The struggle for academic integration has been another challenge many refugees and immigrants who intend to further their education face as they are compelled to start all over what they have already known or acquired in their home countries’ academic institution, or through their professional experience. SUNY Empire State College’s credit award for prior learning has come as a real solution to the academic admission problem many refugees face.
Cognizant of the need to help local and foreign students achieved their academic goals, Empire State College enables candidates or students to earn credit from prior college relevant learning and personal and professional experience to help them complete their associate or bachelor’s degree.
Speaking on behalf of the Empire State College, Eric Richard from the admission department indicated that besides the traditional procedure of credit transfer from other colleges for getting credit for what a candidate already knows, standardized exams such as, CLEP, DavTest, and DSS also help evaluators determine the level of learning already acquired. Institutions such as The American Council on Education (ACE), the National College Credit Recommendation Services (National CCRS), and the National Program on Noncolllege Sponsored play an important role in evaluating the level of learning already acquired and determining the credit award.
Other elements that are looked at in the process of awarding credit are noncredit courses, seminars attended, in-service trainings, and volunteer works.
For foreign students who hold foreign academic credentials, the institution advises that these documents be primarily translated and evaluated through specialized institutions such as the World Evaluation Service, Academic Evaluation Services, Education Credential Evaluator, and the Educational Perspective in order to ease the process of credit award.
For a good number of refugees who have left everything behind as they fled their countries, Eric said that his institution also resorts to the Individualized Expert Evaluation, which looks at work, life experience, independent reading and study of the student in order to help him or her earn credit for what he or she already knows. For example, an individual can be asked to speak or write about what he or she knows and how he/she has acquired such knowledge or learning, and then the college will use an expert in the topic to review and evaluate the learning acquired.
Many believe that the method is a golden opportunity for professional and intellectual refugees who can to the U.S. without their academic credentials and who struggle to go back to school and start all over what they have already learned and known.