You may have just graduated from high school and realized that you want to get a nursing degree. You’ve heard that there are job opportunities out there for those in the healthcare field. Although there are a lot of opportunities, the road to a nursing degree and a RN license is much harder than getting a degree in many other major fields. While your friends are partying or relaxing, you may be spending long hours studying at the library. However, the end result of all of this hard work and sacrifice is worth it when you get a good paying job as a RN. Here is what you need to do to get there.
First Semester – Take It Easy
Many people think college, especially community college, is going to be high school part 2. At most four year universities, college classes are going to be a lot more challenging and a lot more work. This means not taking too many units. Ideally, you should take the minimum number of units or credits to maintain full time status. In general, this is 12 credits per term for undergraduates. Having 12 credits will help you keep maximum eligibility for financial aid.
At the same time, it is a good idea to limit the number of hard science courses to just one. Lab science courses are very demanding. It’s a good idea to not try two hard science courses. Many students, including upperclassmen, have difficulty handling two lab science courses per term. Remember that you need good grades to enter into most nursing programs today. Don’t mess up by overloading.
Don’t Be Afraid to Drop Classes or Withdraw (Once)
Many students find out that they took too many classes or goofed off too much. It is OK to drop a class. It is better to take a “W” withdrawal grade rather than a C, D, or F in a core requirement for admissions to nursing school. If you are getting a B, you should probably stay as long as your overall GPA will be above 3.0.
Many schools have liberal rules about withdrawing from a term, especially when there are good reasons. Even retroactive withdrawals are possible at some schools. Many school require that students not take any finals in order to withdraw completely. Take advantage of those rights if you are struggling badly in most of your courses. In order to withdraw, you have to drop all classes including the ones you are doing well. If you are getting three Fs and one A, it’s best to drop everything.
If you drop below full time credits, you may be forced to pay back some financial aid. Contact your financial aid office before dropping below full time status (or half time status for part-time students).
Don’t Delay Taking the Science Courses Too Long
If you haven’t taken any of the science courses prior to admissions, you are probably too late. You need to show science grades in order to gain admissions to most programs. You also need the knowledge from the science courses to pass any standardized tests that are also required for admissions into nursing programs such as the TEAS.
Figure Out If Nursing Is Really Right for You
If you are getting straight Cs in science lab courses, nursing may not be right for you. A single C may be an aberration. Straight Cs or lower grades means you may not have the aptitude to survive a nursing program. You will probably struggle greatly just to pass nursing classes. It is a lot better to change majors early rather than late. Many schools limit the number of times juniors and seniors can change their majors. Changing majors late can also make it take longer for students to graduate due to having to meet the course requirements of a new major. That is why it’s best to admit defeat if the grades are low.
The Long Journey to a Nursing Degree
Nursing is a great field to get into. However, students should prepare themselves for a long and difficult slog that is a lot more challenging than classmates majoring in communications. Prepare to bail out early if struggling badly. However, embrace the challenge, the hard work, and the rewards at the end. Most graduates of nursing programs find that the journey is well worth it, especially after getting that first job offer as a RN.