Day or Night Classes for Adult Students

The languishing economy has convinced many adults to return to school to update and expand their current knowledge and skills set. The goal is to ideally use this education to either increase job security in their current occupation or to gain new employment.

Going back to school as an adult is not easy. Adults often have family responsibilities and financial obligations. Whether employed or not, the financial investment required can be an obstacle to overcome. If they work full time, adding school to an already busy schedule can be difficult.

Most colleges that want to attract adults returning to school offer day and night classes. A common question is which is better: day or night classes.

As an educator who works with adult students in more than one college environment, the question has come up more than once with students. The traditional view of adult education was that most classes catering to adults students were held at the night.

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At the time adult students were label “non-traditional students.” The non-traditional students were often treated as second-class citizens in college programs that struggled to meet the unique educational needs of this special population.

Similar programs

The field of adult education has become more popular over the years and colleges have become better equipped to provide quality educational services to adult students. In terms of parity, the day and night programs of study and classes are basically the same.

Specific considerations

In a sense, the question of whether day or night classes are best can only be answered by the individual and with consideration of the circumstances in the student’s life. No one standard other than considering the unique circumstances in the student’s life can apply to every situation. The specific considerations in determining whether day or night classes or better include:

Student expectations

Students bring expectations to the class of what they hope to gain through the class experience. Students that attend predominately at night are often more practical in their educational expectations. “Busy work” will not suffice for these students. Every assignment needs a practical rationale.

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Daytime classes are often a mixture of traditional and adult education students so the expectations of the students can vary between those fresh out of high school and those who are already in the workplace. The traditional students may need what seems to be “busy work” at times in order to accomplish course objectives, which will likely draw a negative response from adult students.

Work schedule

A student’s ability to attend day or night classes will normally depend on work schedules. Employers will work with school schedules at times, but inflexible employers can be a major obstacle for students to overcome.

Family obligations

Adult students often have families and family life cannot be put on hold indefinitely. Adults will need to determine how best to fit going back to school into their family routine.


Returning to school has become a necessity for many working adults.

The decision to go back to school is not an easy one to make. The decision of when to attend class can be just as difficult as deciding to return to school.

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The ideal plan is to gain the support of employers and family members before starting school. The buy-in of both in support of returning to school will be a major factor in determining if the student will complete the course of study.