Giv­ing credit where credit is due

Toronto Sun - - CONTINUING EDUCATION - LINDA WHITE Spe­cial to Post­media Net­work

When Melissa Brant­ford’s ca­reer plateaued, she de­cided to re­turn to school to earn a de­gree. But be­cause she had valu­able skills and ed­u­ca­tion un­der her belt, she didn’t have to start from scratch.

The Seneca Col­lege stu­dent ap­plied to Prior Learn­ing As­sess­ment and Recog­ni­tion (PLAR) for three cred­its. “Hav­ing the op­por­tu­nity to pur­sue this av­enue is im­por­tant. It val­i­dated the prior ed­u­ca­tion and skills I have ac­quired over my ca­reer,” says Brant­ford (not her real name).

“It did make school less in­tim­i­dat­ing to know my pre­vi­ous ed­u­ca­tion and life ex­pe­ri­ences were rec­og­nized as be­ing valu­able to them as well. It’s also great to save time and money by re­ceiv­ing PLAR cred­its rather than hav­ing to take the cour­ses. I can com­plete my de­gree faster, which is sig­nif­i­cant to me.”

PLAR is ideal for those who’ve gained skills and ex­pe­ri­ence out­side of the class­room or in non-tra­di­tional ed­u­ca­tional set­ting but still have ac­quired the knowl­edge that would be equiv­a­lent and com­pa­ra­ble to in-class/on­line study, says Danielle Mercier, chair of busi­ness stud­ies in Seneca’s fac­ulty of con­tin­u­ing ed­u­ca­tion.

“Par­tic­u­larly, PLARs are ben­e­fi­cial for those who are in­ter­ested in re­turn­ing to school and have ex­ten­sive work or vol­un­teer ex­pe­ri­ence in a par­tic­u­lar area and are seek­ing to strengthen their ex­per­tise and skillset,” she says. “Stu­dents tak­ing part-time cour­ses through the fac­ulty of con­tin­u­ing ed­u­ca­tion are ide­ally suited to ap­ply for PLAR, as many bring a va­ri­ety of skills and ex­pe­ri­ence from their em­ploy­ment.”

If a course cov­ers ma­te­rial you al­ready know and is PLAR el­i­gi­ble, you can ask to ‘chal­lenge’ your knowl­edge. You may be tested with writ­ten or oral ex­ams, in­ter­views or case stud­ies to as­sess your knowl­edge and skills or asked to sub­mit a port­fo­lio of your work. It can help save stu­dents both time and money – though there is a charge to chal­lenge a credit.

Your as­sess­ment will be graded and the grade will ap­pear on your tran­script and count to­wards your Grade Point Av­er­age. You can re­ceive up to 75% of your cred­its through PLAR and trans­fer cred­its; the re­main­der must come from classes taken at the in­sti­tu­tion is­su­ing the diploma, de­gree or cer­tifi­cate. Visit the Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion for Prior Learn­ing at www.capla.ca for help­ful re­sources.

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