What Are Night Classes? 6 Tips to Help You Succeed

Heading to class in the evening poses unique challenges for students. Learn the small changes you can make to succeed in your night classes.

portrait of Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.
by Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.

Updated August 9, 2022

Edited by Tyler Epps
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What Are Night Classes? 6 Tips to Help You Succeed
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Many college campuses are bustling during the day, with undergrads running across campus between classes and tour groups gaping at the sights. But campuses are much quieter at night. Yet most colleges don't shut down in the evening. Instead, many offer evening and night classes.

What are evening classes? And are night classes worth it? Many students graduate without ever taking a late class. But for other students, evening and night classes can pay off.

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What Are Night Classes?

Many colleges offer evening and night classes. The term "night class" might trigger visions of students crowding into classrooms after midnight. However, most colleges define night classes as any courses that start after 5 p.m.

At many schools, night classes meet once a week for a longer, seminar-style session. An evening class might meet from 5-8 p.m., for example, or from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Night classes rarely run past 10 p.m.

How Do Evening Classes Work?

Evening and night classes operate much like day classes. Students attend class, discuss course material, and complete assignments. Instead of meeting during daytime hours, these classes take place in the evening and at night.

Night classes usually appeal to different students than day classes. Often, nontraditional students and working adults enroll in night classes. These learners tend to have responsibilities during the day that prevent them from attending on-campus classes until the evening.

Community colleges and schools with large populations of adult students typically offer more late classes.

Why Do Colleges Have Night Classes?

Colleges offer evening and night classes for many reasons. In the past, most college students enrolled full time and attended college classes during the day. But a growing number of students attend college later in life or balance school with work.

For example, 40% of full-time undergraduates and 74% of part-time undergrads worked while in school in 2020, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Night classes appeal to these nontraditional learners. Whether they're fitting in classes around work or finding time for school in between caregiver responsibilities, these students are more likely to take night classes.

Evening classes offer another benefit to colleges — on many campuses, classroom space is at a premium during the day. Evening classes make it easier to teach more students without running out of classrooms.

6 Tips to Succeed in Night Classes

What's the best way to do well in a night class? Many college students have never taken classes in the evening, and adapting to night classes can take time. These six tips can help you succeed in your night classes.

1  Adjust Your Schedule

First, you'll need to adjust your schedule. That might mean going to bed earlier the night before your late class to make sure you're rested. It can also mean setting aside time between work and your night class for a meal or to review your materials.

Many students assume it's easy to fit in night classes, especially if the class only meets once per week. But making adjustments can help you stay focused during longer evening classes.

2  Participate in Class

Ideally, you should participate in class regardless of the meeting time. However, there are good reasons to prioritize participation in night classes. Staying engaged in the class will improve your focus. It can also help you connect with other students.

Participation often boosts your grade, too.

Jumping into class discussions may come easily to some students, while others may struggle. If you have a hard time joining class discussions, consider writing down thoughts, questions, or ideas before class. Bring a quote from the reading that stood out, or look for opportunities to ask a follow-up question.

3  Bring Water and Snacks

Most college students are used to one-hour classes. And many have never taken a three-hour class. But evening classes are generally longer than day classes. That means you need to plan ahead when it comes to hydration and food.

Plan to bring water and some healthy snacks or even a light meal to class. Ask your professor about their policies for eating in class — most are OK with students eating during a night class. If not, these longer classes typically include a break when you can snack.

4  Connect with Classmates

Connecting with your fellow students can help you succeed in night classes. These classes are often smaller than day classes, meaning you'll have more opportunities to engage and make friends with classmates.

Your fellow students can also help you stay focused, understand the material, and prepare for exams. Making friends in class offers another benefit for late-night learners. Commuting students can walk to the parking lot together when class lets out after dark.

5  Prioritize Sleep

Night classes can disrupt your normal routines. And when you get out of class late in the evening, it can disrupt your sleep schedule.

Create routines to prioritize sleep after a late class. Consider avoiding electronic devices between class and bedtime. You can also try calming activities like drinking tea, stretching, or doing breathing exercises to prepare for a restful night of sleep.

6  Consider Alternatives

Night classes are a great option for some students, but others may find it difficult to focus late in the day. If you're struggling to stay awake in night classes, consider alternatives.

Many colleges offer weekend classes in addition to evening classes. You can also research online course options at your school. An asynchronous online class lets you complete coursework at any time, from anywhere.

Should You Take a College Class in the Evening?

"Do yourself a favor and avoid night classes at all costs," recommends Harvard student Christine Lee in The Harvard Crimson blog. On the other hand, Anna M. Peters, another student, declares, "Evening classes truly are a blessing in disguise."

So are night classes bad? There are pros and cons of evening college classes. Some students hate taking classes late in the day. Others prefer evening classes because they can fit coursework around their other responsibilities.

Are night classes worth it? The answer depends on your unique circumstances. If you're working full time and want to advance your education, night classes can help you balance work with your educational goals. And if you focus better in the evenings, late classes might make more sense than early morning classes.

Before signing up for a full load of night classes, take one class to try out the format. You'll quickly learn whether late classes are worth it for you.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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