According to the National Center for Education Statistics, enrollment among part-time college students rose by 26 percent between 2000 and 2010. But six years after enrolling, 68 percent of part-time students have either dropped out or are still struggling to finish. Individuals who attend school part-time face unique challenges that make it difficult for them to complete school in four years.
Balancing Work and School
Approximately 80 percent of part-time college students between the ages of 16 and 24 work while they are enrolled in school, compared with just 45 percent of full-time students. According to the American Association of University Professors, the rising cost of a postsecondary education is a primary reason why students work while attending school. Having to balance work with classes can lead to a number of problems for part-time students. It may result in minimal face-to-face interaction with professors, diminished sense of belonging on campus and poor grades.
Balancing School and Family
Part-time students may also have to balance school with family. Students with children or those who are caring for aging parents can have a hard time completing their homework because they need to tend to their family members. These scenarios can lead to spotty attendance, late assignments and poor school performance.
Because they often have outside time commitments, part-time students may find it difficult to resist procrastination. According to Vance-Granville Community College Counseling Services, time management can be a challenge for overbooked college students, especially ones with daunting workloads. Once family members stop monitoring a student’s schedule, it becomes easy for students to neglect their schoolwork.
Solutions for Colleges
Research suggests that there are steps schools can take to help part-time students graduate. According to CompleteCollege.org, colleges should reduce the time it takes part-time students earn their diploma and restructure programs to fit students' busy lives. Schools can do this is by scheduling courses in blocks, so that students can minimize their commute time and plan outside commitments around consecutive classes.
- National Center for Education Statistics: Fast Facts
- American Association of University Professors: Understanding the Working College Student
- National Student Clearinghouse Research Center: Signature Report - Completing College
- Vance-Granville Community College Counseling Services: Time Management for College Students
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