With the rising costs of education, many students today must work while attending college. Both full and part-time college students may be required to fund the costs of tuition and living expenses with jobs. This is equally true for traditional, college-age students and older adults returning to school.
Some colleges are more suitable for this type of student than others. Colleges with relatively reasonable tuition and that offer students maximum flexibility are the most appropriate for working students. Distance learning in the form of online classes is also extremely convenient for students who work full time.
Let’s look at the 25 best colleges for anyone who must work his or her way through college.
Hunter College is a branch of the City University of New York (CUNY). It has more than 20,000 students and offers both undergraduate and graduate programs.
Hunter is a good choice for working students because of its reasonable tuition and for its convenient location. Residents of New York state pay just over $5,000 per year in tuition while out of state residents pay around $11,000 per year.
Hunter College is located centrally in Manhattan, which provides ample employment opportunities. The college offers degree programs in over 170 fields of study. For students who want to live and work in one of the world’s great cities, Hunter College provides excellent value.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
For working students who wish to attend college in the Southeast, UNC-Chapel Hill is one of the best choices. It’s one of the original public Ivy League schools, meaning that it provides the quality of an Ivy League education at an affordable price.
The university, which was founded in 1795, has fourteen colleges and the College of Arts and Sciences. It offers more than 70 courses of study for undergraduates. In addition, there are over 100 masters and doctoral programs.
UNC-Chapel Hill is located in the culturally rich university town of Chapel Hill. This is a popular vacation area, which provides many potential jobs for students. For students who are looking for quality online classes. UNC-Chapel Hill provides many options. In addition to taking regular courses online, there are self-paced courses that enable students to complete the work at their own pace.
University of Iowa
The University of Iowa in Iowa City is a highly ranked public university that is composed of eleven colleges. It’s considered a Public Ivy and offers more than 100 areas of study. The university is especially renowned for its writing programs and is the home of the world-famous Iowa Writer’s Workshop.
UI also offers programs in Business, Law, Music, Dentistry, Nursing, and many other fields. One of the reasons why UI is a good choice for students working their way through college is its location. Iowa City has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the U.S. Based on 2012 data, the city has an unemployment rate of 3.5%, about half the national average.
The University of Iowa also offers many courses online. There are both instructor-paced and self-paced courses for students whose careers make it difficult to attend classes in person.
University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
The University of Michigan is the oldest university in the state, founded in 1817. It’s a highly regarded public research university that offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs in fields including nursing, social work, dentistry, law, and medicine. The university itself provides quite a few employment opportunities for students.
The Ann Arbor metropolitan area, with a population of over 350,000, also has a variety of industries, such as health care, and bio-science as well as a busy downtown district that employs many workers. The University of Michigan also offers many distance learning programs.
This private liberal arts college in Amherst, Massachusetts is consistently ranked as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the U.S. The college, which was founded in 1821, is known for its small class sizes and emphasis on giving students individual attention. It is also renowned for its flexible academic programs. The open curriculum does not require students to fulfill any distribution requirements. This allows students the freedom to design their own curricula and majors.
Such flexibility is ideal for working students, who are under pressure to synchronize their academic and work schedules. Amherst College has jobs on campus for work-study students and its website also lists off-campus jobs.
Goddard is a private liberal arts college with two campuses, one in Plainfield, Vermont, and the other in Port Townsend, Washington. It offers both undergraduate and graduate programs in fields such as Education, Psychology, Creative Writing, and Sustainability.
Its graduate programs include a Master of Arts in Education, an MA in Creative Writing, and an MA in Health Arts and Sciences. Goddard is a low residency college that attracts many older and returning students.
Students attend eight-day residencies on campus and then pursue sixteen weeks of independent study while staying in touch with faculty advisers. This model of education is convenient for people with busy lives and careers who don’t have time to attend college full time. Students are given a great deal of freedom to design their own curriculum, so this college is best suited for those who are self-motivated and clear about their goals.
NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study
An experimental part of New York University, Gallatin provides students with the freedom to design their own curriculum. NYU is one of the nation’s most prestigious universities, located in downtown New York City.
Students with existing careers or who need to obtain jobs to get through college can find the flexibility they need at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study. Both undergraduate and graduate students work closely with academic advisers to design a course of study that meets their needs and goals.
Offerings include a Writing Program, Arts Program, Interdisciplinary Seminars, and Global Study. Since Gallatin is affiliated with New York University, students can choose a wide variety of NYU courses to complete their degrees. This includes many courses that are offered online.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
UNL is a public university that is the oldest and largest in Nebraska. It offers undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as a law school. Some of its offerings include Engineering, Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources, Business Administration and Architecture.
