A Dean College student working on a laptop

Adult learners have lots of choices to make, especially when it comes to going back to school. They can either attend a full-time program or a part-time one. There are plenty of pros and cons to both, so what it really comes down to is a number of different factors, plus your own preferences, lifestyle and schedule.

Since many degree programs offer both full-time and part-time options, you just need to factor in several important variables, including the answers to these questions here.

How Much Time Do You Have?

This could be taken two different ways. Time as in "how much time do you want to earn your degree in" and time as in "how much time do you have in a day?" If you're planning on balancing work and family life, then you might not have the time for a full load of classes. Attending part-time will allow for a better work-life balance. As far as time to earn a degree is concerned, though, if you take full-time classes, you'll be able to get done much more quickly. Going part-time will take longer, but in the end, you'll still have a degree in your name, and that's what matters the most.

What About Finances?

Paying for school is often a challenge. Students, particularly adults, may not realize that they may qualify for federal student loans. If they do, then these loans can be applied to your coursework, whether you go full-time or part-time. However, those who attend full-time are typically eligible for more financial aid.

With that said, if you want to attend school without adding to your debt, then attending part-time might be the best option, since you might be able to pay for your courses in cash as you go without having the financial burden of a full-time course load. Your employer may have a continuing education program as well that could reimburse you for your class expenses.

Did You Take Study Time into Consideration?

Most people only think about the time spent in a classroom when they consider going back to school. They see that the courses each only meet once a week in the evenings and think that they can attend full-time and keep everything balanced. However, you also need to include how much time it will take to study outside of the classroom.

The rule of three tends to be the determining factor. For every credit hour that you take, you need to multiply it by three in order to see how much time you'll need to spend outside of the classroom reading, doing homework and more. This means that for a three-credit-hour class, you'll need to set aside nine hours per week for studying. Don't forget about that when you decide whether to go to a class full or part-time.

If you're an adult learner who's considering going back to school, check out our Part-Time School of Continuing Studies. Specifically designed for adult learners who want to further their education and balance their time in a classroom with their other obligations, this program offers a number of certificate and degree options. Attending full or part-time is a personal choice, so choose the course load that works best for you.