Being a part-time college student has its benefits and drawbacks. If you are a part-time college student, you will have more time to devote to each class. However, you may not be eligible for as much financial aid as if you are taking on a full load of classes. But what is part-time in college? How many credit hours or classes should it take?

What Is Full Time in College?

To answer what is part-time in college, the first need to know the definition of full-time. Full-time students take classes for a minimum of 12 credit hours. Depending on your school, this may equal a different number of classes. Some schools offer classes that are, on average, four credit hours each. Other schools offer classes that are usually three credit hours each. So to be a full-time student, you will be taking at minimum three to four classes. The maximum number of credit hours you can take at most universities is 18 credit hours. You may be able to appeal this cap in certain scenarios, and the university will decide if you can take more classes on a case-by-case basis.

What Is Part Time in College?

To be considered part-time, college students take fewer than 12 credit hours. At some schools, you may be able to take just one class at a time. The average part-time college student takes two classes at a time.

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Benefits of Part-Time College

There are many benefits to doing college part-time. When you’re taking fewer classes, you have more time for other things. If you’re a parent, doing college part-time will help you still be there for your family well getting your education. You may also be able to work and earn money if you are you doing college part-time. Also, if you were paying for your tuition out-of-pocket, taking fewer classes costs less money. This way, you may be able to pay for college by working, without taking out student loans.

Drawbacks of Part-Time College

On the other hand, doing college part-time means that it will take you longer to finish your studies. A part-time college student may take twice as long or more to finish their education. Because of this, it can be easy to lose sight of your end goal. In fact, part-time students are actually less likely to graduate full-time students. There are also fewer scholarships available for part-time students. So making the decision to study part-time should not be a choice you make lightly.

About the Author

Rebecca Renner is a writer and editor out of South Florida. Her essays have been featured in the Washington Post, New York Magazine, and Glamour. She is working on a novel.