How College Students Can Earn Credits and Save Money from Prior Learning and Experiences

Along with grant writing, organizing volunteers and working with a community group to develop a culturally specific heritage garden project,Oye (Beverly) Reed-Scott reflected on her learning journey in her own community. 

Do you consider yourself a lifelong learner, but don’t yet have a college degree? If so, here’s a hot tip for you: You may be able to earn credits based on your previous life experiences and learning.

It’s called Assessment of Prior Learning (APL), and it can save undergrads money and time as they move toward getting their degree. 

Goddard College has a long history of recruiting new students who arrive with a wealth of earned experience already under their belt. Why not make it count?


Maya Macdonald came to Goddard College after three years of traveling solo and with groups in the wilderness. She logged 143 days and 2200 miles on the Appalachian Trail, 120 days and 2650 miles trek along the Pacific Crest Trail, and 5 months living and working aboard a 30 ft. sailboat including a 2000+ mile voyage. Throughout this time, she was immersed in reflecting and journaling on topics that included mental health and wellness, psychology, environmental studies, outdoor education, nutrition, and sports physiology.  

Maya Macdonald

Through lived experience, Maya found the wilderness education that she was looking for, and was able to turn that lived experience into credits toward her degree via APL.


Oye (Beverly) Reed-Scott earned credits in the humanities from working at the Chicago Daily Defender Newspaper, one of the most important newspapers for the Black community as a Community News and Events Reporter, Fundraiser and Events Planner. During that time she created and managed major projects for which she received awards, recognition, television and radio coverage. 

An editorial board meeting with theChicago Daily Defender Newspaper publisher Col. Eugene Frederick Scott, President Barack Obama, and Beverly Reed-Scott

She would file three stories per day and served as a community outreach liaison. She developed special ongoing series, organized and produced events, and worked diligently to reestablish the newspaper’s role as a true voice of the African-American community in Chicago.

She was involved in the Defender when president Barack Obama was a community organizer in Chicago.

Continuing her mission in the Chicago community, Oye earned college-level credits in Natural Sciences from completion of a certificate in composting and community gardening through the University of Illinois Extension. Along with grant writing, organizing volunteers and working with a community group to develop a culturally specific heritage garden project, Oye reflected on her learning journey in her own community. 

Oye says this about APL:

“APL offered me the opportunity to convey the work I had done in the world, more from love and commitment to my community, as a cohesive body of facts that would culminate in an award of 15 credits. Sowbel’s passion for the Assessment of Prior Learning program and her considerable ability to navigate the psyche of complicated students makes her a legendary leader in my view. It was an experience I won’t forget. If you even suspect you may have done something in the world that merits credit attend the APL workshops. You won’t regret it.” 


Luz Cruz was able to “dig deeper” into their education with sustainable farming practices on an 8-Acre Farm in Puerto Rico. Traveling across the archipelago of Puerto Rico and learning from Indigenous and Black farmers on their farms earned them APL credits in Biodiversity and Sustainability that went towards achieving their Goddard degree.  

They also earned credits for their management of non-profit organizations, and as a master composter with the NYC Master Composter Certificate Program. 


Jonah Tolchin has been making his way as a songwriter and guitarist for more than ten years. His learning includes a deep dive into the recordings and styles of Mississippi Delta masters and Chicago Blues legends. He taught himself bottleneck slide, fingerstyle blues, electric blues, bluegrass, rock, jazz, and neo-soul. He has been teaching these skills to his guitar students for years. He has performed on stages in nearly every state of the US as well as numerous countries throughout the world and his songs have been streamed over 30 million times on Spotify alone in over 90 countries.

Why not earn some credit for this work? Jonah’s writing about his intentional practice as a self-starting musician/entrepreneur has given him a jumpstart on his college degree. 


As shown by these stories, it’s definitely worth reflecting deeply on your prior learning experiences, through the Assessment of Prior Learning.

Yes, students save time and money, if awarded credits through APL, but it is also an opportunity to create a document you can share with friends, family, community and future employers. Organizing and reflecting upon prior college-level learning and skills is a perfect way to embark on your self-designed undergraduate Goddard College degree path.

To find out more about Goddard College, APL and earning credits from your previous learning experiences, talk to an admissions counselor today.

Important Announcement

The Board of Directors for Goddard College have made the difficult decision to close the college at the end of the 2024 Spring term.  


Current Goddard students will have the opportunity to complete their degrees at the same tuition rate through a teach-out with like-minded institution, Prescott College. Updates and scholarship funds will be available in the coming weeks and months. Information will be posted to

This will close in 0 seconds