NJ Program Allows Students to Earn College Credits for Work Experience


Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno has launched a new pilot program that would allow New Jersey students to earn college credits for work experience.

The New Jersey Prior Learning Assessment Network or NJ PLAN will have students take credit-by-exam tests, write papers or prepare portfolios to prove they have already mastered a subject or have enough work histories to skip a college class or course. The papers and portfolios will be reviewed by qualified college evaluators.

Students must pay to take and have their portfolios reviewed. However, the tuition and time it takes to complete a degree through this program is much cheaper than the conventional systems.

State officials said that this program is especially beneficial for working adult students, members of the military and non-traditional students who aspire to finish their college degrees.

"In addition to making it easier for those already in the workforce to get a head start when returning to college, NJ PLAN will translate their unique experience and skills into college credits that will save time, hold down college costs and reduce student loan debt," said Guadagno, NJ reports.

Thomas Edison State College will lead the new program along with the Essex County College, New Jersey City University, New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rowan University among others.

"We have more than 863,000 adults in New Jersey who have completed some college but hold no degree," Pruitt said. "They represent a vast pool of untapped potential. NJ PLAN is focused on bringing back these adults and helping them find a way to complete their degrees - which provides better-trained workers for the state economy."

Rolando Gorostiza, who holds a bachelor's degree in applied science and technology from Thomas Edison State College, earned 43 credits through prior learning assessments.

Gorostiza, a veteran draftsman working at L'Oreal USA in Clark, received credits in return for his previous occupations. He also gave exams to skip college sociology, English and Spanish classes.

"It is a lot of work. But, it is definitely something that can be done," said the married father of three from Riverside.

Pruitt said that not many students are aware of Prior learning assessments, known as PLAs. Plus, only few colleges support them on campus.

Opponents of PLAs argue that it is unfair for students to be bestowed with college credits for unattended classes. However, supporters claim that this system helps reduce costs and time to finish a degree.

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