Frequently Asked Questions About New College LifeTrack

Prospective Student FAQs

Current Student FAQs

Prospective Students [Top]

General Questions [Top]

How do I stay in contact with my Academic Advisor?

You can contact your Advisor via email, telephone, personal letter, or personal visit. When emailing, remember to use your full name and when leaving voice-mail messages, please speak clearly and leave times that you are available for return calls.

Can I do all my coursework at a distance or do I have to come to the University of Alabama campus periodically?

You are required to come to campus only once for the Foundations of Adult Learning Seminar (orientation). Although there is no requirement after the initial three-day stay, we hope that you will plan to visit the campus as often as you can, for group weekend or summer contracts, for football games, just to stay in touch, and, of course, for graduation. Students who are able, visit campus periodically have a higher success rate than those who do not maintain that personal contact.

How many ways are there to earn credit toward my degree with the New College LifeTrack?

In addition to transferring credit from other accredited institutions, LifeTrack students can earn credit through LifeTrack faculty-designed contracts, student-designed contracts, prior learning portfolio, University of Alabama on-campus courses, and University of Alabama on-line courses.

Questions about Contracts [Top]

What is a contract?

LifeTrack offers courses that only open to LifeTrack students and we refer to these courses as "contracts" because the course is usually done in a one-on-one format between the student and the professor (on occasion LifeTrack offers Group contracts).  The agreement is between the student and the instructor and therefore is a form of contract.  There are two types of contracts:  faculty-designed and student-designed.

What is the difference between a faculty-designed contract and a student-designed contract?

A faculty-designed contract is an academic study that has already been designed for you. The learning goals, methodology for learning, academic resources and evaluation methods are pre-set. You simply contact the LifeTrack Program office and request a copy of the contract that interests you. If you decide to enroll it, just contact your Academic Advisor and ask to be "permitted" into the class. Your advisor will alert you when you have been "permitted" via email and the correct enrollment information. A student-designed contract is an academic study that you design. You are responsible for proposing and crafting the learning goals, methodology, resources and methods of evaluation for the study. Just send in your contract proposal to the LifeTrack office, and we will begin the process of locating an appropriate UA faculty member to supervise your study. You will be notified when a faculty member has been identified.

Are contracts regarded as acceptable undergraduate coursework for admission to graduate school?

Yes! Several LifeTrack Program graduates have reported that graduate schools have looked favorably upon their LifeTrack Program contract work since successful completion of an independent project reflects maturity, perseverance, and time management skills, characteristics required for graduate level work.

Prior Learning [Top]

How do I get college credit for life experiences?

Through LifeTrack, you can apply to receive college credit for the college-level learning obtained through employment, volunteer activities, hobbies, private study, and in-service training; the credit is not awarded for the students merely having the experiences. The process for applying for prior learning credit is outlined in the Prior Learning Student Guide.

How does learning from experience relate to traditional classroom learning?

Most classroom learning begins with theories or ideas; that is, it is deductive, moving from the general to the particular. Learning from experience generally occurs in the midst of work, family or recreational situations; that is, it is inductive, beginning with particular applications from which general principles can be derived.

What kind of life and work experiences would be worth college-level credit?

Many adults have had a variety of experiences from which they have acquired college-level knowledge and skills. Business people often know sales techniques, business law, bookkeeping, supervision, inventory control and/or marketing. Secretaries often know keyboarding, computer skills, business English and office procedures. People who have written a great deal often know English composition and technical writing. Many managers know consumer economics. Many people have public speaking abilities. Work with volunteer and human service organizations could lead to credit for management and/or counseling. If the knowledge and skills are at a college level, it is possible that college credit could be awarded through portfolio evaluation.

What is a portfolio?

Just as classroom instructors use exams, papers, class participation, etc., as indicators that learning has taken place, the evaluator of experiential learning must be provided with evidence of college-level learning. The evaluator of experiential learning uses the portfolio, a formal written communication, to assess learning. A prior learning portfolio is a document in which learning from various life experiences is organized into a manageable form for academic assessment.

Who awards prior learning credit?

A University of Alabama faculty member with expertise in the field that is the subject of the portfolio assesses the college-level learning demonstrated in the portfolio.

Current Students [Top]

General [Top]

Can I do all my coursework at a distance or do I have to come to the University of Alabama campus periodically?

You are required to come to campus only once for the Foundations of Adult Learning Seminar (orientation). Although there is no requirement after the initial two-day stay, we hope that you will plan to visit the campus as often as you can, for group weekend or summer contracts, for football games, just to stay in touch, and, of course, for graduation. Students who are able visit campus periodically have a higher success rate than those who do not maintain that personal contact.

How many ways are there to earn credit toward my degree with the New College LifeTrack Program?

In addition to transferring credit from other institutions, LifeTrack students can earn credit through LifeTrack faculty-designed contracts, student-designed contracts, prior learning portfolio, University of Alabama on-campus courses, and University of Alabama Independent Study courses.

Contracts [Top]

What is the difference between a faculty-designed contract and a student-designed contract?

