Adult Learners Can Earn Credit for What They Already Know Through Prior Learning Assessment | UNB

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College of Extended Learning

Earn Credit for What You Already Know

Adult Learners Can Earn Credit for What They Already Know Through Prior Learning Assessment

The University of New Brunswick, College of Extended Learning (UNB CEL) makes higher education and degree attainment accessible to adult learners.

“Every adult learner’s circumstances are unique,” explains Lorna Campbell, coordinator at UNB CEL. “They may be continuing their education to learn new skills to enhance their productivity at work. They may want to advance or change careers. Some come to us simply because it is something they always wanted to do, and the time feels right.”

UNB CEL representatives work with each student to help them find the fastest path to meeting their goals and graduation, which involves looking at their past learning experiences.

Some adult learners come with some post-secondary education, maybe an unfinished degree or community college diploma. If this is the case, courses are evaluated for equivalency to UNB courses and may be transferred into a program.

“Many come with a combination of prior learning experiences beyond formal classroom learning,” explains Campbell.

Take the case of Christie Drew, a Licenced Practical Nurse by trade and a former entrepreneur with significant business experience. Currently in an established career at Horizon Health Network, earning a university degree was always on her bucket list. Last spring, she started working toward her Bachelor of Integrated Studies (BIS), UNB’s degree completion program designed for adult learners.

Christie considered various degree programs but selected the BIS because she could take courses that were relevant to her interests. Most programs she explored had specific requirements and no flexibility.

“I would have had to take courses that wouldn’t benefit me. I am at the stage of my life where I want to learn something new and relevant. Taking courses on a topic that I already have competency isn’t the best use of my time,” she explains.

Christie saw the BIS advertised on Facebook and found it appealing. She liked that she was able to tailor her learning to where she was in her career and that there was recognition of her prior learning.

She contacted the university and set an appointment with Lorna Campbell, who guided her through the Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) process.

PLA is a system that evaluates a student’s prior learning for equivalency in courses for credit. Through the process, Christie obtained 24 credit hours toward her program.

“I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome of the PLA. I was thrilled that my experience as an entrepreneur allowed me to get credit hours in university. I don’t think that I had ever really considered that to be an option.”

Christie praises the support and guidance she received.

“Lorna was instrumental in helping to narrow down where I focus my energy—areas that I have a good chance of getting credit.”

UNB understands the need to recognize the learning adults bring to the classroom. Prior Learning Assessment helps adult learners reach their goals faster.

Christie questions whether or not she would have started a degree if it wasn’t for the recognition.

“I am really excited for the opportunity and so grateful for the recognition of my life experience. It is so meaningful—I don’t think that you can fully appreciate the value that it means to an individual. It is far more than financial. The recognition of my accomplishments is significant.”

If you are an adult learner thinking of returning to school this fall, contact the UNB College of Extended Learning at 506-453-4646 or extend@unb.ca to learn about programs and services designed to help you reach your goals.