Lincoln, Nebraska is one of the U.S. cities with the lowest unemployment rates, making it a good place for students to find jobs while attending school. UNL, being a selective public university, is also less costly than attending a private college.
The University of Nebraska has an Online & Distance Education program that offers undergraduate and graduate programs. There are both online-only options and blended programs.
This private, liberal arts college in Yellow Springs, Ohio, is both flexible and helps provide students with jobs related to their course of study. Antioch offers programs of study in fields such as Media Arts, Biomedical Science, Anthropology, Environmental Science, and many others. It also allows students to design their own majors.
Antioch also has an innovative Co-op Program that arranges paid positions for students with local, national, or international employers. This allows students to earn money while studying and also helps prepare them for a career in their chosen field.
Antioch also offers distance learning. They have several BA programs that can be completed entirely online, as well as blended programs that combine distance and face-to-face learning.
A private research university in Providence, Rhode Island, Brown is the most flexible and non-traditional of the Ivy League schools. Containing a medical school, School of Engineering and a Graduate School, Brown encourages students to pursue courses across disciplines. There are no distribution requirements, making the college convenient for working students who must plan classes around jobs or business responsibilities. While Brown has a rigorous and demanding curriculum, it’s also designed to meet the needs of students with busy lives off campus.
Being located in Providence, the capital of Rhode Island and New England’s third-largest city affords Brown students with many opportunities for finding employment in the area.
Thomas Edison State College
Thomas Edison State College is a college designed specifically for adults. Its curriculum is therefore well suited for people with jobs and careers. Their students include military veterans, mothers, mid-career professionals, and many other kinds of non-traditional students.
The school offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses and programs, as well as many opportunities for online study. They also specialize in providing academic credit for life experiences, whether on the job, in the military or by taking exams. This makes it easier to earn a degree without having to take courses in areas where you are already knowledgeable.
Eckerd College, located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, is a private college that specializes in programs of study involving nature and the environment. Its campus is on 188 acres of waterfront, giving students plenty of opportunity for recreation along with academic studies. Its programs include Environmental Studies, Biology, International Business and Marine Science.
Eckerd College also has many study abroad opportunities, and students have traveled all over the world to pursue academic work. Their Program For Experienced Learners is specially made for adult learners with other responsibilities.
Bennington College is a private liberal arts college in Bennington, Vermont. It’s especially renowned for its Master of Fine Arts writing program, which is a low residency program ideal for working adults.
Bennington also has a pre-medical program, MFA in Performing Arts and MA in Teaching a Second Language, along with many other areas of study. Bennington is one of the few colleges that actually requires its students to spend at least one term working off-campus. While this can take the form of internships, it can also be a paying job.
College of Wooster
This private college in Wooster, Ohio, is ranked by U.S News and World Report as one of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges.
It has an Independent Study Program that is quite flexible for students who are working their way through college. This program has students work closely with a faculty adviser on a thesis that prepares them for a personalized academic goal. Although the program is rigorous, requiring students to do plenty of original research, it’s also flexible enough so that busy, non-traditional students can balance classes with work.
The college also provides ample opportunities for internships as well as study abroad programs.
College of the Ozarks
College of the Ozarks is a small, private Christian college in Point Lookout, Missouri.
What makes this college unusual is that it charges no tuition at all. Students fund their education entirely through work-study and donations. This makes it an appealing choice for anyone on a tight budget who is willing to work on campus. In fact, the official nickname of the college is Hard Work U. This not only makes education affordable, it means students can look forward to graduating without any debt.
College of the Ozarks, however, is a religious institution, so it will only be of interest to students who are seeking an explicitly Christian education.
Wesleyan is a private liberal arts college located in Middletown, Connecticut. It has 40 undergraduate academic departments and eleven graduate departments in a variety of disciplines. There is a College of Social Studies, College of the Environment, Science and Mathematics, Film Studies and many other choices. There are also eleven graduate departments.
Wesleyan is a college that offers students a great deal of flexibility, as there are no required classes. They are, however, encouraged to take courses in a well-rounded variety of disciplines. The curriculum is well suited to independent-minded, non-traditional, and working students.
The New School
The New School is an innovative private college in downtown New York City. It contains several different schools, including The New School for Social Research, Parsons The New School for Design, The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, and others.
There are both undergraduate and graduate programs, and the student body is extremely diverse. There are also many opportunities for online learning, as well as many non-credit courses.
