When we ask you to think about earning college credit, we bet a Benjamin that you’re thinking about a classroom with lots of seats, with the teacher from Peanuts talking about something you could care less about. Are we right?
There’s something called “credits for prior learning” which boils down to this: colleges can give you credit for workforce training, professional development, job experience, military service and more. That means, you may never have stepped foot in a classroom before, but you could already have college credits towards an associate degree.
Benefits of an associate degree
Plain and simple, an associate degree can add more to your annual salary compared to having no degree at all. According to a study done by USA Today, the median annual wage for jobs that typically require an associate degree is $53,700, about $15,000 more than the median wage for all jobs and $29,000 more than the median pay for jobs with no education requirement.
Not only does an associate degree earn you more after graduation, but you save more along the way. Tuition at Virginia’s Community Colleges is one-third the cost of four-year schools. For the 20-21 fall semester, tuition for a full course load (15 credit hours, about five classes) is $2,310. And that’s before any financial aid is factored in.
Check if you have credits for prior learning
If you’re considering enrolling to get an associate degree, or maybe you’re just looking to earn a career studies certificate, check to see if you have any college credits already under your belt. Credits2Careers is a portal that helps you figure out what credit you have at any one of Virginia’s Community Colleges.
Right now, the tool has a heavy focus on the military. However, as part of a new initiative called “All Learning Counts,” it’s currently being expanded visually to capture more adult learners who have civilian workforce experience. Consider setting up an account and building your experience to see what you have. Take a look at this screenshot from the portal to find out how to skip the military experience and go straight to the workforce section.