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School of Professional Studies | Trinity Experiential Lifelong Learning (TELL)

Earn College Credit for Your Prior Life Experiences

Trinity is one of a growing number of colleges and universities which are receptive to the idea of awarding credit for the learning acquired through non-college experience prior to entering or returning to the pursuit of a college degree. Such learning, frequently called prior experiential learning, may result from such activities as work experience, volunteer work, community service, travel abroad or internationally, military or Peace Corps experience, independent reading or conversations with experts. Throughout this page, we will be referring to learning that has resulted from your experience since high school and that occurred when you were not enrolled in or under the supervision of a college or university, as prior experiential learning.

If you are among these adult students who have entered or returned to college, and if you are interested in receiving credit or recognition for prior experiential learning, this information is designed to assist you to maximize the amount of credit or recognition that you might receive from Trinity.  TELL credit is available for Undergraduate students pursuing an Associate’s or a Bachelor’s degree at Trinity.

Students interested in prior learning assessment will enroll in a course, the TELL Seminar (GST 301) which is designed for students who:

  1. Have been approved by an advisor to submit a portfolio in one or more disciplines.
  2. Have been accepted into the TELL program by the School of Professional Studies.

The course will focus mainly on method; during the Seminar students will conceptualize the relationship between who they are and what they have learned, and will organize materials reflecting the acquisition of expertise in an academic discipline.

The major project of GST 301is the preparation of one or more portfolios documenting the student’s prior learning. Faculty evaluators will evaluate this portfolio for the possible awarding of credit. Successful completion of GST 301 does not guarantee that students will receive experiential learning credit. The evaluation in the seminar will reflect the students’ ability to organize and to document material and to submit assignments on time.

While experiential learning has become a major movement in higher education, the difficulties in assessing these experiences are easily recognized. The purpose of this information is to assist you step by step with the task of:

  1. Deciding whether you qualify for award of experiential credit.
  2. Preparing an application for TELL.
  3. Creating, developing and assembling a portfolio that will describe and document college-creditable skills and knowledge.

Preparing a portfolio is not an easy process, and if done correctly, it can be time-consuming. Despite the difficulty, there are a number of important benefits which will result, regardless of credit or recognition you might receive.

Once you have completed a portfolio, you will have a realistic understanding of your present levels of competence–in order to plan further educational activities leading toward a degree — as well as an understanding of the assessment procedure itself, so that you will be able to provide valid information to others in order to probe what you know and can do, suggest to others how they might proceed in their attempts to fairly and accurately evaluate you, and make informed judgments as to whether or not procedures that are being used by others are the best and most appropriate available.

These capabilities are especially important to you as you continue your education both formally and informally.


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Contact the School of Professional Studies at 202-884-9620 or by fax at 202-884-9632.
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