“We think of it as honoring people’s life-long learning, by recognizing the potential that learning has to meet course outcomes for college credits,” says Carrie Delaney, coordinator of the Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) program at LCCC.
She says that for many people — such as veterans with technical and leadership experience gained in the military — on-the-job experience provides a great platform for PLA. LCCC is dedicated to helping people accelerate their learning and reduce the cost of training.
For example, medical assistant Sherry Lupica was awarded 19 credit hours in prior learning which, in addition to her supplement courses previously taken, allowed her to quickly complete her certificate — and saved her the $12,000 fee another institution was asking for those classes.
With nearly 17 years as a medical assistant under her belt, Lupica intended to follow her employer, a doctor, as he changed affiliations to be part of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation (CCF). But she ran into a roadblock.
“CCF requires all medical assistants to go through a formal medical assistant training program, which I had not completed,” Lupica says.
Although Lupica had enough on-the-job experience to pass the industry credential test, the foundation also required coursework, which would have been expensive and time consuming. Looking for an alternative, she found LCCC and the PLA program, which recognized her industry credentials and awarded course credit.
“I had enough experience to waive all of my coursework,” she says. “I just had to manage a lot of paperwork, with which Carrie and the staff at LCCC were incredibly helpful.”
Lupica says she had a network of LCCC faculty working on her behalf to put everything in motion.
“They walked me step by step through the whole process and went over and beyond my every expectation,” she says.
In the end, she found she had enough learning experience to equate to course outcomes for the required courses.
“After getting the paperwork completed, I took the CCF certification exam and passed with flying colors,” Lupica says.
The best part was, it cost her nothing. What’s more, Lupica’s experience counted for so much, she found herself just four classes away from earning an associate degree in medical assisting.
“I wouldn’t have realized it, but Carrie at LCCC reviewed my case and let me know how much my experience really counted for,” she says. “She told me how close I am to earning the additional degree. I am so grateful to her.”
The process for getting PLA credit
Lorain County Community College’s Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) program works with a number of organizations, including OhioTechNet and the Ohio Department of Higher Education. PLA takes into account all learning from experience that can meet those course learning outcomes.
Once the learning experience is properly documented, LCCC’s faculty may award credit.
“PLA ties in to our vision of serving customers and getting them through a program to a credential as quickly as possible,” says Carrie Delaney, coordinator of the Prior Learning Assessment program at LCCC. “We want to help however we may with completion and academic success.”
LCCC’s staff and faculty steer students toward PLA whenever it’s appropriate.
“When I heard about what Sherry Lupica was trying to accomplish from Ana Parrilla, medical assisting program director and Hope Moon, interim dean of Health and Wellness, we moved very quickly. We all pulled together to help guide her through the PLA process — it’s all about synergy and collaboration.”
PLA has emerged as a forerunner in supporting nontraditional learning.
“When you get prior learning credit as an adult learner, it’s a total boost of confidence,” Delaney says. “It validates your learning experiences and gives an immediate connection to college.”