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Going to Nursing School as an Adult: 10 Tips to Survive

In any domain, professionals have an obligation to stay abreast of current trends in their practice. Similarly, in some cases, furthering one’s education might be mandated. 
Many would argue that education is a life-rewarding investment. However, when we, as nurses, have gotten comfortable putting in routine hours at work, adding education to the mix can be overwhelming. When family obligations and the associated finances are “thrown-in”, when learning styles have changed, going back into the education milieu can seem virtually impossible. But, it is not. 
There are ways in which, one can be successful and can survive re-entry into a nursing education program. For instance:
1. Consider financial aid resources.  Financing education is a definite hurdle. Many colleges and universities do offer scholarships based on the field of study and/or financial need. These scholarships are wonderful ways for the student to reduce debt burdens. And, in some cases the student’s unique attributes can be the basis for scholarship award. Students are advised to work with their school’s financial advisor to question if scholarships do exist, and the advisors might be able to assist in the completion of applications for these scholarships.
Effectively use financial aid resources: The US Department of Education does offer aid, and utilizing these grants and student loans can often be a necessity.
Also, scholarship options for those going back to school do exist. It might take some exploration and diligence to find these options, but they do exist, and school resource counselors might be of assistance in pointing the student in the right direction per se. Internet sites such as FinAid.org and GoingBacktoSchoolGuide.com can be of use.
Savings Accounts: It is suggested that starting a savings account early in the student’s life is a smart strategy. Investing early for education is an effective, “debt-reducing” strategy-financial planners support this practice (scholarships.com).
2. Carefully plan time for learning.  When going back to school, it is important to realize how, you, as a student effectively learn. As an adult learner, you might already know if you are an auditory learner or a visual learner.  You might know if you like study groups or note cards. Regardless, as a professional student who has a host of other obligations, it is almost vital to outline a schedule that helps you to meet your academic, professional, and personal time.  
3. Build a framework that works for you.  Depending upon the other demands in one’s life, taking a full time course load might not be a feasible option-or it might be one that sets one up for failure.    For some, depending on the other obligations, taking a part-time course load might be the better option. Taking a full-time load is not mandatory, and it is important to build a framework of professional, academic, and personal commitments that are tangible.
4. Budget time efficiently. This overlaps/relates to the importance of “building a suitable framework”—but it is important and/helpful to allot a certain time of the day for study/class work, and that scheduled time shall not be interrupted by any additional obligations.
5. Network and build relationships with other students.  If study groups are formed, it might be easier to build relationships with other adult students. But, establishing relationships with other working students who are in similar situations can be instrumental in your succeeding. Some institutions do encourage and/or offer non-traditional student organizations that might serve as an effective network.
6. Ask for help.The demands of school, personal life, and professional life are too exhausting, it is important to be “ok” in asking for help with those obligations. Similarly, if the content of coursework is not understood, or if new technology is foreign, asking for help is a key to succeeding.  
7. Remember college credits previously earned.  In some cases, credits previously earned can be applied toward the current degree. It never hurts to ask. 
8. Get extra credit.  Some standardized tests are less costly than certain college credits, and in some cases the credits might transfer over. In this case, however, it is important to consult with an academic or admissions counselor, too, about life experience or portfolio credit, which lets the student earn course credit for demonstrated college-level experience in the workplace.
9. Remember the end goal.  Yes, going back to school and taking on additional responsibilities is challenging. For some students, keeping a “bullet” list of the end goals is helpful. These goals might serve as a reminder per se of why one is going through this intense work. A framework of goals can and does serve as an effective reminder and motivator.
10. Take care of the student.  Taking care of the student or “yourself”, is imperative. It is important to make time for sleep and relaxation. This promotes rejuvenation and allows the student to efficiently get back to the grind of study and/or coursework. It supports a healthy balance.
Aside from these tips, make sure you don’t neglect your health. Juggling between work, school and family can be a major challenge but make sure you get the right amount of sleep every night. Have dinner with friends, catch up on your TV shows or even go to a spa. Don’t be afraid to take some time off – it will only help you refresh your mind and gain a lot of energy back.
American Sentinel Unviersity. (2012, May 24). Learn How Adult Nursing Students Can Overcome the Stress of Going Back to School. Retrieved March 22, 2016, from American Sentinel University: http://www.americansentinel.edu/about-american-sentinel-university/newsr...
Franklin University. (n.d.). Retrieved March 27, 2016, from Back to College Blog: Foundations for Success: http://www.franklin.edu/blog/rev-up-your-earning-power-why-a-degree-is-s...
Neuman, G. S. (2011). 4 Secrets to Success for Adults Going Back to College. Retrieved March 23, 2016, from http://www.usnewsuniversitydirectory.com:http://www.usnewsuniversitydirectory.com/articles/4-secrets-to-success-f...
Content Courtesy of nursetogether.com 
By Jennifer Ward 

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