Carol Cron wanted to do things her own way. Though her parents could have sent her to college right after high school, Cron was eager to start earning money and gaining experience, so she decided to enter the workforce instead. Because of a program at University of Maryland University College that offers credit for prior learning, that decision ended up paying dividends for her—not only financially but academically as well.

In 1996, Cron took a full-time job at the University of Maryland, College Park, and in 1999, she joined the staff of the Robert H. Smith School of Business. While at UMCP, she took advantage of the tuition remission offered to university employees, enrolling in classes here and there. Cron was working gradually toward a degree, but at that point, it still seemed like a long way off. Then she discovered a program at UMUC that changed her perspective entirely.

UMUC's Workplace Learning program allows students to submit academic assignments related to their professional experience and earn up to 30 credits toward their degree. "A colleague told me about a UMUC program that grants you college credit for what you've already learned on the job," Cron said. "I was able to target specific courses and demonstrate what I had learned, and I earned the maximum. That really put me within sight of the finish line!"

Cron continued her journey toward an undergraduate degree, taking both online and on-site classes while working full-time. In 2004, she graduated from UMUC with a Bachelor of Arts in communication studies.

"I've had an amazing relationship with UMUC," said Cron. "The flexibility that UMUC offered me as an undergrad made my academic journey possible."

In January 2016, Cron enrolled in the dual MBA program—another unique UMUC program that paired her existing master's degree with the Master of Business Administration, and in December, Cron completed this program with a perfect 4.0.

"For streamlining my bachelor's degree, it had to be UMUC!" Cron said.