Download the NLC Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Guidebook.

About Prior Learning Assessment

“I have a lot of experience through the labor movement and was able to turn that knowledge and learning into credit,” said Helen Foreman-Hines, 61, the political action project director for SEIU 1199 – United Healthcare Workers East.

Helen earned 30 credits by documenting her learning through a portfolio process called the Prior Learning Assessment (PLA).

Through PLA, NLC students have the opportunity to earn college credit for learning acquired outside of a traditional college classroom.

She gives thanks to Jennifer Harrison, director of learning assessment, who helped her throughout her journey.

At first, Helen was intimidated by writing the PLA essays: “I had the information; I just couldn’t structure it.” Professor Harrison continued to work with Helen on writing style and structure until she got it right.

“I took writing courses with Jennifer and it all came back to me. I kept reading more and going to the library until I got it together,” said Helen.

Like Helen, many students who haven’t employed their writing skills for many years –or even decades– may be intimidated to start the PLA process. That’s where the PLA Workshop fits in.

Workshop Shows You How You Can Earn 30 Credits

The NLC’s Prior Learning Assessment Workshop helps students document their college-level learning in writing intensive portfolios.

During the seven week online workshop, students will:

  • Write resumes listing jobs, training, and/or education
  • Write autobiographical narrative essays, identify areas of expertise comparable to college-level learning
  • Research college course descriptions that match nontraditional learning experience
  • Write essays that parallel the learning described in the courses
  • Document evidence of the learning to support the essay
  • Learn how to submit their portfolio for evaluation

The workshop provides students with a thorough understanding of the process and a structured way to earn their credits. Download the NLC PLA Guidebook to learn more about the process.

Enrolling in the PLA workshop costs $336. The evaluation fee is $336 for the first 15 credits and $336 for review of 16-30 credits.

Your Lifetime of Learning Counts with NLC

PLA allows you to earn credit for learning that has not been assessed for credit. Experiential credit can come through on-the-job training, union work, volunteer work in the community, starting a business, through crafts or hobbies and through non-assessed military experience, apprenticeships, or certifications.

Completing her degree was emotional for Helen:

For all the years that I felt I worked so hard and there was no acknowledgment—it put tears in my eyes. That someone recognized all the work—it meant a lot to me.

Helen was awarded the President’s award for her perseverance and determination as she worked towards her bachelor’s degree.

How Do I Enroll in PLA?

Speak to your advisor about whether PLA is right for you.