Because The New School practices what it calls a student-directed curriculum, students have the freedom to choose courses across disciplines. The New School has more than 200 innovative online learning opportunities as well. These classes are asynchronous, meaning students don’t have to log in at a specific time.
University of California, Santa Cruz
The California state university system has long been highly regarded. UC Santa Cruz has a long history of being a non-traditional college where students could mostly choose their courses and, in the past, not even worry about grades.
Today, while grades are given, there is still more of an emphasis on narrative evaluations. Many students are drawn to the Santa Cruz campus for its natural beauty, being in the vicinity of the Pacific Ocean as well as near the scenic Santa Cruz Mountains.
The city is a popular tourist spot and students have ample opportunities to find employment on or off-campus. Students can also access the online classes offered by the University of California. This is a cross-campus system, meaning that students enrolled at any UC branch can access these online courses.
This private, liberal arts college in Decatur Georgia offers undergraduate programs in Nursing, Computer Science, International Relations, and more. Its graduate programs include a pre-medical program and a Master of Arts in teaching. It has cooperative programs with other colleges as well as a program specifically tailored to non-traditional and returning students.
Agnes Scott College defines a non-traditional student as someone who works full time, has dependents or who does not have a high school diploma. This makes Agnes Scott a good choice for working students who are seeking a college that understands their needs. The college offers summer school classes online, allowing students to access the material from wherever they might be.
Charter Oak State College
Charter Oak State College is a public liberal arts college in New Britain, Connecticut that offers students many flexible ways to earn credits. It awards credits based on examinations, military training and prior learning experiences. The college also emphasizes online learning so that students may take classes at their convenience.
Charter Oak attracts many students who have taken college courses previously but have not completed their degree. It offers a flexible learning environment in which students with many responsibilities can earn their college degree. Charter Oak also offers a variety of online courses. There are five, eight, and fifteen-week courses taught by experienced faculty members.
A small private liberal arts college in Beloit, Wisconsin, Beloit College is one of the Midwest’s oldest learning institutions. The college emphasizes practical learning over purely theoretical learning. Accordingly, it encourages students to gain hands-on experience in the subjects they are studying.
Beloit College has programs in a variety of liberal arts disciplines such as Anthropology, Geology, Art History, Modern Language and Literatures and Classics. It also offers majors in biochemistry, biology, chemistry and environmental science. Beloit is a good choice for students who want to start working in their chosen profession while still studying.
Excelsior College is a private, non-profit college based in Albany, New York that offers online degrees. This fully accredited college is affiliated with the University of the State of New York and is one of the nation’s most highly regarded online universities.
Although the college actively invites older and non-traditional students to apply, it has students of all ages and from all backgrounds. It offers programs in Nursing, Liberal Arts, Business, Health Sciences, Technology, and more. In addition to the convenience and flexibility of online learning, Excelsior College is quite reasonable compared to not only traditional colleges but also other online colleges. Undergraduate credits are under $500 per credit.
Smith College is a private liberal arts college for women located in Northampton, Massachusetts. It’s part of the Five Colleges consortium that includes Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College, Hampshire College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. It’s the only women’s college in the U.S. to offer an undergraduate degree in Engineering.
Smith College also offers a wide range of majors in liberal arts, humanities, and sciences. The Ada Comstock Scholars program is designed to help non-traditional students fit college into their busy lifestyles. Students who are part of this program may take courses at any of the other four colleges in the Five Colleges consortium.
Smith offers online courses as part of their continuing education program. Online courses are either in audio or video format.
Sam Houston State University
Sam Houston State University is a public university located in Huntsville, Texas. Although it’s one of the state’s oldest colleges, it has recently established itself as one of the leading online universities. Students can take many classes and degree programs either in person or online, providing a great deal of flexibility for students who work full time.
Sam Houston State University has a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate programs. Its Bachelor’s Degrees include Accounting, Theatre, Political Science, Marketing, Nursing and Horticulture, and Crop Science.
Almost all classes can be taken online, and the college offers very reasonable tuition for virtual learning. For bachelor’s programs, credits are only $195.
Fort Hays State University
Fort Hays State University is a public university located in Hays, Kansas. This university is one of the most up to date in terms of offering students high quality online as well as in-person classes.
Fort Hays has a strong emphasis on business and pre-professional programs, such as Agriculture, Nursing, Health and Human Performance, Leadership Studies, Management, and Marketing, and many others.
The college offers 40 online degrees that are especially geared towards adult learners. Online credits for bachelor’s programs are only $182 per credit, making this a very good value for students seeking a high quality and flexible education.