Full-Time vs. Part-Time Student: What Are the Differences?


After the overwhelming decision of what college to choose, there is yet another decision to make: choosing between being a full-time vs. part-time student. Each approach has its benefits, but what is best for you? In this article, we will list and elaborate on some of the main advantages of each decision. Let’s dive right in. 

What Is a Full-Time Student?

The most evident distinction between a full-time and part-time student is the number of credit hours taken during a semester. To be considered a full-time student, you must be enrolled in at least twelve credits (approximately four classes).

In a few words, students are typically classed as full-time if they take more than half of a regular course load.

What Is a Part-Time Student?

Part-time students attend post-secondary or graduate school on a less-than-full-time basis. Part-time students typically take 12 or fewer credit hours every semester (the equivalent of four classes). As a result, part-time students spend less time in the classroom and may have more flexibility to explore other options outside of school.

Furthermore, part-time students sometimes reside off-campus and commute to their studies during the week. As a result, they may not necessarily participate as extensively in campus culture as traditional, full-time students.

What Are the Advantages of Being a Full-Time Student vs. a Part-Time Student?


What are the benefits of being a full-time student, and why would you even consider this approach? To simplify things for you, we have listed five advantages you can consider when deciding on the best option for you. 

Financial aid

Financial aid for full-time vs. part-time students is an important factor to consider. Part-time students often receive less financial help than full-time students. One reason is that tuition is more expensive, putting full-time students in greater financial need. Another factor is that full-time students often earn less than part-time students, allowing them to pay less for education.

The FAFSA is an excellent opportunity to pay for at least some of your education expenses. Some criteria to be eligible are being a regular student, having a high school diploma, or being a US citizen.

Completing program more quickly

If your goal is to finish your studies on time and not drag the process, then enrolling as a full-timer will be your best option. The number of classes you take will determine when you’ll graduate. You can complete a bachelor’s degree with 120 credits in five years if you take 12 credits per semester. If you take 15 credits per semester, you will complete your degree in four years. So the more credits you accumulate, the sooner you graduate. And if that’s your aim, a full-time enrollment will get you what you want. 

To complete the program in time, you must have good time management skills. If you are good at managing time, you can set priorities for tasks, complete schoolwork and assignments on time, and graduate on time.

Full campus experience


Besides completing the program earlier, the best advantage you don’t want to miss out on is the campus experience. These are the years you can take advantage of and experience something new. Full-time students often have a better college experience and a range of activities they can engage in besides their classes. Many people remember their college years as a time of active social life, countless available in-campus activities, and general freedom from responsibilities. 

Keeps you motivated

Full-time students usually devote a lot of their energy to the program of study. Being constantly in class, participating in discussions with professors, and being in touch with the on-goings of the institution will keep you motivated in the long run. It will help you keep yourself engaged in your studies and ultimately make it easier for you to succeed. 

Being a full-time student allows you to focus solely on your studies without worrying about a job. Even if a full-time student works a side job, it’s typically hourly employment with nothing in the way of duties or stress. This enables the student to concentrate on learning and achieving high academic standing.


Your institution may demand full-time enrolment if you wish to live on campus. And it would be a great opportunity if you have no other place to go. Otherwise, both full-time and part-time students typically have the option of living in off-campus private accommodation.

What Are the Advantages of Being a Part-Time Student?


There is greater freedom with your schedule when you are a part-time student. As you progress through college, an open schedule enables you to put in more effort in other areas of life. When you study part-time and work, you have an opportunity to pay tuition as you go.

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Lower course load

Part-time students take fewer courses than full-time students. As your academic course load lowers, you may see that you will have more time to focus on other areas of life. A lower academic load can allow you to take your time to finish your studies without adding too much academic pressure at once. 

Extra time for personal responsibilities

Enrolling as a part-time student may provide more schedule flexibility as you pursue your degree; you may be able to continue working in a professional job or maintain other responsibilities. For example, if you care for a family member or are a parent, having a flexible schedule allows you to focus on completing your familial responsibilities while also pursuing your degree. Furthermore, working part-time can help you slow down the pace of your degree program, allowing you more time to focus on succeeding in your education.



If you wish to work while you are enrolled in school, a part-time schedule can be a viable option. You may learn time-management skills and pay some or all of your tuition and living expenses by working while in school. As a part-time student, you may have greater availability to work different shifts, which might result in additional career prospects.

Even full-time students can work, although they might need more flexible work schedules. If you attend school full-time, you may be more inclined to work after school, on the weekends, or over the holidays when you don’t have class.

Internships during the semester

Due to having more free time outside of class, you might be able to finish internships during the semester. Your internship might help you obtain practical experience if you use what you’re learning in your classes there.

You can finish internships while on break in the summer or winter if you’re a full-time student. Most of these internships are full-time, allowing you to spend whole workdays learning about the organization’s standard duties and processes.

More time for extracurricular activities

Lower course load and more free time make it possible for part-time students to succeed in pursuing extracurricular activities. This doesn’t mean that full-time students can’t participate in such activities, but part-timers can do it more frequently. So, if you have a passion you want to go after, then enrolling as a part-time student will give you the freedom to do so.

Wrapping Up

Every college-related decision has benefits and downsides, but maybe none more so than the choice between part-time and full-time study hours. The most crucial thing to keep in mind is that this choice should be based on your needs as a student. If all you aim for is graduating on time and having overall college experience, then enrolling as a full-time student would be advisable. On the other hand, if you have other non-school related responsibilities but also want to make some time for college, part-time will do the job. 

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