Prior learning can
earn credit in
The school will give creditsBy Pat Omandam
for experiences ranging from
hobbies to community service
Those too busy to attend college may find they already have earned 30 college credits at the University of Hawaii without realizing it.
Beginning this fall, the UH community college system and UH-West Oahu will give credits for prior learning experiences that range from work-related seminars, hobbies and community service to independent reading.
All students have to do is document the learning they feel merits credit in a course offered anywhere in the UH system, and a faculty member in that field will decide whether credit should be granted.
Up to 30 credits can be used toward an associate's degree, which will be transferrable only to West Oahu for a bachelor's degree, says Joanne Clark, UH-West Oahu interim chancellor.
"The important thing here is we're giving credit for college-level learning," she said. "That means it has to be a combination of experience and theoretical knowledge."
"So it isn't the length of experience, it's the quality of experience. And it can be anything," Clark said.
Background in a person's "portfolio assessment" may include work- or home-related experiences, community service, volunteer activities, hobbies, as well as formal courses offered by associations, business, government and industry, the military or unions. Also accepted is learning through independent reading.
For example, Clark said, a computer programmer at a major corporation who has read up on the
blrb College credit may be granted for work or home experience, volunteer activities, hobbies, formal courses and reading.theories behind computers could earn credit for a Computer 100 class because he or she already has the knowledge and theory behind the course.
The goal, UH officials say, is to recognize that many Hawaii students are adults who may have had college-level training. The average age of a UH community college student is 25.9 years, with more than 9,800 students over the age of 25.
The average age of a West Oahu student is 32.1 years. About 213 students -- or 33 percent of its enrollment -- are over the age of 35.
Community colleges and West Oahu officials met for more than a year on the plan and signed an agreement July 9 establishing guidelines to award and transfer credits earned through credit-for-prior learning or credit-by-examination.
The latter is an existing program where students take tests in any discipline, such as fluency in a language, for college credit.
Thirty credits of prior learning is the maximum allowed by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the UH's accrediting agency.
Kathy Jaycox, acting vice chancellor for community affairs and special programs, said the agreement shortens the time needed to complete degree requirements.
Joyce Tsunoda, UH senior vice president and chancellor for community colleges, said credit for prior learning has value in today's rapidly changing technological and economic climate.
"This allows for greater access and flexibility to serve adult learners who want to advance their education or career while juggling the responsibilities of jobs and families," Tsunoda said.
For more information, contact the community colleges or West Oahu.
A $100 nonrefundable fee will be charged for each course for which credit for prior learning is being sought, regardless of whether credit is ultimately awarded.