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With 32 years in the Air Force, two decades in law enforcement, and a high-profile position in the Department of Homeland Security, Erick Stone, 50, was able to earn Ashford University college credit for his experience-based learning.
Before enrolling in Ashford University's online program, Stone's formal education consisted of community college classes and military courses he took while traveling the world as an enlisted air crewman. Ashford University's Prior Learning Assessment, providing validation and undergraduate degree transfer credit, enabled him to utilize work and life experience, related training, and non-collegiate learning towards a bachelor's degree in social criminal justice.
"Prior Learning Assessment recognizes and rewards transfer students for their professional training, certificate programs or seminars, as well as personal experience that aligns with an Ashford University undergraduate course," Jodi Feikema, director of program review for Prior Learning Assessment, said. A maximum of 46 credits of combined non-traditional learning may be applied for an Ashford University Associate of Arts degree. A maximum of 75 non-traditional credits may be applied for degree completion in a bachelor's program.
While Ashford encourages students to participate in Prior Learning Assessment to earn credits, it's a rigorous, in-depth process that includes supporting documentation, documentation of contact hours, documentation of training content, and demonstrated evidence of student learning.
To receive credit for coursework taken in a non-collegiate setting, students must also submit a credit rationale paper outlining training content, how training outcomes are equivalent to college-level outcomes, and a description of what was learned. To receive credit for personal experience, students must submit a 12 to 15 page experiential essay summarizing concepts theories and principles related to learning outcomes.
"Our academic integrity is of utmost importance," Feikema said. "Erick clearly demonstrated his knowledge and successfully met all of the criteria for earning credits." She envisions that as more working adults embark on higher education degrees, Prior Learning Assessment will become increasingly popular.
"All learning counts," she said. "The college credit for real life experience initiative is gaining momentum and support from organizations such as the Lumia Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation."
Stone says his education was spread throughout multiple deployments. "I had a great opportunity to take classes in many of the 77 countries I visited and am thankful that my experience counted toward a bachelor's degree at Ashford University."
Shortly after receiving his undergraduate degree, Stone enrolled in Ashford University's master's in education program. He took online classes on his own schedule while working full time as a lieutenant colonel for the Department of Homeland Security, volunteering as an assistant coach for his son's high school football team and as a lacrosse coach at his local recreational center. He also served as an advisor to several police offices, reviewing and making recommendations on procedures and policies.
"Educating others has always been my passion," said Stone. "From working in the police academy to commanding a SWAT team and mentoring law enforcement personnel, it's been an honor to share my experience and wisdom with others. Ashford gave me the opportunity to accomplish my academic goals and become an educator."
Stone is using his master's degree as an instructor at his alma mater, where he teaches Homeland Security and Law Enforcement.
About Ashford University
Achievement belongs to all of us at Ashford University. By offering a traditional college campus as well as online degree programs, Ashford meets the diverse needs of individuals pursuing integrity in their lives and in their communities. Students may earn an associates, bachelors, or master's degree online, while campus students in Clinton, Iowa may earn a bachelor's degree. Whether on campus or online, Ashford students enjoy the same supportive community. For more information, please visit ashford.edu or call Shari Winet, Vice President of Public Relations, at 858.513.9240 x2513.