Fewer college courses for adult learners who get credit from work, life experience

ROANOKE, Va.This article is part of “Solutions” our ongoing commitment to solutions journalism, spotlighting creative people in communities working to make the world a better place, one solution at a time. Find out what you can do to help SolutionariesNetwork.com.


Time and money can be obstacles for adults who want to change careers or go to college. But at a local community college, they emphasize how students can take fewer classes and still be successful. We work for you on how you can get college credit for your life experience.

“I just wanted to change. I wanted to do something different,” said Latrice Hilton, an adult learner.

But like many people, working full time doesn’t always make it easy. Hilton found the opportunity she needed, breaking into medical coding through Virginia’s G3 program at Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke.

“So this is an opportunity for me, even though I’m working and have other obligations, it opens a door for me to excel in the areas that I want to excel in,” Hilton said.

The G3 program pays for training in five of the most in-demand industries: early childhood education, health care, information technology, public safety and skilled trades.

But Hilton can also get credit for other training – not in class.

“We all know change is scary, very, very scary. And so it’s my job to make sure it’s not that scary. Help them navigate those waters. Figure out if learning that they gained from those work and life experiences could be equivalent to college-level learning so we can get them credit for that,” said VWCC Prior Learning Credit Specialist Cathy Ferguson.

Ferguson examines the skills learned in the field and how that translates into college courses.

“What that means in the long run is that they won’t have to take those introductory courses. This will save them time. It will save them money and they can start the more advanced courses,” Ferguson said. “We don’t just award credit, we award credit for their learning that is equivalent to college-level learning. »

Hilton says having access to programs like these means she can grow.

“It’s an opportunity for me. Even though I’m working and have other obligations, it opens a door for me to excel in the areas I want to excel in and I’m not just going to work because I need a job. But this time I’m going to do something that I really love. The opportunity is there and I’m taking it,” Hilton said.

You can get college credit for things like industry certifications, military and law enforcement training, national standardized exams like CLEP, and even AP exams. Portfolio valuations can also help. This is a self-assessment of learning that you believe is equivalent to college-level learning.

You can learn more about the Prior Learning Credits program and contact information here.

Since last summer, Virginia Western has used G3 funding to provide $1.22 million in aid to 1,336 students. On the manpower side, G3 has so far helped 27 students earn degrees and funded students in CCMA, Pharm Tech, EKG Tech, Phlebotomy, Welding, HEO, Mechatronics Fundamentals and Machining.

At Virginia’s 23 community colleges for the 2021-22 academic year:

  • 11,084 VCCS students received nearly $14.9 million in G3 tuition assistance,

  • 75% (8,272) of G3 students enrolled in credit programs leading to a post-secondary diploma or certificate, while the remaining quarter (2,867) were enrolled in non-credit Workforce Credential Grant (WCG) programs that lead to third-party licensing or certification.

Virginia Community Colleges offering free tuition under the G3 initiative, you can learn more about it by visiting: https://virginiag3.com/


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