Trinity Experiential Lifelong Learning (TELL) for Undergraduate Students

Are you interested in receiving college credit based on your life and work experience? Then Trinity’s TELL course may be just the thing to help you advance your course of study. Many adult learners returning to school have extensive life and work experience that can translate into college credit. Such experiential learning can result from work experience, service in the military or Peace Corps, community service, volunteer work, or travel abroad and may enable a student to earn college credit.

However, Trinity does not award college credit simply for years of experience. These credits must be earned and demonstrably equivalent to college level learning. Eligible students, accepted by the School of Professional Studies into the TELL program, go through a rigorous assessment of their prior learning experience in a course called the TELL Seminar (GST 301), where students conceptualize the relationship between who they are and what they have learned in their careers or life experiences that can translate into college credit. They then produce one or more portfolios with materials which document and show evidence of the student’s prior learning based on verifiable learning outcomes applicable to academic learning in the liberal arts. In other words, students prove their knowledge, skills, and competencies in the areas where they feel they have enough non-college experience to meet college credit.

Preparing a portfolio is not an easy process, and if done correctly, can be very time-consuming. And completion of the TELL Seminar does not guarantee that students will receive experiential learning credit. The seminar requires students to produce, organize, and document materials relevant to a recognized field of study and meet specific deadlines. Completion of the course and portfolio enables students to understand their level of knowledge and competence in specific areas and how it will be evaluated. Evaluation of the final product is done by faculty in the area under consideration who recommend whether to award credit.

Students are required to demonstrate knowledge, skills, and values attained as a result of experiences and meeting certain criteria for competencies, including but not limited to the following:

  • The knowledge should be publicly verifiable. Students should be able to document and demonstrate to an expert in the field that they possess the knowledge.
  • The knowledge should be equivalent to college-level work in terms of quality. In general the prior knowledge and experience should be related to courses in the catalog or to the requirements for graduation.
  • The knowledge or experience should have an academic subject matter or knowledge base. Credit will not be given for manual skills nor for a narrowly prescribed routine or procedure.
  • The learning should have general applicability outside of the specific situation in which it was acquired. For example, credit will not be awarded for knowledge of specific personnel procedures and application which apply to only one company.  However, credit might be awarded for knowledge and experience in the principles of human resource management, of which personnel applications is one small component.