The first time I heard of a Life Experience degree was last year when I was at the teaching agency I used to work for in Bangkok, Thailand, updating some paperwork. A ‘teacher’ (and you’ll see why I use quotation marks in a moment), told me he had just received his Life Experience degree in the mail, and now he was qualified to teach in Thailand. Not knowing what a Life Experience degree was, I asked him and was summarily enlightened. He had received his Life Experience degree for ‘the work experience and life experience he had accumulated over his 60-plus year life’. But did it, in fact, qualify him to teach in Thailand or not? And what exactly is a Life Experience degree anyway?
What Is a Life Experience Degree? – A Life Experience degree is, unsurprisingly, exactly how it sounds. For those people who don’t have a university degree, they can apply to a ‘university’ (not really a university at all) to obtain a university degree based on their experiences in life. All of their work and life experiences, work training, any certificate programs they’ve passed etc. are sent into the Life Experience University, who will then evaluate what they are worth and use them to give the applicant ‘university credits’ towards a degree. With these credits, you can earn an Associate degree, a Bachelors degree, or even a Masters degree without even having to actually go to university. Sounds bogus? Yes, it is.
In fact, it’s so bogus that at many of these places, once they’ve accepted your qualifications, you can even backdate your degree up to three months. So, you can receive a degree certificate saying you got the degree three months before you even applied for it. Quite handy for those who lied on job applications, isn’t it?
How Much Does a Life Experience Degree Cost? – The various Learning Experience ‘Universities’ differ in fee, but a Life Experience Degree can cost you upwards of $1,500. What do you get for this? A certificate
saying you have a university degree and college transcripts, upon which nowhere do they mention this is a Life Experience degree. So, it’s an expensive scam right? Yep, pretty much.
Can a Life Experience Degree Be Used For To Qualify You To Teach English in Thailand? – No, it can’t. Simple as that. No matter how much you want it to be a university degree, it isn’t. The Thai school that hires you may not know it’s a Life Experience degree but, as the Thai Immigration and Labor departments are now running checks on university degrees to see if they are genuine, you can pretty much guarantee they’ll figure out it’s a Life Experience Degree quite fast.
In fact, even though some teachers in Thailand will tell you otherwise, I know one person who lost his teaching job in Thailand when the labor department wouldn’t give him a work permit once they discovered his degree was a Life Experience degree. I’ve heard of a couple of other teachers it’s happened to as well. In fact, Thailand is becoming much stricter on qualifications for teaching with the minimum now being a verifiable legitimate Bachelors degree and a TEFL or CELTA certificate.
So, if you’re looking for a way of becoming qualified to teach in Thailand, don’t even waste your money on a Life Experience degree. They are useless for qualifying you to teach in Thailand.
Instead, why not sign up for a distance learning program, where you can take the university courses you need for a degree online and then, once a year, spend a few weeks on the university campus taking other requirement classes. Sure, it might cost you a lot more money but, in the long run, at least you’ll have a real university degree and not just an expensive piece of paper.