Credit for working outside the classroom

Even though you’ve been out of school for a few years, that doesn’t mean you haven’t been learning. Many schools will award academic credit for learning outside a traditional classroom. The most common way is through standardized tests, either the CLEP or DSST.

The CLEP (College-Level Examination Program) is administered by the College Board, which also administers the SAT and AP exams. There are 33 different CLEP exams, including topics in history and social sciences, science and math, English literature, foreign languages and business.

The DSST (DANTES Subject Standardized Test) is administered by Prometric, which also administers the GRE. There are 38 tests in both academic subjects and subjects that test job knowledge in fields like substance abuse, criminal justice, business and health.

Most of these tests can count for up to a full course’s worth of credit. At less than $100 each, the tests are a bargain, but before taking one, check with your school. “Credits are given on a case-by-case basis,” explains William Parshall, executive director of Temple’s Center City and Ambler campuses. “Depending on the school and the program, a test might count toward the requirements for a major, or it might only count as an elective.”

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