Myth Busters: Are You Ever Too Old to Go Back to School?

These days, it’s highly likely your employer is encouraging staff nurses to obtain a BSN degree – and is perhaps even offering generous tuition assistance or a raise to the nurses who do so.  So what’s holding you back?

One of the most common barriers nurses run up against when contemplating more education is simply a fear of going back to school and all that entails. Writing term papers. Using the computer. Fitting in with other students. This barrier usually has its roots in some version of this thought: What if I’m too old to go back to school?

So how do you overcome this barrier?

The first thing to keep in mind is that learning has no age limit. Aren’t you always learning new things on the job anyway? The fact is, adult nursing students like you actually have an advantage over younger student nurses who may be right out of high school. Think about it: you have the benefit of many years of life and work experiences. This ensures that you will immediately be able to relate to your course material. Your BSN classes will NOT present a foreign world of strange new ideas. Rather, your course work will offer new ways to view nursing practice, within the context of your current job.

With this in mind, let’s break down the fear of going back to school into specific concerns.

Academic writing is a source of anxiety for many adults who return to school.

If you’re like most nurses, you probably don’t do any kind of structured writing on a regular basis—so it’s easy to feel that an academic paper will require skills that are stressfully out of reach. You may worry about making errors in grammar, punctuation, and syntax. Or perhaps your anxiety is related to doing research—figuring out how to gather and make sense of all the data you’ll need to write a good paper.

Choosing the right nursing school with the right resources to help you through these struggles will make all the difference. You may want to start here, by reading up on how to overcome your fear of writing papers. 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.

Mid-career nurses often feel they are not as confident with technology as younger nurses.

Unfortunately, computer-phobia may be especially true when an online RN-to-BSN degree program seems to be the most flexible and affordable option. Online learning is based on using computers to participate in discussion forums, upload assignments, and use virtual libraries.

The good news is this: A great online nursing school will provide an online orientation session and several resources to assist you, such as one-on-one guidance from an advisor, webinars, and help from fellow students. Orientation will help you gain information on how to navigate an online classroom, post comments to a live discussion group, conduct academic research, and have a live chat with a success advisor. Most adult students are surprised by how easy it is to gain the confidence needed to make the computer not only a friend, but an ally.

In summary…

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. With an adult learning model, 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.