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Part-time studying offers opportunities

Written by James Washington


Students choose to attend school part time for many reasons. Perhaps the course of study is too much for them to handle in a full-time setting. This poses the question: Is going to school part time a blessing or a curse?

I began my college career with aspirations of graduating with a degree in biology and going to medical school.  One full semester of the required course work showed me that this was not the path I wanted to take.  It may have taken longer, but maybe if I had attempted the same course of study in a part-time setting, I would have yielded different results.

Another major variable is personal life.  People work to survive.  Education is important, but simply having a degree will not guarantee money in your pocket.  Many choose to put their job first and place education on the back burner.  Others choose to attempt a full work load along with a full-time course of study.  This may work for some, but eventually the stress of school and work can take its toll on any student.

A recent study with U.S. News shows that 47 percent of part-time students work 35 or more hours per week.  Work is important, and sometimes student loans are simply not enough to cover education expenses as well as living expenses.

The winners in this situation, without question, are part-time students.  Not everyone can shoulder the load of work and school, and going to school part time ensures that a student will have money for necessities as well as time to focus on schoolwork.

Part-time studying also allows for students to take advantage of other opportunities such as internships.  Many employers focus on hands-on training that a student has received outside of the collegiate setting, and being an intern is often the best way to receive the necessary tools for life after graduation.

One major downside, and perhaps the most notable, is that going to college part time can land you in greater debt than that of a full-time student.  With many students attending school part time, student loans will stockpile over the course of six to eight years long before interest even becomes a factor.

Another downside is obvious:  It takes a part-time student longer to graduate than one who attends school full time.  In the long run, this can be discouraging to some students, and they may choose to drop out of school.  U.S. News reports that part-time students take an average of two years longer to receive a bachelor’s degree, and the rate of bachelor’s degree completion is nearly 19 percent less than the rate of full-time students.

While part-time studying may be more time consuming in the long run, it is a wise alternative for many college students.  It is a long, grueling process, but in the end, full-time studies may not be for everyone.

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