Going Back to School Part-Time vs. Full Time: What Works for You?

iStock_000000267948XSmallChoosing between part-time and full-time study is a major decision for adults returning to college. There’s a whole range of personal and professional factors to consider, and it can be confusing knowing which to prioritize.

Why study full-time?
Going back to college full-time is ideal if you want to complete an intensive course of study in a short amount of time. It’s best for students hoping to gain additional qualifications quickly, whether they’re trying to improve prospects while searching for a job, or to trying to gain necessary credentials to change careers. If you’re unemployed or taking a break from work, you might want to make the most of student life and invest more time in your classes while you don’t have to worry about professional distractions.

Why study part-time?
People opt to go back to school part-time for several different reasons, but the most common deciding factors are work and family commitments. If you have young children, or need to continue earning while you study, going to school part time can give you the flexibility you’ll need. You’ll have fewer course hours each week, and can fit your studying around your schedule. Inevitably, the program will take longer, but part-time studies let you fit school in amidst life moments you may not want to miss. Work. Kids. Friends. Part-time school lets you more easily fit those pieces in.

How many hours can you realistically work in one week?
It’s easy to theorize about fitting in full-time study, your personal commitments, and part-time work, but it’s not so simple in practice. Be realistic about what you can achieve and how tired you’re going to be. Set a schedule that you’ll be able to maintain long-term, rather than working furiously at first and burning yourself out. It’s not impossible to work while studying full-time, but you will need a break sometimes. If you have other obligations like work or family, organization is key to ensuring you don’t attempt too many things at once and risk doing none of them justice. Help will always be available, but ultimately, you need to decide on a schedule — and a course of study — that works for you.

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