Credit for Prior Learning

Cristy Sugarman of North Shore Community College Shares How Credit for Prior Learning Can Motivate Students of All Backgrounds

As technology advances and becomes more sophisticated, higher education has to adapt to evaluate all kinds of new certifications. So how are colleges and universities changing to accept a wider spread of credentials? According to Dr. Cristy Sugarman, the Director for the Center for Alternative Studies and Educational Testing at North Shore Community College, credit for prior learning has shifted along with the lives of the students who are seeking credentials.

“Although credit for prior learning is kind of primarily aimed at what we call nontraditional [students]…I would like to personally coin the phrase post-traditional. Because the kind of students that we’re seeing now, they’re not straight out of high school,” she says.

“Especially at community colleges, they have jobs, they have families to look after. Basically, their primary responsibilities lie outside of school. And within that context, they’re trying to either get a new job, up-skill, get a pay raise, get a promotion, change fields, just learn more about something that they become passionate about.”

As our life spans increase, students are starting to enter school at different times in their lives. Cristy says higher education needs to be better prepared to accommodate students who may be coming back to school after being in the workforce.

“A lot of people who have been out of school for a while can lack a little bit of confidence when it comes to re-entering school,” says Sugarman. “So to come into an academic environment, it’s easy to feel discouraged.”

“But when somebody is honoring the work that you’ve already done and saying, ‘Hey, you can do this…And guess what? It’s college level experience and you can apply this towards a degree.’ It’s very motivating,” she says.

Listen in to our interview with Dr. Cristy Sugarman to learn more about how higher ed evaluation of credits is shifting, and how North Shore Community College’s tactics could impact a new generation of students.

This podcast episode is sponsored by Woz U. Steve Wozniak changed the world when he invented the personal computer, and now he’s doing it again with education. Founded by Steve Wozniak, Woz U is educating America’s tech force in software development, cyber security, and data science online and on campus.

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Mariel Cariker

Mariel Cariker

Mariel is a Boston-based freelance writer and audio producer who has covered news, technology and innovation for public media groups including WBUR and WGBH. Outside of work, she performs and writes spoken word poetry and voraciously reads true crime novels.