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Traditional “brick and mortar” colleges mainly offer classes during weekdays. One of the biggest expense of going to a traditional college is the lost wages from not being able to work during the days when classes are offered. And without an income, it is hard for many students to pay rent and essential expense, even when they receive financial aid. Night schools, weekend college, and community colleges became popular in the 1990’s to cater to the adult population that needed to work while in school.

Online education started gaining momentum after 2002 and has become increasingly popular every year. One of the main reasons online degrees are now commonplace is because individuals can earn a Bachelor’s Degree while continuing to work. A growing number of students are earning an online college degree at their convenience, while they continue to be employed. According to The Online Learning Consortium, an organization devoted to advancing quality online learning, 85% of Americans enrolled in postsecondary institutions are non-traditional learners and one-quarter of U.S. students are currently taking an online class.

Can Working Improve My Performance at School?

Having a job while in college can help keep individuals focus on both school and work, but care should be taken to not overload in either arena. Courses that have real world application for students will give them a better understanding of the material. For example, if a student is pursuing a business degree, working for a company that offers experience in marketing or pricing can significantly help with understanding conceptual ideas about pricing strategies. Additionally, students can utilize information learned in the classroom at work, creating an enriched learning environment. If possible, students should try to work in a field that is similar to or complements the degree they are earning and should check with their school and employer and ask if they can receive credit for professional experience.

Should I Go to School Full Time or Part Time While I am Working?

While most students work in some capacity during college, it is always important to not bite off more than you can chew. Some individuals can function on four hours of sleep a day and seem to have superhuman abilities, but they are not the norm. The rest of the world has to have a more realistic outlook on time commitment and sustainability. Professionals who are working full time, should start with part time classes and work up to full time if they are successful with the part time load. Full-time classes are a better choice for individuals who are only working part time. Few students will have the ability to work full time and take full-time classes. While it is possible, it does not mean it is a good idea. Particularly in the beginning of one’s college journey, making good grades and maintaining a good GPA are imperative. One bad grade will always be on one’s transcript has the potential to destroy a GPA which can lead to loss of financial aid and not being able to get into a particular major.

Time management is a valuable skill and is essential to success in online education. Online students should budget around 10 hours of study time a week per class. In addition to readings and quizzes, many classes require students to post written responses to readings and other students posts three or four days a week. Students may also be assigned team assignments and other projects that can be more time-consuming. Successful students will calculate their weekly time commitment for the number of classes they are taking and for the hours they are working to make sure they are not overextending themselves.

Can I Get My Employer to Reimburse Me for School Tuition?

Some companies will help employees pay for college or other continuing education classes. These programs are sometimes offered to all employees, and some are offered only to promoted employees. They may reimburse all of a student’s tuition, only a portion,, and some only if the student makes good academic progress. These valuable employer tuition reimbursement programs vary from company to company but can offer significant assistance to some students. Check with your employer to see if they offer a program and if you qualify.