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Considering the Benefits of Going to College Part Time

written by: Haley Drucker•edited by: Amanda Grove•updated: 10/22/2010

Not everyone can afford to attend college full time, but a part time education is well within most people's means. The benefits of going to college part time are varied, from lower time commitment to higher salaries to a broadened worldview.

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    Part Time Education

    A college education is becoming increasingly valuable as jobs become more specialized and harder to get, and in some areas and fields it is practically required. Yet not everyone has the time and resources to put the rest of their life on hold and attend college for 2 or 4 years (or even more). Fortunately there’s another option—attending college part-time. It will take twice as long to get your degree, but the benefits of going to college part time can easily outweigh that disadvantage, particularly for adult students.

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    Lower Time Requirement

    The simplest and to many the most important advantage of a part-time education is that it leaves plenty of time to devote to other areas of your life. You can go to school while holding a job, taking care of a family, and/or doing all those other things that you don’t want to put on hold for four years. You may have to reduce your work hours or drop an activity or two, but you won’t have to make nearly as many sacrifices as you would if you planned to attend college full-time. Just the fact that you can have a job while going to school part-time means you’ll likely come away with far less in student loans and other debts than the average college student.

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    Getting a Degree for Free

    Many employers will pay for part or all of an employee’s degree, since they stand to reap the rewards of a more highly educated worker. So getting a part-time education can be a win-win situation if you’re currently working for someone else. Not only will the new degree likely result in a better job and/or higher wages, but you won’t have to break the bank to get it. And because your employer knows and approves of your school attendance, he or she will understand if you have to miss work or reduce hours on occasion to fulfill class obligations.

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    Relationship Between Work and School

    For the typical college student, what he or she learns in class is abstract and will have little use until years later. Not so for the part-time student. Particularly if you’re working and getting a degree in the same or similar fields, it will be easy to see a relationship between these two areas of your life. Things you learn in class can be immediately applied to the real world and vice versa, and contacts at school or work can come in handy on the other side as well. This is the kind of experience internships are meant to provide, and can go a long way towards making all that time spent in class worthwhile.

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    Expanding Your Worldview

    College isn’t meant to be just about careers and preparing you to make money. It’s about learning and experiencing a variety of fields and ideas, broadening your horizons and instilling a lifelong love of learning. A part-time degree can be a great way to get out of your comfort zone and everyday life and gain new information and experiences. You can make new friends, discover new interests and hobbies, and even stumble onto a new career you had never before considered.

    In this way, the benefits of going to college part time aren’t that different from the benefits of attending full time, except that a part time education is far more practical for most non-traditional students. It’s something to consider carefully and discuss with family and friends, because a college education can enrich your life in so many different ways.