Why choose to be a part-time vs. full-time college student? The U.S.D.E. (Department of Education) took a look at how long it takes college students to complete their degrees.
According to them, less than 20% of students who were part-time from the beginning at a four-year college had earned their degree 8 years later.
Also, according to the U.S.D.E, those students studying part-time at community colleges do even worse.
Why Are Students Taking So Long to Complete Their Degrees?
Of the reasons causing college students to drop out or to take a long time to complete their degrees, there are two most common. For many, it is about money. They find the cost-prohibitive.
Others are not able to schedule their courses into their busy lives. A considerable number of college students must work to pay for their education. Quite a few have families for whom they must provide and to take care.
Part-time students who must work struggle to find courses available at times they can attend. Until recently, part-time students received very little consideration.
What Happened to Change Things?
However, once the federal statistics began to indicate that part-time students were outpacing those enrolled full-time, things started to change. This shift is anticipated to last at least through 2027.
Additional statistics highlighted just how long it takes part-time students to complete their degrees. This completion ratio got the attention of both colleges and state leaders.
They began to realize the significance of this to their individual goals. Colleges have enrollment targets to meet. States are concerned about the percentage of their residents with higher educations as this correlates to their tax base.
How Did Things Change?
Currently, a more significant number of colleges and universities are offering courses at times when more part-time students need them. Student need is taking precedence over faculty convenience or preference.
Financial aid programs are finally becoming more available to part-time students than they were in the past. Eligibility requirements have become less stringent in that regard. Support programs that have proven to help full-time students are now being offered to part-time students as well.
The ultimate change has been a significant increase in online college courses across the country. Due to the development of technology to the point that virtually any college can offer online courses, the game has changed.
You can now literally live on one coast and take online courses from a college on the other shore.
Have the Changes Been Made at Every College or University?
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Part-time students currently make up nearly 66% of students at community colleges and more than 24% at four-year colleges. Nevertheless, many campuses still ignore the needs of part-time students.
With a little bit of research, however, you can find a college that meets your needs. With online college courses granting virtually all levels of academic degrees, you are no longer restricted to a few options. The sky is the limit!
What Are Some of The Problems Remaining?
Even with a growing number of special programs to control costs, part-time students frequently feel excluded. A more severe problem is the persistent institutional efforts designed to encourage full-time enrollment.
Davis Jenkins, a senior research scholar at the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College, speaks out on this topic.
He states that college administrators frequently encourage part-time enrollees to “take their time.” All evidence indicates that this “turns out to be very bad advice,” according to Davis.
A senior-level policy analyst at the Center for American Progress, Marcella Bombardieri, authored a report on part-time students. In this report, she shared that “The longer students stay in school, the more likely they will face a family or financial crisis.”
Those family crises would frequently derail their ambitions. According to Bombardieri, going slow means “there’s just more time for things to go wrong.”
As we have often heard, “Life gets in the way.”
How Are Colleges Dealing With This Information?
In spite of this information, many colleges are supporting a national campaign to persuade their part-time students to convert to full time. How do they justify doing this?
- Because attending college full time saves money.
- It significantly increases the odds of graduating.
- Further, it allows students to realize the financial benefits of their degrees sooner.
How Is This Working Out?
Not every part-time student has the option to move to full-time status. Many have neither the money nor the time to do so. If they had, it is likely they would have done so when they first enrolled.
Focusing only this one solution will prevent many potential college graduates from completing their degrees.
Yvonne Heiskell Ward is an example of such a student. Due to family circumstances during her high school years, she was unable to pursue a college education upon graduation.
Although she ultimately was able to take a course here or there, life got in the way and she did not complete her degree.
She is now, an unspecified number of birthdays later, back in college, with the help of https://tnreconnect.gov. Read her story at https://onlinecollegelife.info/is-now-the-time-for-you-to-attend-college/
Some of the more successful colleges provide their part-time students with mentors and success coaches. Research shows that a sense of belonging is critical to retaining students.
College programs that give a sense of belonging is a plus for incoming part-time students. We are starting to see these programs being offered in some locations. A few states are also providing support in this area.
Is There Another Option?
An online college is an excellent option for many people. There are pros and cons to all points of view so you need to evaluate its suitability for you.
You can find several pertinent articles on this website dealing with ways to select an online college that meets your needs.
https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2019/2019001.pdf shows part-time enrollment outgrowing full-time enrollment