The pros and cons of day, evening, weekend and online classes

September 23rd, 2011 by rebeccac

nontraditional-students-stk162318rkeTime. It’s our best friend and worst enemy. When you need it, you never have enough of it, but when every minute seems like an hour, it doesn’t go quick enough. It’s something we’ll never have complete control over – something you just have to learn to work around.

This particularly comes into play when you’re contemplating going back to school. As a busy adult, you already have your fair share of responsibilities – work, family, friends, hobbies, etc. Do you really have time to fit in an education? The answer is yes!

Schools everywhere are offering students flexible scheduling options so that they can go back to school and not worry about having enough time. For those who can’t make the drive, there are online classes. For those that work the night shift, there are day classes. For those that work during the week, there are weekend classes. And for those that work during the day, there are evening classes.

So what are the pros and cons of these flexible class schedules? Read on to find out.

Online Classes

Online Classes: Pros

Learning at your own pace
Online classes are time-friendly because students can learn at their own pace. Some students learn faster than others and, as a result, instructors in larger, more traditional classrooms might overlook those slower paced learners. With online learning, you control how fast or slow you comprehend the material at a pace that’s right for you.

Studying when and where you choose
Just because you have time doesn’t mean that you have the opportunity to learn. Online classes allow those students who are already pressed for time the ability to take tests, study and discuss lectures all online – anywhere and everywhere. Whether you’re traveling for business, on vacation or just don’t feel like getting out of bed, online classes can give you the freedom to learn at a place and time of your choosing.

Online Classes: Cons

No face-to-face interaction
Online classes are flexible and convenient, but sometimes questions are hard to convey via an email or phone call. They’re just not as effective as sitting down one-on-one with the professor and going through the material. Although some online courses offer once-a-week, in-class discussions, not all schools provide this feature or have the means to do so.

No motivational force
Learning at your own pace was a pro, but it can also lead to a con where online learning is concerned. Since you’re following your own time table, sometimes lacking that physical classroom or professor can lead you to put off or not take online classes as seriously. Sometimes an instructor’s push is what we need.

Day Classes

Day Classes: Pros

The traditional route
Day classes have been around since schools were formed, and as a result the pros are simple. You wake up, go to class, do your homework and then have the rest of the evening free to complete any other obligations or responsibilities. It’s the way it’s been done since the beginning.

Evening family time
If your family is like most, then odds are that the time everyone is going to be around the house is the evenings, when the standard work and school hours are over, and day classes allow you to be home when they are.

Day Classes: Cons

The 8-to-5 job
Day classes are the traditional route, but for the nontraditional student, they’re not as time-friendly. Those who have full-time day jobs obviously can’t attend classes during the day and maybe can’t afford to quit said job in order to make the traditional schedule work. It’s just too inconvenient for most adult learners.

Not a morning person
Even if you don’t have a job to contend with, daytime classes may still prove way too much of a scheduling challenge. It could conflict with school drop-off, school pickup, practices and games and lessons, errands, appointments – all of the little things you have to do that add up … and can’t be done after work hours.

Weekend Classes

Weekend Classes: Pros

Avoiding the weekday dilemma
Taking classes on the weekend is an excellent way to avoid having to compromise time and travel if you work a job throughout the week. This way, you still get your education without having to sacrifice your existing weekday responsibilities.

Hit me with your best shot
Instead of stringing out subjects over the course of the week – during which you have to juggle divided attention and a string of distractions – weekend classes allow you to hit a whole cluster of learning all in one go. It might be more like three hours than one hour, but you have the advantage of sitting down and learning in one clean sweep.

Weekend Classes: Cons

The 1 vs. 2 vs. 3 rule
Weekend classes can help you avoid disrupting your normal weekday routine, but they may cause you to prolong your total time span spent in class. Weekday classes may meet 2 to 3 times each week, but the weekend is a much shorter time period. Classes often meet just once – generally on Saturdays – but they still have to cover the necessary information, so you’ll end up sitting at your desk for a longer time period.

Use it – don’t lose it
Since weekend classes only meet one time per week, students may suffer from a decline in comprehending subject material compared to traditional students who would meet 2 to 3 times throughout the week. With such a big gap between classes, students may find it more difficult to build on the material. You know what they say, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” In this case, it could be true.

Evening Classes

Evening Classes: Pros

Have your cake and eat it too
Similar to taking weekend courses, evening classes can help you dodge the 8-to-5 dilemma. Got a daytime job or other responsibilities? That’s fine! You can save the classroom for the nighttime – hit the books after the sun sets. This is especially handy if you’re working and can’t afford to quit your job in order to start school.

Scheduling freedom
A lot of times, evening classes run on the longer side, which means they often only meet once or twice a week. What does this mean for you? In addition to having your days available for work, appointments, school events or practices, you also have some wiggle room on your calendar for the later hours as well.

Evening Classes: Cons

Working the graveyard shift
Most of the world may function during the day, but there are those who work graveyard shifts. After all, gas stations, retail stores, and 24-hour convenience stores and restaurants need to have someone operating their stores during the night hours. As a result, evening classes don’t quite fit everyone’s schedule.

Busy and busier
Night classes can allow you to squeeze in that much-needed education on top of your current day job, but chances are that you’re in for a long day. You go from work to class, maybe with errands squeezed in between, and there’s still homework, too. It’s tough – but definitely doable with some juggling, a little organization and a drive to succeed.

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