Back-to-School Checklist for Adult Nursing Students

Back-to-School Checklist for Adult Nursing Students

Does the idea of returning to school pluck you right out of your comfort zone? You’re not alone. It’s natural for an RN at any age to fear the experience of going back, as an adult, for more education. You can get into the right mindset to earn your BSN degree by being well-prepared. Here are some practical ideas that can ensure your experience going back to school is successful.

  • Create a time management plan. When you’re juggling work, school, and family, you simply can’t rely on blind faith that “it will all get done.” Identify those obligations that are set in stone (i.e. a child’s carpool) and work around them. Look for time slots you can make use of for school work – whether it’s getting up two hours earlier or delegating dinner preparation tasks to another family member. They key to success is knowing when you can be your best, then creating a time management plan that dedicates these time slots to study.

  • Come up with a planning calendar that works for you. If your smartphone calendar is your favorite technology, then use it to keep assignments straight. But many times a visual system works best – a large whiteboard or paper calendar that you can hang in plain sight, for example.

  • Set up a work station at home. The goal is to create an area in your home that allows you to minimize distractions and be productive. If possible, find a space that you can dedicate to schoolwork – then leave your computer set up and your paperwork spread out. This will minimize set-up time when you sit down to concentrate.

  • Get your family to buy in to your educational goals. Be sure to discuss with your family and loved ones the importance of undisturbed study time. Let them know exactly what they can do to help you succeed, and communicate to them how important it is to you.

  • Get the support of colleagues and supervisors at work. Your employer very likely already understands the importance of nursing education. Find out if there any structured programs in place to support you in your goal of obtaining a BSN – like tuition assistance, for example. Let your supervisor know of any scheduling conflicts that you foresee, and explain clearly your level of commitment to your educational goal.

  • Choose the right school for your goals and needs. Look for a school that uses an adult learning model, which is more flexible and supportive than programs designed mainly for young people right out of high school. Many adults returning to school find the flexibility they need through online education. Check to see if the schools you’re looking at provide an assigned student advisor, tutoring services, online librarian support, and faculty who are encouraged to communicate with you one-on-one and who care about your success.
  • Build some confidence about your writing skills. It’s been a long time since you had to write a paper – so start here, by reading up on how to overcome your fear of the process. And rest assured, you’ll find many resources online. For example, APA style (American Psychological Association) is the most recognized formatting guideline for term papers within the social sciences. You’ll find a free tutorial for APA style to help you get started.

Today’s online nursing degree programs are designed to help you develop critical thinking skills, rather than merely memorizing facts. It works like this: you read a chapter and relate what you are reading to your own experiences on the job, through weekly assignments and online discussions. And the good news is, you’ll see the difference right away when you begin taking classes. The experiences provided by American Sentinel’s online RN-to-BSN program are designed to support your professional development based on real-world nursing in today’s health care environment. This means you’ll immediately be able to apply your newly gained knowledge to your current job in a way your employer will notice – what better way to maintain your competitive edge?