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Class Times: Should You Pick Morning or Evening Classes?

Credit: Shutterstock / DimaBerlin

High schoolers were forced to wake up early every day, and for the most part, they did it without any issues for four years straight. However, once college comes around and the element of choice arises for class times (morning classes and evening classes) waking up early becomes a lot harder.

On the flip side, taking the route of classes later in the day is also a chore. Who wants to go to a class after they’ve already had a stressful, busy day? No one, at least willingly.

The truth is, most of what comes into deciding class times for a student revolves around their current situation. Like if they have a job, live on/off campus, or pay for their own school. Everyone is different and choosing either time for classes will affect everyone differently. With that being said, here are some pointers that may aid in your journey of class picking.

A college student waking up for their morning classes.
On average, college students wake up at 9:00 AM. Credit: Shutterstock / UNIKYLUCKK

Morning Classes (8:00 AM – 10:30 AM)

To start, if you’re a morning person, then morning classes are a no-brainer for you. To arguably most people though, they’re not sure if they’re morning people or not. So when it comes to registering for classes, and there’s a morning option, here are some things to keep in mind.

Early class leads to worse performance

A recent study focusing on 23,391 college students concluded that early morning classes led to worse performance in school. Arriving at an 8 am class is hard enough, but couple that with low sleep and a tired brain, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. The study goes on to reveal that these very early morning classes are hurting students’ grades.

Now this isn’t for every student, but it’s something to keep in mind when faced with possibly choosing that time.

They’re easier to skip

A college student snoozing their alarm before morning classes.
On average, college students go to sleep at 2:00 AM. Credit: Shutterstock / lenestan

This isn’t a benefit.

In college, every night can be a late one for any student because of their newfound freedom. However, having that freedom means it’s much more likely for a student to skip class when they wake up tired. Another factor from the study mentioned earlier is that early morning classes came with attendance decreases.

To go further, an early class doesn’t warrant enough time for students to sleep an adequate amount. The same problem is happening in high schools, too. High school boards are considering changing the start of the school day to better the students’ sleep and health.

Another part of most students’ lives that worsens their sleep is Tiktok. Don’t scroll on Tiktok too long and sleep enough. If not that, at least have regular/instant coffee or an energy drink at your disposal for those rough mornings. Trust me, you’re going to thank yourself.

If you struggle to sleep enough throughout the night, maybe the morning classes aren’t for you.

More Free Time

One sure benefit though is that morning classes give you the ability to do whatever you want in the afternoon and evening. If you wanted to go play basketball with some friends or watch a movie, you can because your evening is free! Often times I’d plan these events with my friends to do after school.

A college student working as a barista aside from class times.
One of the most common jobs for a college student is a barista. Credit: Shutterstock / Infinity Time

As mentioned earlier, students may have to pay for their own school so they’d need the time open for that, too.

Around 70% of students who are enrolled in college have a job. On top of that, if the student needs to pay for their own school and rent they’d need a consistent schedule. Having a job with consistent hours would be much more achievable if a student went to school in the morning.

Evening Classes (2:30 PM – 6:00 PM)

Under 50% of women and under 40% of men claim not to be morning people. Pretty much less than half of the population of college students are self-proclaimed “afternooners”. Unfortunately, afternoon classes are the most competitive to get into, probably because the time is the most appealing for class. Not too early, not too late.

And, research shows that students perform best in those classes. The younger you are, the longer you wait to pick classes. If you’re reading this you’re probably on the younger side which most likely means no afternoon classes for you. And if you just don’t do mornings, then there’s only one route left to go.

Without further ado, here are some reasons why or why not to choose evening classes:

Sleeping in

The most obvious of the bunch is that you’ll have the uncanny ability to sleep through the morning. Not having to worry about how late you stay up and early you wake up is a nice amenity to evening classes.

Not only that but you’re bound to perform better in school with adequate sleep. Plus, it works great if you’re a night owl who can get work done well during late nights. It works the other way, too. If you like to do school work during the morning or noon that gives you plenty of time to finish before an evening class.

Laidback Class

If your class happens to be later in the evening, those professors will more than likely be laid back. They’ve had long days of teaching, grading, reading, and being at work so they’re just as eager to leave as the students.

On Reddit, a thread shows professors discussing letting students leave class early. Most professors seem to lean towards a 10-15 min early leave time for the night classes, which is something the earlier classes don’t receive.

A college student sleeping in their evening class.
Daytime sleepiness is a very common occurrence within a college student’s day. Credit: Shutterstock / Antonio Guillem

Evening Classes can be Draining

These later classes tend to run long, over two hours long, and even over three sometimes. It’s mentally exhausting trying to stay focused and learn for that long. Not to mention, if you’ve already been doing school work during the day then it could be even more tiring.

Professors can combat this by giving breaks and making the students stretch. However, you’re still going to be in a cramped space for an extended period.

Less Flexibility for Your Evening

Basically opposite to earlier, you won’t have the freedom to do something else besides classes. That means not much time for a job, fun activity, or a decompressor, and you’re upset that you’re missing out in a classroom.

A way to fight this is to do those things in the morning, but it’s hard to do so when there are often tasks to finish, like a worksheet, before a class.

man standing holding papers in his hand with two arrows behind him pointing in different directions.
Classes are one of the biggest decisions a college student can make. Credit: Shutterstock / StunningArt

So Which Should You Choose?

As mentioned earlier, the best fit between the two options totally depends on your current situation. Context, for anything matters, and that includes what your habits are and what you enjoy doing.

Do you like hanging out with friends in the evening? If so, pick morning classes. Oh, you can’t wake up before 10:00 AM? Then evening classes probably suit you better.

Think about those things when making your schedule, and aim for what will make your life at school the best it can be. Your schedule and classes can be something that helps you, not hurt you.

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Written By

Caleb Maser is a Grand Valley State University Student studying writing and photography. Besides school, he hangs out with friends, plays various sports and video games for fun, serves at Stans Tacos, and continues to work on his first novel and take photographs.

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