Credit for Prior Learning: Former Marine Earns Academic Credit for His Service

As I mentioned in a prior post for this series, the high school to college educational path is no longer the norm. Today, students over the age of 25 account for nearly 40% of all U.S. undergraduate enrollments (NCES, 2012). Seventy-five percent of students are juggling some combination of family commitment, job, and education, while commuting to campus (Complete College America, 2011). Due to many factors, adult learners are spending longer than ever in pursuit of attaining their degrees, and paradoxically, time is a barrier to college completion. Research from the National Center for Education shows that only 15% of those who start at a community college complete their degree within three years, and only 57% of students at four-year colleges graduate within six years (NCES, 2011). In light of this current situations, credit for prior learning (CPL), which is a practice that has been around for decades, is helping more students graduate faster.

CPL is a practice more and more higher education institutions are using to give students academic credit for demonstrated competency and mastery of knowledge and skills earned through experiential learning—such as independent study, noncredit courses, work experience, licensure or certification, or a credit by examination program. In other words, students are able to earn credit toward graduation from activities that are outside the traditional academic environment. This credit is awarded to students during the admission process and can shorten the time to graduation by months or even years.

To examine CPL, we have created a four-part podcast series. In this second podcast, we talk with Chris Hammann, who is currently a student at Northern Kentucky University. Chris has benefitted from receiving credits for his service as a Marine and prior work experience. He shares his journey about why he decided to pursue higher education, some of the hurdles he needed to overcome to attend college, how receiving credit for prior learning has helped him, and advice he gives others thinking about going back to school. He is excited about his future.

Visit our website for more information on CPL and read Chris’s full story.





Complete College America. (2011). Time is the Enemy. National Report. Retrieved from

National Center for Education Statistics. (2011). The Condition of Education 2011 in Brief. (NCES 2011-034). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from

National Center for Education Statistics. (2012). Digest of Education Statistics, 2011. (NCES 2012-001). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from