Expanding Flexible Completion Pathways
As part of a national strategy embedded in our strategic commitments, ACE is helping post-traditional learners achieve success by expanding flexible completion pathways through innovative learning.
ACE’s Center for Education Attainment and Innovation (CEAI) serves these learners by supporting extra-institutional training providers—military, government, and community-based nonprofit and corporate organizations—and promoting work-based learning practices and policies to provide affordable, high-quality, flexible completion pathways. Flexible completion pathways recognize that learning is fluid, ongoing and occurs in multiple contexts. These pathways incorporate validated learning experiences into formal workforce and postsecondary credentials.
The interview below is the fourth in a series highlighting post-traditional students who have used ACE credit recommendations as part of a flexible completion pathway.
Post-traditional Learner Spotlight: Marshall Talley
Marshall Talley, a Marine Corps veteran who currently serves in the National Guard and works in an accounting role in the hospitality industry, completed his bachelor’s degree in exercise science from the University of Wisconsin-Superior in 2016.
Talley, whose postsecondary learning journey began with military training during his first enlistment continued through his transition to civilian life when he completed a Certification in Hotel Industry Analytics and a specialized Certification in Hotel Financial and Managerial Accounting through the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI). A leader in providing hospitality educational and training resources to schools and industry professionals, AHLEI equips individuals currently working in the hospitality industry and those aspiring to a hospitality career with the knowledge needed to perform in today's fast-paced hospitality environment.
By utilizing the credit recommendations through ACE's College Credit Recommendation Service (CREDIT®) for his AHLEI training and ACE’s Military Evaluations for his military service-related training, Talley was able to apply the knowledge, skills, and competencies he acquired outside of the classroom for transfer credit toward a college degree, thus speeding up his time to completion and allowing him to advance his career.
From our conversation with Marshall Talley:
Q: What helped you decide to go to college?
A: I always knew I'd have to go to college to be more competitive in the job market. I also grew up in a time where college was stressed as a means to improve your life, learn new things, and move to different parts of the country.
Q: How did you get started at Lake Superior College?
A: The person that recommended me from LSC actually started at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. She was the McNair Scholarship Director, and that was a program I was looking at doing.
Q: What motivated you to get the certification in hotel industry analytics?
A: I pursued the Certification in Hotel Industry Analytics to help me in my job and to learn more about the hotel/hospitality industry. It was something I stumbled upon when looking through information that I had from Choice University, the internal university for Choice Hotel employees.
Q: What are some of the obstacles you have had to face in pursuing a college degree? How have you been able to overcome them?
A: I have always been my own support. I had a few mentors in the past push me to do my best, and I learned in the Marine Corps that you'd never know how far you can succeed without giving it 100 percent.
Q: How has making use of alternative educational pathways (such as ACE credit recommendations) benefited you?
A: Alternative educational opportunities are great! ACE, CLEP, and DANTES are all fantastic programs to help people get the credits they need for college. They also help those who struggle with classroom work but can do the studying at their own pace. The only downfall is that they aren't highly used or publicized to non-traditional students.
Q: What would you recommend to other adult learners thinking about returning to college to get a degree?
A: Go for it! Many employers nowadays want employees to have some kind of degree, but it's more to see that you can handle the pressure of deadlines and cutoff dates in the real world, if you haven't before. Plus, you can use your degree to change career fields if you feel the field you're in isn't for you anymore.
Q: What do you need to pay attention to when selecting a college?
A: There are many things to look at when selecting a college. You have to look at: cost, location, degrees offered, accreditation, school size, school reputation, community involvement, and travel time to the closest family for support.
Q: What do you think that colleges, employers, and other community organizations could do to help more people get postsecondary credentials that lead to good careers?
A: I think they could offer more joint programs between the company and the school or better assistance to employees, if seeking a degree to move up in the company. I know in the military we have joint programs with certain colleges and other branches to help us reach our educational and career goals.
Q: Beyond the career opportunities that an education opens up, what are other ways in which you think your college degree will be beneficial?
A: It gives me a more versatile background because of my school and life experiences that helped me earn the degree.