PLA: An Empowering Experience
Erik Padilla is a successful neurodiagnostic technologist in Chicago. Two years ago, he decided to attend Loyola in order to complete his college degree and expand his career opportunities.
Through SCPS' Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) program, Erik was able to earn college credit for the knowledge he's gained in his professional experiences, saving time and money on completing his degree.
Loyola awarded him 27 college credits for his learning on the job, meaning he could complete his bachelor’s degree a year earlier than planned. Earning 27 credits also meant that Erik would save a significant amount of money in the process.
“It’s both rewarding to be recognized for your expertise but also very meaningful to know that Loyola really wants to help me succeed.” ~Erik Padilla
"In my years as a technician, I had completed numerous board exams and presentations on epilepsy and diagnostic testing. SCPS recognized the value of that work and what it meant for my professional development. It’s a great feeling."
Below are some questions that SCPS asked Erik to find out more about his experience with PLA:
SCPS: What did you have to do to prepare for the PLA?
Erik: "First I looked over my resume and lifetime work experience in order to give myself an idea of my training courses, leadership roles in organizations, and credentials that I could potentially submit as documentation for the PLA portfolio. I then reviewed college courses that would fit my experience in which I could prove competence and provide the necessary documentation in order to receive credit. One important piece of advice would be to apply for classes that you feel confident in terms of writing a learning narrative which can range from 6-10 pages in length and provide sufficient supportive documentation. CAEL will only grant credit for courses in which you prove competence in terms of subject matter, theory, and learning objectives for the selected course. CAEL wants to know what you have learned from your work experiences or credentials not how many years you have been practicing in your field."
SCPS: On average, how much work was involved that resulted in the equivalent of one course?
Erik: "During the PLA class, I spent about 4-8 hours a week on PLA assignments and 3-4 weeks to complete the portfolio. It takes time to collect your supportive documentation, apply it to the selected college class, and write the learning narrative."
SCPS: What would your recommendation be to someone interested in taking the PLA?
Erik: "My recommendation for someone interested in taking the PLA would be to take your time collecting your documentation and take one step at a time. This is a time consuming project. But at the same time it is extremely rewarding to be granted college credit for your experience at work and credentials in your field. This is a very empowering experience that will save you money in tuition and will allow you to complete your degree much sooner. I strongly encourage students with leadership roles in organizations such as non-profits and management positions to complete a PLA portfolio."