What is the Purpose of Taking Non-Credit Courses?

The purpose of taking non-credit courses will ultimately depend on the individual student. However, there are proven advantages to taking courses without earning any credits. Below explains how certain benefits impact specific types of students and academic goals.

Credit vs. Non-credit

Credit courses are designed for students who want to earn a diploma, degree or certificate. Credits can be transferred between programs. Students who take credit courses receive some type of formal assessment at the end of the term, which is usually the letter grades A, B, C, D or F. The academic world is driven by credit-granting higher learning institutions. However, the community college world offers a rich variety of non-credit instruction for students. There are standard types of non-credit classes. First, Adult Basic Education (ABE) classes cover literacy, numeracy and GED preparation. Second, Personal Enrichment (PE) classes are designed for adults who simply want to learn something new.

Third, Workforce Development (WD) classes are designed for people entering the workforce or changing careers. Workforce development is the most popular type of non-credit class at community colleges.

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What are the Benefits?

Non-credit classes offer personal development and intellectual growth opportunities. Students who participate in these courses will expand their minds and learn new information about areas of interest. These non-intensive classes give students chances to examine, analyze and research topics for fun. This type of learning experience will be very rewarding. Non-credit classes are often taken in association with a hobby, new career or volunteer work. A safe and slow enrichment course environment allows students to truly enjoy their academic experiences. Most students find that they enjoy taking these classes because they are not faced with the stress of deadlines, graded assignments and the potential academic consequences of failure. Some students, especially the retired, homemakers and the unemployed, use non-credit classes to meet new people, make friends and network. This provides exposure to community college professionals and exposure to higher learning opportunities.

Non-credit Class Examples

Career and vocational classes are quite popular. For example, a home aide basic class will prepare students to care for elderly clients in their own homes. This class is for students who want to take care of family members and for those want health care careers. A basic nutrition class will teach students about dietary needs, cultural foods, cooking techniques and kitchen sanitation. It is intended for students pursuing careers in the service, restaurant and health care fields. A family care class will introduce students to the stages of development, the best practices in supporting healthy growth and standard community and educational resources. This type of class is popular among new parents, nannies and teacher aids. A class on curriculum development will review educational philosophies, age appropriate activities and effective learning environments for children. This type of class is popular among church Sunday school teachers and parents who homeschool their children.

Bear in mind that some non-credit courses may be necessary for employment, but they can be awarded through CLEP tests and challenge exams. Learn more about the benefits of earning a college degree from the U.S. Department of Education.