The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Study finds part-time students at disadvantage

A recent study by the U.S. Department of Education has shed some light on the characteristics of part-time students, and reveals why they are at a disadvantage. Although the study was released this June, the data comes from the 2003 to 2004 academic school year. The students were classified into three groups: exclusively full time, exclusively part time and the mixed category for people who had changed their status during the school year.

The study found that the average part-time student was more likely to be female, married and financially independent. Part-time students were highly concentrated in public two-year institutions and non-degree programs, worked full time while enrolled and had a lower level of commitment to their college education. This created a reduced level of success in the part-time students when it came to degree attainment.

Lorenia Gomez, a sociology major at CSUN, is a second semester junior. A part-time student herself, she sees the disadvantage not in terms of a lack of commitment, but rather in one’s order of priorities.

“You prioritize certain things in your life,” said Gomez. “Unfortunately education doesn’t pay the bills, and my work does.”

Gomez works full time and takes about three classes per semester. She estimates that at her current rate it will take her about a year and a half to graduate. She says that the hardest part about being a part-time student isn’t so much the school workload, but rather having the time to complete her assignments.

“I don’t miss any of my classes,” said Gomez, “but there are times when I have to call in sick to work because there is a project due.”

Another pattern that emerged from the study was the part-time student that resembled a full-time student. This sub group had qualities of both types of students and was more likely to be younger, financially dependent on their families, and less likely to come from a first-generation college household. Although their background would indicate that the student was a full-timer, their approach to school proved otherwise. This sub group had a lower level of commitment to finishing school, and was more likely to take breaks from their studies.

Roxana Torres, a business management major, at the University of Phoenix, represents a minority within the study. She works full time, is a full-time student, and a full-time mother. Despite her workload, Torres agrees with the results of the study in her advantage over part timers.

“I’ll get through with school faster than a part timer would,” said Torres. “Even though [my] workload is harder to balance, it teaches you to manage your time wisely.”

Despite her skills in time management, Torres admits that she would get better grades if she were a traditional full-time student who worked less hours.

Being a part-time student doesn’t necessarily doom that group to failure. With the cost of living constantly increasing, working and attending school is becoming more of a reality for many students. And with that comes the inevitable skill of balancing both roles.

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