Disadvantages of Being a Part-Time Student

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Rather than take a full load of classes, many college and graduate students choose to take only a few, making them effectively part-time, rather than full-time students. Often students choose to go to school part time to be able to maintain a job or perform other activities while still receiving an education. Being a part-time student carries with it some unavoidable disadvantages.

1 Social Isolation

One of the chief drawbacks of being a part-time student is missing out on social contact with peers. This can include personal benefits, such as making new friends, as well as professional ones, such as making new contacts among other students and teachers in your field.

2 Time to Graduate

It will always take longer for a part-time student to graduate than for a full-time student to complete the same course load. For example, if a full-time student takes four classes a semester and graduates in four years, it will take a part-time student taking half as many classes eight years. This can result in a delay in the career advancement that a degree confers on its recipient.

3 Busy Schedule

Part-time students are often forced to juggle their class schedule with another, full-time commitment, such as a job. This can make for an extremely packed schedule, leaving little time for a social life. Unless the student is extremely focused, it can limit his effectiveness at both studying and his other activity.

4 Less Chance of Receiving Degree

Part-time students are statistically less likely to graduate than full-time students. According to a study by the National Center for Education Statistics that examined part-time undergraduates who began school in 1995, 73 percent had left school without earning a degree or certificate. Among full-time students, only 28 percent had dropped out without a degree or certificate.

5 Tax Penalties

The Internal Revenue Service allows students to deduct most educational expenses from their income tax payments. However, while full-time students are assured such deductions, part-time students may face more difficulty in deducting. For example, if your tuition is being reimbursed by your employer, the classes may be considered a form of income and be taxed as such.

6 Limited Number of Programs

Not all programs accept part-time students. This is particularly true among elite institutions, which often demand that students attend full time. Therefore, part-time students have a smaller pool of programs to attend, limiting their options for the type of education they can receive.

Michael Wolfe has been writing and editing since 2005, with a background including both business and creative writing. He has worked as a reporter for a community newspaper in New York City and a federal policy newsletter in Washington, D.C. Wolfe holds a B.A. in art history and is a resident of Brooklyn, N.Y.