Comparing evening and day classes: 8 things you need to know

The difference between night and day classes at your local community college is, well, night and day.

The adult student asks — night classes or day classes?

The Pros and Cons of Night Classes

The obvious reason is older students tend to work during the day. Night classes are just more convenient.

With this older demographic comes perspectives that are more practical and based on experience. This is especially true when it comes to subjects like business and technology. Students can often immediately apply concepts to things they already do on a day to day basis.

Furthermore, most of those attending night classes are paying for classes out of pocket. They tend to be more driven, more serious. The money is theirs to lose, not that of their parents. They understand that this is their second chance, and they’d better not screw it up.

Many times, the professors in night classes are adjuncts. A lot of them have jobs in their field during the day and teach at night for extra money. Some teach just because they enjoy it. This can be helpful, especially in certain fields. Business, accounting, marketing, economics, and technology come to mind. These professors are more in tune with the “real world” of their field. They are better prepared to communicate the topics to you in terms that connect.

But, a downside of night classes is that it is difficult to connect with fellow students. Many arrive on campus just in time to make it to class and leave immediately following. They may have commuted long distances after a hard day at work to be there. They may have families, children to attend to. They must get up early tomorrow and do it all over again. And you’re doing the same thing.

Additionally, many student services are just not available at night. At my community college, the largest system in the state, the library closed at 7 pm! Dining services were bare bones in the evening, and advisors and other staff were long gone for the day. Student activities centered around daytime students.

The final downside to night classes involves you. Are you going to be able to sustain your energy and concentration for a three-hour class after a long day at work? I had issues with this and began to rely on coffee to get through them. Of course, when I got home, I could not sleep because of the coffee.

The Pros and Cons of Day Classes

Most of these students are just out of high school and are still dependent on their parents. Prepare to have difficulty connecting with many people. You have life experiences, they do not. You have honed your work-ethic, many of them have never worked.

And, there will be frustrating behaviors that you will witness. Chronic, unexcused lateness; rampant cell phone use; forgetting to complete assignments; general apathy, etc. Group projects can be frustrating!

On the flip-side, it is generally easy to rise above the pack in just about any class. You have your adult-formed work ethic and maturity. And of course, there will always be a few smart people who stand out.

What about the professors? In day classes, they are more likely to be faculty members. For many core subjects, this can be an advantage. Courses in foreign language, English, Philosophy, history, and lower lab sciences come to mind. These professors have the classroom experience to more effectively teach these academic subjects.

And of course, most student services are available during the day. Want to meet with an advisor? Knock it out before or after your day classes. The writing and tutoring centers, libraries, computer labs, science labs, math labs? All are wide open and staffed during the day. If you are on campus during the day, you’d better be taking advantage of these things. You’re paying for them!

The key to deciding between a night or a day class depends on your own situation

The takeaway here? Think about your own situation. When do you work? Can you work at night? When are you most productive and attentive? What classes are available?

When I started school, I worked during the day and took classes at night. For classes the most interested me, and I could immediately apply to my own life and career, I thrived. Business, economics, even freshman English — I nailed these courses. For other core classes? I had trouble staying awake and developed an unhealthy reliance on coffee.

After knocking out most of the “fun” classes early on, I realized that I needed to dedicate myself full time. So, I made the switch from night to day. As a morning person, I was far more productive and attentive during the day. And when it came to some of the core classes at which I struggled? I found the availability of open labs and tutoring centers to help keep my grades afloat. Math and science did not bring me down!

Did the “kids” frustrate me sometimes? Sure. Often it was a lonely road being one of the few adults on campus during the day. But I had to put my own learning style into the equation and decide. I ended up tending bar at night to survive and to reserve my brain power. Bartending is busy, but it is fairly mindless if you don’t work in a swanky craft cocktail bar.

In summary — if your mind and body can take it, look for interesting business and technology classes at night. Business, accounting, economics, marketing, management, communications. The professors and fellow students are going to create a much better environment. If your lifestyle can take it, look for core academic classes during the day. English literature, foreign language, math, lab science, philosophy, history. Just prepare yourself to deal with the “kids!”

Cross-posted to Adult Student Resource Center — check out our tips, reviews and tools to help you become a better adult student!

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