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What You Need to Know Before Starting an Online Program

Making the decision to advance your education is a big step. It not only creates opportunities to expand your understanding of the professional nursing role, but it also leads to improved career prospects.

Before enrolling in an online degree program, you will want to make sure you understand the nature of the commitment required and what it takes to be successful. From forming a support team to honing your organizational and time management skills, here is what you should know and do before starting an online RN to BSN program.

Is Forming a Support Team Helpful for Students?  

Although an online program offers convenience and flexibility for busy working adults, it still often proves to be a challenging transition for many. Establishing a solid support system early on creates an ongoing source of strength, encouragement and accountability that will be critical to your long-term success.

Inform friends and family of your plans and obtain their buy-in as soon as possible. If your social circle is limited or unsupportive, consider reaching out to an academic adviser associated with the degree program.

An employer is another potential source of support. According to 2018 data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 43% of full-time students are employed, as are 81% of part-time students.

Having a conversation with your employer regarding your plans for additional education has its benefits. It shows your drive and ambition and provides you with an opportunity to discuss any scheduling changes or requests well in advance. If your employer has a tuition reimbursement program, think of the conversation as an ideal time to verify that you meet the eligibility and documentation criteria.   

What Are Some Tips to Do Well in an Online RN to BSN Program?         

Knowing what it takes to be successful gives you a distinct advantage. Consider the following tips:

Self-discipline is key. Online learning is largely a self-directed process and requires students to be proactive, detail-oriented and accountable for their actions.

Stay organized and on track. Many students find that balancing the responsibilities of school, work and family is difficult and that they must make adjustments regarding how they manage their time.

Dr. Diana Mashburn, program chair for NSU's RN to BSN program, believes organization is the answer. "Whether it is on the kitchen wall, a paper and pencil planner, or in electronic form, take the time to enter assignment due dates on a calendar. Be organized and make use of small blocks of time in case larger blocks of time to devote to schoolwork don't occur. Learn to say no and to delegate."

Reap what you sow. The overall quality of your education is frequently dependent on your own contribution and investment.

Before beginning an online program, it is wise to research not only program expectations but also the behaviors most likely to lead to a positive outcome. In addition, gaining buy-in from friends and family and reaching out to your employer about your plans goes a long way toward generating a support system and ensuring success in your educational endeavors.  

Learn more about the NSU online RN to BSN program.


Sources:

National Center for Education Statistics: College Student Employment

NSU: Dr. Diana Mashburn, Program Chair, RN-BSN Program


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