RU–N Among NJ Colleges Offering Veterans and Nontraditional Students Accelerated Pathway to Their Degrees

RU–N Among NJ Colleges Offering Veterans and Nontraditional Students Accelerated Pathway to Their Degrees

Photo by Shelley Kusnetz
This summer, Rutgers University–Newark (RU–N) invites military veterans and other adult learners to embark on an educational fast track toward their college degrees.

RU–N is the eighth university in a growing consortium of NJ colleges that have pledged to provide college credits for knowledge gained via qualifying military and work experience through the New Jersey Prior Learning Assessment Network (NJ PLAN).

In joining NJ PLAN, RU–N is implementing one of its key strategic goals – increasing college accessibility and affordability for nontraditional students.

“It’s a better way of working with veterans, adult learners, and others who are likely to have had formal training with sophisticated learning outcomes, but just not through an accredited college or university,” said John Gunkel, vice chancellor for academic programs and services at RU–N.

Thomas Edison State College (TESC), the lead university for NJ PLAN and long-time administrator of evaluation methods called Prior Learning Assessments (PLAs), will make its resources and services broadly available as universities determine students’ eligibility for credits through exams, reviews of certifications and licenses, and portfolio assessments.

For example, students can take an online course, “Introduction to Portfolio Development,” that will teach them to create portfolios that demonstrate their subject competencies. After completing the course, students will be assessed and receive an equivalent number of credits.

RU–N is currently developing its NJ PLAN webpage, training for faculty and staff to serve as NJ PLAN advisors, and recruitment and enrollment strategies, as the university prepares to make PLA services available for summer 2015.

NJ PLAN was announced in July 2014 by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno to express New Jersey’s commitment to higher education by helping universities pool resources and standardize best practices statewide.

“It’s really about economic and workforce development around the state,” said Marc Singer, vice provost for the Center for Learning Assessment at TESC.

RU–N’s involvement will benefit residents throughout the state, and enhance local initiatives such as the Newark City of Learning Collaborative, a network aiming to increase the number of Newark residents with postsecondary degrees, certificates, and quality credentials from 17 percent to 25 percent by 2025.