Working and going to school can be stressful, but it’s also very common. According to National Household Education Surveys of 2001, conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, 46 percent of surveyed adults participated in some sort of educational program between 2000 and 2001. Working adults were significantly more likely than unemployed adults to enroll in an educational program; 54 percent of employed adults were enrolled in an educational program, compared to only 25 percent of unemployed adults.
In many cases, adults go back to school in order to earn a degree or certificate that will allow them to advance in their current career or pursue a better career. In order to accommodate these working students, flexible programs designed for busy adults have become very popular. There are two major types of programs: night classes and distance learning programs. Both programs have their own advantages and disadvantages. If you are a working adult and you want to go back to school, you need to decide which program is better for you.
Night or evening classes are held after regular office hours, making the classes convenient for working adults. Some colleges and universities may also offer weekend classes. Night classes provide the same quality of instruction and guidance that regular day classes would offer. Students can meet with the teacher, take advantage of campus resources, and meet other students who are experiencing similar circumstances. However, adults will usually enroll in these programs as part-time students, and as a result, programs may take a while to complete. Also, although the classes are scheduled for convenient times, most adults are tired after a full day at work; some adults will simply lack the energy that class participation requires.
Distance learning programs are conducted via the Internet. Students can log into their classes at any time, from any place, making these programs incredibly convenient. Many students are able to enroll full-time and can therefore complete programs relatively quickly. However, students must take responsibility for their own education. Because they do not have set class times, they must make sure that they are participating adequately. Procrastinating is very easy with online classes, so students who are prone to procrastination are likely to experience problems. Some students may also feel isolated since they cannot connect to their classmates in the same way that they could in more traditional classes.
Whether you will benefit more from night classes or distance learning programs depends on you. If you are self-motivated or if your schedule is very busy and erratic, you will probably do better in a distance learning program. If you need more support from your teacher and fellow students, you will most likely prefer night classes.
You may also prefer a combination of night and Internet classes. Some schools allow students to take some online classes and some night classes. Some schools even offer classes that are a combination of online and night classes. Of course, in order to do this you will need to enroll in a local school; location is unimportant for distance learning classes, but night classes need to be held nearby.
Regardless of which program you chose, make sure that it is a good program. You need to confirm that the degree or certificate you will receive is the one you need; also confirm that the school is accredited. If possible, ask other alumni how they feel about the program. Also be sure to talk to the admission counselor at the schools in which you are interested; it
is their job to help you find the perfect program, so let them help.