Kathryn Walker is a current undergraduate student in our Business program who used past work experiences to earn Prior Learning Assessment credits towards her degree. She shares her thoughts on the experience with us.
1. Why did you choose to continue your education at CUNY SPS?
Professional progression can be somewhat hindered without at least a BS. Today, having an AS does not wield the impressive influence that it did 25 years ago (when I received my AS). In going back to school to complete my BS, I needed a flexible schedule so that I could juggle school with my full-time job and home responsibilities. Although there are several on-line schools, CUNY SPS had the best price with a high-quality brand name.
2. What is the single most important professional or personal goal that you would like to achieve while at CUNY SPS or after graduation?
Personally, I look forward to losing the weight I gained since starting back to school. Professionally, I look forward to having increased opportunities. With a combination of extensive experience in making executives look ridiculously good and an official, formal BS—look out!
3. Why did you decide to participate in PLA at CUNY SPS?
One complaint that I had with CUNY SPS was that there was no “experience” credits available. Having to take every course for every credit made the attainment of the degree especially long, and in some cases, frustrating. With my experience, there were some classes that I thought, “Why on earth do I have to waste my time and energy doing this?” Doing the PLA gave me the opportunity to gain credits for the PLA class itself and credits for a class called Writing at Work. This afforded me the time and energy to spend on another class, thus fulfilling the curriculum a little faster.
4. How has the PLA opportunity helped you progress at CUNY SPS? Has it changed your view of what it means to return to school? If yes, how?
PLA helped me to fulfil the curriculum a little faster. It did not change my view of returning to school. It would have been helpful to have had “experience” credits available sooner. One classmate in the program (from another school) said that he had received 36 credits for previous work experience, and he was on target to finish his BS after one year. I kind of felt like a schmuck because I had been forging along for three years, and at that time, was only eligible for 6 credits with the classes I had left. It was still worth it though—every bit helps.
5. In which ways do you believe you have or will benefit from PLA?
I thought it was an interesting exercise in analysis. Explaining one’s knowledge is usually an abbreviated variation of “I know stuff because I’ve done stuff.” PLA asks students to elaborate on the “stuff:” what did you do; what were the circumstances that led you to do what you did; what did you observe while doing what you did; what did you learn from your observation; and how have you applied that learning to the point of confidently being able to say “I know.” PLA teaches a student to methodically analyze and explain the claim that he/she knows something. Interesting, but also exhausting.
6. What did you learn, if anything, from the PLA process?
I know a lot of stuff ☺.
7. What advice would you offer someone considering application for admission to your degree program? What advice would you offer someone considering PLA at CUNY SPS?
The sooner you start back to school, the better. The longer you put off going back to school, the more out-of-sync you are with everyone else in your life. That being said, it is never too late to go back to school. Just do it. If there are any ways to get credits for life experience or work experience, take advantage of them as soon as possible. Understand that every class will take a minimum of 12 hours per week, so you need to allow sufficient time for this. Pace yourself and manage your time wisely to lessen the chance of being overwhelmed.