FAQ on How to Return to College

How should I choose a college?

  • Do you want to attend a Private or a Public college?
  • What degree do you want to pursue?
  • Do you plan on continuing further for a Master’s Degree or professional degree?
  • How much are you prepared to pay?
  • Is the college accredited?

Please contact the Degrees Work College Coach for further assistance.

What are the steps to return to college?

  • Contact the College
  • Understand admissions requirements
  • Obtain unofficial and official transcripts from all prior colleges (if you plan to transfer to different college)
  • Meet with admissions officer

Generally, the Institution’s Admissions office will review your previous transcripts to determine your transfer credits. Make sure to talk to your College Coach for details regarding how to have your transcripts evaluated for free at your particular college. 

Click on this PDF for a guide on enrolling

Click on this PDF for a guide on questions to ask an admissions counselor

Click on this PDF for guide on questions to think about when selecting a college

Click on this PDF for a guide on questions to ask your college academic advisor

Will I meet Admissions Requirements?

Understand Admission Requirements: What is the difference between "open admission" colleges and "selective admission" colleges?

  • Open Admission: These colleges require only a high school diploma or equivalent and accept students on a first-come, first-served basis as long as there is room.
  • Selective Admission: These colleges do not take all applicants. These colleges look at applicants' course work, grades, test scores, recommendations and essays.

What is the difference in the types of degrees?

Certificate Program

Certificate Programs offer a useful, concentrated study of a particular professional area. 

Diploma Program

Diploma programs are a sequence of classes focusing on both theory and practice in a particular field. They are not as broad as degree programs, and they usually concentrate on a particular area. The terms certificate and diploma are often used interchangeably. 

Associate’s Degree

An Associate’s Degree is an undergraduate degree that can be earned in two years. An Associate’s Degree program consists of three parts: general education requirements, major requirements, and electives. 

Bachelor’s Degree

A Bachelor’s Degree is a four-year degree awarded by undergraduate colleges and universities. In addition to the requirements of an Associate’s Degree, a Bachelor’s Degree goes into greater depth into both major subject area as well as additional coursework. 

Master’s or Professional Degrees

An advanced degree is awarded for the successful completion of a program that generally requires at least one year of full-time graduate-level study beyond the Bachelor’s Degree.  

What is College Accreditation?

Accreditation assures quality and adherence to academic standards and determines a school’s eligibility for participation in federal (Title IV) and state financial aid programs. Proper accreditation also is important for the acceptance and transfers of college credit and is a prerequisite for entering many graduate programs.

The most recognized and accepted type of accreditation is regional accreditation. Credits and degrees from non-regionally accredited programs are not as widely accepted. You can find out if a college or university is regionally accredited by checking out the website of the regional accrediting board for the state where it is located. Check with you College Coach for more information on understanding if a college you selected is regionally accredited. Regionally accredited colleges in Kentucky are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Regionally accredited colleges in Indiana are accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Can I get help to improve my skills before returning to college?

Admissions counselors at all institutions can help students determine how to prepare for success in college and can direct students to the appropriate classes. Contact the admissions office to determine if there are additional resources on campus that can provide assistance. 
Placement Testing: Many institutions require placement testing. The test results will be used to place you in college courses appropriate for your skill level.

Developmental Classes: Some institutions will offer and may require you to take non-credit developmental classes to be successful in credit-based college level courses.

Adult Education Centers: Eligible Kentuckians can enroll in free courses online or in an adult education center to brush up on reading, math and other subjects to prepare for college. Visit or call a local adult education center to discuss your options. For the closest center, click here

Who can help evaluate credit hours earned and previous work experience?

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) is the assessment and validation of work-based prior learning and competencies for the award of the college credit. There are two general categories of PLA: Portfolio and Testing. 

How does it work?

Prior Learning Assessment can help you determine if you are eligible to receive credit for your work experience when returning to college, thus saving you both time and money. Post-secondary institutions may use a variety of ways to determine college credit:

  • Student portfolios: individualized student portfolios or interviews
  • Employer training: employer training programs and/or professional development
  • Challenge exams: these are customized exams offered by individual colleges/departments to verify learning achievement
  • CLEP exams (College Level Examination Program): tests college material and is offered by the College Board
  • DSST Exams: test knowledge of both lower-level and upper-level college material
  • ACE (American Council on Education) National Guide to College Credit for Workforce Training: published credit recommendations for formal instructional programs offered by non-collegiate agencies.
  • ACE (American Council on Education) Military Guide: published credit recommendations for formal military training. 

Contact your Degrees Work College Coach for more information