The online college life experience degree is the often-spoken, yet little-understood degree of desire for many who for one reason or another either don’t have a higher education qualification, or who wish to add to their qualification portfolio after a career of top-level management or professional level employment. Let’s be upfront right from the outset – you may have to start thinking internationally.
You have probably seen websites or received junk email offering life experience degrees; just call the number and pay an extortionate fee in return the said certificate being delivered to your front door within a matter of days, or, preferably, totally ignore this junk. These so-called colleges are known as diploma mills and they offer useless degrees that are not even worth the paper they are printed on.
However, if you fit the description above, are mid-way through or nearing the peak of your career and seek academic credentials, there may be genuine, workable solutions available. Even if you work 20 hours a day and have little time to study an online degree. Even if you are working overseas. Even if you are in your 50’s or 60’s.
An online college life experience degree is known by some as a VAE; Wikipedia defines it as follows:
“The VAE or Validation des Acquis de l’Expérience is a procedure that allows any French educational institution to grant degrees partly or totally on work experience. A portfolio of the applicant’s achievements and work experience is presented to a committee at the educational institution for evaluation.”
While a procedure that occurs in France, access to an online college life experience degree is less obvious than one might imagine. Many career advisors will suggest you take all your life experience and enroll in a college, take the courses required to earn your online degree and that all your life experience should reflect in your final GPA.
But the preferred alternatives are most likely going to be to:
1. Choose a Bachelor Degree completion program, for those of you who already have an Associate Degree. Aspen University, at reasonable cost, offers a DETC-accredited degree and have a fine reputation among distance schools. You will find out more by searching under “bachelor’s degree completion program” or similar.
2. Another option, perhaps not so well-known outside of the UK is the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM), where you can register to become a Fellow. Generally upper management, senior managers of major firms apply to this institution which has been a standard setter for decades in the UK. You will need to prove you are a senior manager to apply.
Then, after successfully becoming an ILM fellow, the next step is to go to the City and Guilds London Institute. Here you can obtain a GCGI in leadership and management – a highly respected credential. City & Guilds is an accrediting body itself, so in the UK you will certainly get the recognition you will want.
The City & Guilds qualification is very much akin to an online college life experience degree – it can be evaluated by NACES charter member service in the USA as being equivalent to US regionally accredited Masters Degree in Management, with employers having no issues accepting it.
But the City & Guild GCGI qualification isn’t a degree, right? Correct. And this might prove to create problems with being accepted by US higher education universities who each require a transcript. Problem? Not really.
The GCGI is a level 6 in the UK which usually requires the taking of certain classes. These classes are required to achieve a graduate credential, which is in turn accepted by many US universities’ graduate schools. A Level 6 is equivalent to a UK Honors Degree (BSc).
Learn more about City & Guilds here, a United Kingdom examining and accreditation body for vocational, managerial and engineering training, offering over 500 qualifications in 28 industry areas.
A reassuring fact is that over 1.7 million learners work towards City & Guilds qualifications every year; it’s nothing newfangled.
3. Get your online college life experience degree by becoming a member of the Royal Chartered Society in the UK, a leading organization, and earn their Chartered designation.
4. A course similar to an online college life experience degree that may suit can be found at Thomas Edison State College. They are able to turn your experience into a portfolio. You can earn the required credits this way instead.
Essentially, while options do exist, it is currently a case of thinking further afield than you may have initially expected. An online college life experience degree is within your reach, and this really is something that not a lot of people realize.