 credits), saving them both valuable time and money! With intensive, one-on-one writing support, students complete a narrative and a portfolio to demonstrate their learning.

Here's How Credit for Prior Learning Works:
After meeting with the Credit for Prior Learning coordinator, Terry Muller, adult undergraduate students elect to take the Credit for Prior Learning Seminar (IDS 227). The two-credit course, which meets once per week for one semester, guides a student through the process, which is outlined below:

  • Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) is awarded by Simmons for college-level learning through work or life experience.
  • Students may earn up to 24 CPL credits. These credits are included in the 80 credits students may transfer in.
  • Once students have identified prior learning that is college level, they assemble a portfolio to demonstrate their learning and to submit to faculty for review.

Because learners have unique experiences, portfolios will differ; however, all portfolios will include documentation of student experience and learning. Documentation of learning will vary and may include:

  • Work samples
  • Certificates
  • Letters of testimony or reference
  • Demonstrations or outcomes of performances

All portfolios include:

  • A Narrative to Explain Learning
    • a chronological or thematic/topical description of activities or processes (i.e., experiences) that led to learning
    • an analysis of learning
    • a description of application of learning
    • concluding thoughts on reasons for applying for credit for prior learning
  • A Resume
  • Evaluation of Credit for Prior Learning form
  • Appropriate forms of evidence to document prior learning

Experience vs. Learning
Credit for prior learning is awarded for college-level learning, not for experience. Experience is narrow - e.g., it helps you function effectively in one particular job. But learning is broader. It gives you general understanding that you can apply to new situations. It enables you to create new projects or solve new problems.

"My experience in the Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) Seminar: This seminar was an amazing journey which provided an opportunity to examine the value of my many years as a mother, volunteer and artist. [CPL director] Terry Mueller challenged and encouraged me to articulate the college level learning that my life experience provided. I have shared my portfolios with family and friends, and they are something that I truly treasure."
-Peggy Lindquist '10

Hear recent Dix Scholar Karen Mackenzie discuss her experience with the Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) Seminar!



Think you might be a candidate for the Credit for Prior Learning Seminar? Contact Terry Muller, CPL coordinator, via email or by calling 617-521-2471.