Attending College Part-Time vs. Full-Time

December 21, 2011 Category: College Tips

Making the decision to go to college and earn a degree is a major step that involves numerous “mini” decisions (what major to declare, which colleges and universities to apply to, specific classes to sign up for, etc.) One of these mini decisions includes determining whether to attend part-time or full-time.

Going to College Part-Time


  • Because it is not mandatory for students to enroll in college full-time, attending on a part-time basis is ideal for individuals juggling other responsibilities such as a job and/or a family.
  • Part-time status also means a less demanding workload (of course this varies from course to course and the degree program). But in general it is much easier to take on 1-2 courses at a time instead of 3 or more for most students.
  • Having a light schedule gives students the opportunity to dedicate enough time to each of their courses without feeling overwhelmed or spreading themselves too thin. In a sense, part-time status allows them to value “quality over quantity.”
  • Students not in school full-time have the chance to make money by getting a part-time or even full-time job. If they can make their work schedule mesh with their school schedule, these individuals are able to afford their education and other related expenses.College Part-Time Students


  • While being in college part-time is convenient, it is also time consuming. Many students enrolled as part-time status often take years to finally finish their degree. Recent studies even show that a larger number of part-time college students end up not completing their degree and drop out over time.
  • The longer it takes to finish a degree, the more at risk part-time students are for majoring in a field that may not have a positive outlook job-wise by the time they do graduate.
  • In some cases, part-time college students aren’t able to deduct as many education-related expenses from their income tax payments.

Going to College Full-Time


  • Needless to say, being in college full-time means the ability to knock out huge bulks of a student’s coursework each term. The more courses completed, the closer a student is to earning his/her degree and graduating in a timely manner.
  • Many scholarships and grants offer complete financial assistance for students enrolled at full-time status. Depending on the type of financial aid secured, a student can attend classes without worrying about whether they can afford their education.
  • Full-time students tend to be more directly involved with their campus community, activities and have around the clock access to resources needed to supplement their education.
  • When tax time comes around, college students enrolled full-time have a number of education related expenses they can write off.


  • Two words: burn out. Many full-time students find themselves stressed and overwhelmed due to the large amount of coursework.
  • If financial aid isn’t secured, affording college could be a constant concern since a full-time schedule doesn’t leave much room or time for a job.
  • Sometimes full-time students rely heavily on student loans so they won’t have to get a job while attending classes, which means larger debt upon graduation.

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