Lehman a Rising Star in Credit for Prior Learning

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Lauren Graham, who enrolled at Lehman as an adult learner, is now pursuing a doctorate in pharmacy.

Lehman College was named a Credit for Prior Learning Equity Rising Star for its work offering credit for prior learning to adult learners, to help advance their education and shorten time needed to earn a degree.

The honor was given by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) and the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) as part of their inaugural Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) Equity Awards, established to highlight and disseminate proven strategies for making CPL more accessible and commonplace for underserved adult learners entering or returning to college.

“At Lehman College, growing Credit for Prior Learning opportunities is a college-wide effort that serves as a crucial access point for many of our students, but perhaps its most important contribution may be as a key piece of our persistence and completion strategy," said Lehman Vice President for Enrollment Management Richard Finger. "Being recognized for our efforts is a source of pride for the administrators making it happen and a badge of honor for the students on the road to graduation.”

CPL is an umbrella term for various methods postsecondary institutions use to evaluate and award credit for learning that comes from work, military, or life experiences, also known as prior learning assessment or recognition of prior learning.

Adults who earn credit for prior learning are 17% more likely to graduate than adults who do not. Despite these benefits, only about 10% of adult college students earn credit through CPL. Moreover, while CPL drives completion for all student demographics, lower-income adults, Black adult students, and community college students are even less likely to participate in CPL.

Decades of research confirm CPL’s profound yet underutilized ability to support student success. In 2020, The PLA Boost, for example, found that students with CPL save time (between nine and 14 months) and money (between $1,500 and $10,200) in earning their degrees, respectively.

"We know that today’s adult learners are looking for efficient, workforce-relevant credentials, and the 2024 CPL Equity Award winners offer promising examples of how institutions of all types can leverage CPL to meet this need for learners we have historically struggled to serve," said Demarée Michelau, WICHE president.

In an accompanying report, Closing Equity Gaps in Credit for Prior Learning: Tools and Strategies to Recognize All Learning, CAEL and WICHE detail the award winners’ approaches to closing CPL equity gaps and the outcomes they achieved. The full report is available at cael.org.