Broadly defined, evening classes are all college courses that occur after 5 p.m. These courses typically are geared toward nontraditional students, who are those who do not enter college directly after high school or who maintain full-time jobs during the day. Any student can take night classes, but the hours and curriculum of these programs are designed to be more accessible to those with commitments during the day.
Evening classes aim to accommodate nontraditional students in a number of ways. The first is the hours, from which evening classes get their name. By scheduling classes after 5 p.m., night classes allow students to maintain a normal routine during the day, such as going to work, and still advance their education by night.
Another way in which evening classes often are geared toward nontraditional students is through a condensed schedule. The number of hours, days and weeks that evening classes occur over can vary greatly in order to be accessible to the greatest number of students. Night classes might meet only once a week for several hours or even once every several weeks. The occurrence of these classes varies, but the total number of hours in which the class is scheduled to meet during the semester usually is the same as the more traditional classes. The exception to this is Internet classes, which often have slightly different accreditation requirements and can meet for fewer total hours than other classes.
Locations for evening classes also can vary from the norm. Traditional classes generally meet on the college campus, but evening classes can meet in other public places so that they can be more easily accessible to nontraditional students. Common locations are elementary and high schools, local government facilities and recreation centers. Some night classes will have rotating locations, so it is important to know where the class is planning on meeting each time.
Finally, night classes often are taught by adjuncts rather than traditional professors and instructors. An adjunct is a part-time employee of the college rather than being a member of its staff. Still, adjuncts must meet the same requirements as other instructors, in theory. Adjuncts often have other jobs or commitments, just like many of their students, which can lead to some adjuncts being especially familiar with the material that they are teaching and others being poorly prepared. Potential students should research what other students have said about a particular adjunct before committing to a class.
Evening classes are more accessible to nontraditional students, but they still are college classes. The workload for these classes will be the same as in a normal class setting, and the contributions required from the students are the same as well, despite the often busy lives of nontraditional students. Before deciding to take a night class, potential students should be sure that they are able to handle the requirements of the class.