Thousands could earn college credit for time on the job

By Erica Beunlin

THE COLORADO SUN

Laura Seitz spent more time in a clinic than a classroom as she learned how to become a medical assistant but still earned college credit toward her certification.

She was enrolled at Front Range Community College, but most of her practical education came at Associates in Family Medicine in Fort Collins. There, she trained with a professional on how to assist patients, give vaccines and facilitate tests for those with diabetes or the flu.

“Rather than being in classes the whole time, we got to get real life experience,” said Seitz, who took part in a medical assistant apprenticeship that secured her a job at the clinic where she still works.

Other students across Colorado are also receiving college credit for their work experience, though they’re leaning on their work history, applying what they’ve learned in careers — long and short — as credits that can accelerate their career paths moving forward.

Colorado lawmakers hope to help more students expand their career prospects by better translating work-based learning into college credit at a time when the Colorado Department of Higher Education is pushing for 66% of adults in the state to have completed a postsecondary credential, such as a degree or certificate, by 2025.

Through House Bill 1002, legislators are setting out to formalize a statewide system that two- and four-year public higher education institutions could follow in order to award students academic credit for their work experience. That approach could save working adults both time and money in completing credentials and degrees, proponents say, with additional benefits for employers needing to fill in-demand jobs in fast-growing industries.

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