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Alternative Education


Colleges and universities offer alternative education programs such as distance study, online classes and programs, credit by examination, credit for prior learning, and noncredit continuing education to meet the needs of special student groups.

Student groups who choose alternative education programs include those who are home-bound or who cannot commute to a school that meets their educational needs, those who choose to study independently, and those who wish to substitute related work or life experiences to meet certain college requirements. Many schools also offer continuing education opportunities that are open to all members of the community.

Alternative education programs vary from school to school. Contact schools directly to find out what alternative education programs they have for students.

See schools that offer this program.

Continuing Education Opportunities

Many public and private colleges and universities offer undergraduate courses to people who are not enrolled as students in a regular degree-seeking program. Courses offered vary from term to term and may be offered in smaller communities in the region. Credit and noncredit options are usually offered.

Students who take continuing education courses and ultimately plan to work toward a degree at a college should check the college's degree requirements and transfer policies.

Distance Study

Distance study programs are now available online. Many colleges, universities, and private schools offer online courses or programs of study. Some schools offer entire programs of study online, while others offer only specific courses.

Alternative Credit Programs

Alternative credit programs offer college credit for activities or classes taken outside the normal college routine. Depending on the college, advanced high school course work, testing, and prior work experience may lead to college credit. These programs cut down on the time and cost of getting a college education.

Advanced Placement (AP)

The AP program is administered by the College Entrance Examination Board. High school students may take AP (or college-level) classes during their junior and senior years. An AP exam is given at the end of each AP class. Students who pass the exam may be eligible for college credit for the course work depending on their AP scores and the policies at the college they plan to attend.

College-Level Examination Program (CLEP)

CLEP allows people to earn college credit by taking a standardized test. CLEP exams are available in many subject areas. Not all colleges award credit for CLEP. The American College Testing Proficiency Examination Program (ACTPEP) is another testing program accepted by some colleges.

Challenge for course credit

Some colleges allow students to challenge courses. If students feel they already have the knowledge or experience taught in a class, they may be able to take a test that covers the relevant content. Upon passing, students may either get credit or obtain a waiver for the class.

Credit for Prior Learning (CPL)

Paid work experience, military service, volunteer work, and self-directed learning all provide related learning experience. CPL helps to translate these experiences into academic credit. Colleges vary in their participation and in the amount of credit they give for prior learning.


West Side Area

Western Washington University