Part-Time Studies vs. Distance Learning – Is there a Difference?

If you don’t have the necessary time or finances to study full-time, then pursuing part-time studies or distance learning can be an awesome option for you. You will have more time and flexibility but still have the chance to graduate with the qualification you want. 

Not everyone who decides to head on into the world of tertiary education chooses the route of full-time studies. This decision mostly results from either a practical or financial reason, because not everyone can afford (time-wise or money-wise) to sign up for full-time studies.

The fantastic news is that there are lots of different ways to get a tertiary qualification! Two very popular ways are the routes of studying  part-time or via distance learning – and many South African institutions offer these routes either exclusively, or alongside full-time study options. Both of these options make it possible to work while studying or have time for whatever else it is that you need to do – for example doing an internship, taking care of someone at home, or volunteering at an NGO. They also decrease the financial burden of full-time tuition fees, and often give students various payment options to choose from.

Part-Time Studies in a Nutshell

Studying part-time means that you get to study towards a specific qualification with more flexibility regarding study time and fee payments.

Like full-time students, part-time students generally also attend lectures, complete assignments, and write exams – it’s just all spread out over a longer duration with a less rigid schedule.

For example, instead of tackling your way through a 3-year full-time Bachelor degree, certain part-time programmes allow you to complete the same degree over a longer period (4 or 5 years, for example), which gives you more time to dedicate to your other daily commitments and priorities, as well as more time to finance your studies.

At most higher education institutions, part-time courses are offered in the evenings, which is ideal for students who want or need to hold a full-time day job.

The offer available for part-time qualifications, as well as the duration, cost, lecture times, and all that nitty-gritty, is specific to each institution. You will need to enquire about these details at the institution of your choice.

Distance-Learning in a Nutshell

Distance Learning, or correspondence learning, is designed for students who wish to study towards a specific qualification in their own time completely, without the standard procedure of attending lectures and classes. So, with this option, you have even more flexibility than with part-time studies.

With distance learning, you generally submit your assignments online, but most higher education institutions also provide the option for you to submit hard copies via postal services (or if you are close-by, you can drop them in person). During your studies, the only times you would have to physically go to the institution’s premises is to write exams.

So, in summary:

  • With part-time studies, you attend lectures/classes, while distance learning is purely correspondence-based (except for some admin and exams)
  • Part-time classes are usually in the evenings or at set times, while distance learning has no set study time
  • Both offer a lot of flexibility, but distance is the most flexible

Part-Time & Distance at Damelin

The choice to complete a qualification through part-time studies or distance learning has become increasingly popular. Damelin College and Damelin Correspondence are national pioneers in forming pathways to higher educational qualifications through all types of study programmes.

Damelin offers accredited degree and diploma programmes through part-time as well as distance learning programmes. Both options provide students with various payment options, such as paying per module, per semester, or managing payment over monthly payment plans.

Damelin College offers short courses in almost 30 different categories, including Management, IT, Education, and Business Administration.

For distance learning courses, Damelin Correspondence allows students to choose courses from its 6 different schools (Business, Computer, General, High School, Technical, Vocational), which means that you can complete qualifications ranging from Grade 10, 11 and 12, all the way to tertiary qualifications. For more information on Damelin Correspondence courses in specific, check out this article.

EduConnect 2cents

The fact that you have the opportunity to work while you study is awesome on so many levels. Not only do you gain work experience while you are a student (experience is sometimes more valuable than your qualification), but it can help you finance your studies without having to take on a massive student loan. You’ll need a decent amount of discipline and commitment to take on part-time or distance learning studies, but with the right mindset and the ability to ask for help when needed, you can use this opportunity to give you a great start to a successful career.

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