As an already harried registered nurse, you might be wondering if there’s a way to further your career without the disruption and inconvenience of traditional, campus-based education. You’ve considered online education, but aren’t sure if this platform will provide you with the foundation necessary to remain competitive or provide you with the exemplary education you seek. Before you discount the experience altogether or assume you cannot find success in this unstructured environment, here are a few helpful tips and suggestions to successfully earn an online RN to BSN.
Create an Ideal Environment
Any busy parent knows that mustering the energy to complete a thought is impossible in the presence of their screaming children. Before you even crack your first book or flip on your laptop, it’s important to set up a quiet work space. It doesn’t matter if you utilize your basement, attic or spare bedroom; the point is to study and attend online class discussions in an area completely free of commotion. If it’s not possible to find a quiet area at home, consider studying at a friend or family member’s home instead; even a library or peaceful coffee shop will do.
You might already consider yourself a studious and meticulous individual, but be prepared to schedule your life down to the minute. Before the semester or school year begins, it’s important to devise a rock solid schedule, and stick to it. It may require a little maneuvering, lost sleep and even cutting back to part-time status at work, but it’s important that you carve out a large chunk of your schedule for schoolwork. Keep yourself motivated by logging every activity and appointment, no matter how seemingly minor, on a dry erase board (or another kind of visual representation). You’ll thank yourself when it’s Saturday night and the studying is already done, clothing is put away and you’re actually able to relax: all because you created a schedule and stuck to it.
Balancing Your Personal, Professional and Academic Life
Much like a traditional, campus-based education, finding a balance between your personal, work and scholastic life is integral. This process begins by having a discussion with yourself about what’s really important in your life. In this instance, it’s best to stick with the basics: work, school and family. Providing each of these facets with the attention they deserve can mean making sacrifices in other arenas. To excel at school, be prepared to give up your Saturday night poker games or that annual two weeks in Canada fishing. Remember that your RN to BSN program is temporary and the professional rewards will greatly outweigh any short-lived sacrifices.
Participate in Online Discussions and “Classroom” Debates
Much of your program will center on independent studies and hours spent pouring over textbooks. However, you may not realize that many courses require you spend hours participating in online discussions and makeshift “classrooms.” These discussions are either held through online message boards, instant messaging or even with an instructor transmitting information via a web camera. Whatever the case, it’s important to take notes, participate and get the most out of these discussions. As with a traditional classroom, the true learning occurs during debates, discussions and lectures.
Take the Experience Seriously
It’s an unfortunate fact that many students seek a degree through an online university simply because they believe it’s less rigorous than a traditional classroom environment. If this is your philosophy, prepare yourself for a huge wake-up call, because in many instances, online education is far more challenging. The instructors will expect you to read certain texts, take tests, write papers and follow deadlines. The challenge is that all of this must be done while in the comfort of your home. Imagine trying to concentrate on school work while your family is enjoying a film, or your friends are urging you to skip school and head to the beach? This is truly when your dedication to your education comes into play and why it’s important to decide if you have the moxie to succeed.
Aside from earning your RN to BSN, there are several other degree programs available through online universities, if you want to shift careers altogether. From a distant learning MBA to a Masters in Communications, if you’re ready to take your career to the next level, consider the flexibility and opportunities found in online education.