VARSITY ADMISSIONS AN EDUCATION BLOG

Why More College Students Are Part Time

October 02, 2011
Why More College Students Are Part Time

Many would think the typical college student is bouncing around from class-to-class, living in the dorm room, pulling all-nighters and occasionally firing up the latest lineup of Apple products.

That’s the life of the average full-time college kid and usually mom or dad – or the government – is fronting the bill. But, that’s not the case anymore.

Today, most college students are part-time students rather than full-time students, according to an article in the Washington Post. A report from the nonprofit organization Complete College America states that nearly 75 percent of college students today are part-time, juggling jobs and/or family responsibilities with college.

The increase in college tuition and the economic downturn are the two biggest factors contributing to this trend. Students and their parents simply cannot afford to pay for college as easily; so many of them are holding part time jobs to pay their way through school.

Others believe that online education has made college accessible to students of varying financial backgrounds. It is a lot easier now for students to work during the day and take night classes online than it is to attend night classes at a traditional school.

Attending college part-time might have its financial benefits; however, the ultimate outcome for students is not very promising. In most cases, it is probably best for students to just be broke for four years and earn their degree.

 The completion rate for part-time students seeking a bachelor’s degree is 24 percent (even when students are given eight years to finish), compared to 61 percent for full-time students. Also, the completion rate for part-time, two-year community college students is 8 percent (given four years to finish), compared to full-time students’ 19 percent.

However, these statistics are not representative of all states. Also, many colleges try to cover up their drop out numbers because they do not want to carry that reputation. So, these numbers could actually be worse for part-time students.

Many part-time students bounce around from college-to-college, making their credits really difficult to transfer. A lot of these students waste time taking classes that won’t count toward their graduation, making college expenses even higher.

This can also be attributed to poor or nonexistent advising for part-time students. Many colleges do not invest in advising for part-time students; so they never get a structured college or career plan.

It takes the average part-time community college student 85.5 credits to earn his/her associate’s degree, but the degree requires only 60. For bachelor’s degrees, it takes the part-time student 136.5 credits to earn a degree that only requires 120. Also, part-time students take five years, to earn a two-year associate degree, and 5.6 years to earn a four-year B.A.

Complete College America, a nonprofit organization, is dedicated to increasing college graduation rates. In a report, it recommends many changes to help students graduate: such as more flexible scheduling with year-round, shorter-termed classes, formal “completion plans” for ever student, a universal core curriculum that is transferable and capping credit hours at 120 for a bachelor’s degree and 60 for an associate’s degree.