By Kristie Hamon

For students carrying prior college experience in their field of study, Eastern offers a variety of options. While full degrees are not given for previously earned experience, students can opt to test out of and receive credit for specific courses.

Some of the options available include military credit, College Level Examination Program (CLEP), Advanced Placement (AP) testing and a portfolio class that instructs one how to properly document the prior experience you may have in order to bypass related courses.

Tina Davis, university registrar, said any student who thinks they have enough background in a certain area of study, like calculus, can take a CLEP test. If students score high enough, they can test out of the corresponding class at the university. For example, Davis said testing out of a higher math class would not additionally test the student out of the courses leading up to the one they tested out of.

“CLEP tests are standardized tests offered across the country,” Davis said.

She said a CLEP test costs $77 for the exam and $15 for an administration fee.

“Costs a lot less than three hours of credit, though,” Davis added.

She said there are all kinds of different CLEP tests and departments have different policies regarding the tests. A complete listing of CLEP test scores required to test out of certain courses can be found in the course catalogue.

According to the 2011-2012 undergraduate catalogue, students can apply prior learning through methods such as documented life experience employment, homemaking, military experience, company-sponsored training, community service, volunteer activities, independent research and travel study.

Students who wish to pursue credit for prior learning need their advisers to approve them to take GSD 220.

Davis said another option several students choose to use is military credit.

The catalogue states that students can receive military credit in military science and leadership courses for completing basic training and advanced individual training.

Sara Zeigler, dean of university programs, said another way Eastern offers experiential credit to students who have prior experience in their field of study is through a portfolio course.

“What that class does is it provides a process by which the students can assemble materials that would document that prior learning experience,” Zeigler said. “At the end of the class, a faculty member will evaluate the portfolio.”

This means prior experience credits will be determined after completion of the course.

Davis said she foresees the current options Eastern has in place strengthening in the future.

Zeigler, however. said she doesn’t think Eastern will offer full degrees for prior experience in the future.

“I see us going to a system where we do allow a limited number of credits to be earned for prior experience,” Zeigler said. “I don’t see us awarding full degrees based on that…There is an important academic component that happens at the university, and there’s important theoretical knowledge that can’t necessarily be gained in the workplace.”