A faculty-designed contract is an academic study that has already been designed for you. The learning goals, methodology for learning, academic resources and evaluation methods are pre-set. Your Advisor can guide you to the course contracts available each semester.  Once you decide which contract to enroll, you contact your Advisor.  Your Advisor will "permit" you for the course and contact you by email with the current enrollment procedures.  You may then enroll on the myBama.ua.edu website.  You will also pay for the enrollment on the same website. A student-designed contract is an academic study that you design. You are responsible for proposing and crafting the learning goals, methodology, resources and methods of evaluation for the study. Just send in your contract proposal to the LifeTrack office, and we will begin the process of locating an appropriate UA faculty member to supervise your study.  Once a faculty member is assigned to assist you, your Advisor will contact you with enrollment information.

How many contracts do most students take at a time?

Typically, most students enroll two or three contracts at a time, although LifeTrack Program students may enroll a maximum of 18 semester hours through UA at any given time.

Are there any contracts that do not require writing a paper?

Since this is a distance learning program, you should expect to complete papers in almost all learning contracts.

Can I sign up for more than one contract at a time?

Yes, we would encourage you to fully maximize the contract submission/response system. While you are waiting for a response from your Contract Director on one contract, you could be preparing your next submission for another contract. Make "waiting" periods work for you.

Can I stagger my contract enrollments?

Yes. The contract enrollment system is not dependent on the university's traditional enrollment cycle. You can enroll contracts anytime you wish. Initially, you may wish to enroll one contract, see how your schedule goes and then decide to add an additional contract later. The only limitation is for those students using federal financial aid.  Those students must enroll and complete course work during a semester.

Can contracts be used anywhere in my curriculum?

Yes. You may utilize faculty-designed contracts or student-designed contracts anywhere in your LifeTrack Program curriculum.

How long does it take to finish a contract?

Typically, students finish a contract within 2 to 4 months, but some students may take longer; however, all LifeTrack contracts have to be completed within 6 months from the date of enrollment.

Are contracts regarded as acceptable undergraduate coursework for admission to graduate school?

Yes! LifeTrack Program graduates have reported that graduate schools have looked favorably upon their LifeTrack Program contract work since successful completion of an independent project reflects maturity, perseverance, and time management skills, characteristics required for graduate level work.

Prior Learning [Top]

How do I get college credit for life experiences?

Through LifeTrack, you can apply to receive college credit for the college-level learning obtained through employment, volunteer activities, hobbies, private study, and in-service training; the credit is not awarded for the students merely having the experiences. The process for applying for prior learning credit is outlined in the Prior Learning Student Guide.

How does learning from experience relate to traditional classroom learning?

Most classroom learning begins with theories or ideas; that is, it is deductive, moving from the general to the particular. Learning from experience generally occurs in the midst of work, family or recreational situations; that is, it is inductive, beginning with particular applications from which general principles can be derived.

What kind of life and work experiences would be worth college-level credit?

Many adults have had a variety of experiences from which they have acquired college-level knowledge and skills. Business people often know sales techniques, business law, bookkeeping, supervision, inventory control and/or marketing. Secretaries often know keyboarding, computer skills, business English and office procedures. Some technical experience may also garner academic credit. People who have written a great deal often know English composition and technical writing. Many managers know consumer economics. Many people have public speaking abilities. Work with volunteer and human service organizations could lead to credit for management and/or counseling. If the knowledge and skills are at a college level, it is possible that college credit could be awarded through portfolio evaluation.

What is a portfolio?

Just as classroom instructors use exams, papers, class participation, etc., as indicators that learning has taken place, the evaluator of experiential learning must be provided with evidence of college-level learning. The evaluator of experiential learning uses the portfolio, a formal written communication, to assess learning. A prior learning portfolio is a document in which learning from various life experiences is organized into a manageable form for academic assessment.

Who awards prior learning credit?

A University of Alabama faculty member with expertise in the field that is the subject of the portfolio assesses the college-level learning demonstrated in the portfolio.

Is there help for students preparing portfolios?

Yes, students wishing to gain prior learning credit are advised to use the Prior Learning Student Guide for portfolio preparation. A helpful text is Earn College Credit for What You Know by Janet Colvin (5th edition, ISBN 0-7575-9691-9 through Kendall Hunt Publishing). The Prior Learning Coordinator will provide guidance and bibliographic information on other texts about portfolio development. In addition, the student's academic advisor or the Prior Learning Coordinator can provide critiques of the drafts of the various portfolio elements.

How long does the portfolio assessment take?

The amount of time needed to complete the portfolio assessment varies, but it should be completed within six weeks after it has been submitted to the faculty assessor. The length of time may increase if the portfolio is submitted just prior to scheduled campus vacations such as Christmas or Spring Break. Every effort is made to get a timely evaluation.

How many semester hours will be awarded per portfolio submission?

If the student has invested time and care in the portfolio preparation, it should elicit credit. The evaluator will recommend the number of credit hours to be awarded and that recommendation will be weighed against any credit duplication, professional hours earned and prior learning credit limits.

What are the prior learning credit limits?

There is a limit of 30 hours (1/4 of degree) prior learning portfolio credit that any one student can earn. There is also a 45 hour cumulative credit limit for all types of prior learning credit which includes ACE credit, CLEP, AP credit, DANTES credit and portfolio evaluation.

Can prior learning credit be used anywhere in my curriculum?

Prior learning credit can be placed in any of the core requirement areas, in the Depth Study or as elective credit. Portfolio credit may not be applied to the Senior Project.