Earning a nursing degree online is a great way to further your nursing career while still having time for work, family, and life in general. Self-motivation and self-discipline are the most important qualities in an online nursing student, but there are also many tips and tricks to help you succeed in your online nursing program. Here are some helpful online nursing school success strategies:
Begin Each Course on the Right Foot
Read all postings from the professor before the class begins. Pay special attention to his or her requirements (sometimes called rubrics) and all procedure modifications. For instance, if you're normally required to respond to two of your fellow students' discussion board posts, but for some weeks you are required to respond to three instead, then make a note of these requirements so you don't miss out on points.
Read all your classmates' bio postings and the professor's, even if they are familiar to you. Post a new introduction for each class so your classmates can stay updated on your life. Often, several students begin and end their online nursing classes at the same time and take classes together, so you can get to know each other well over the many weeks of coursework.
Buy your textbooks early and skim them over completely. It's nearly impossible to cover an entire textbook in six or eight weeks for an online class, but those books are packed with information. If you can, keep all your textbooks for future reference.
Reread the student handbook every six months or so. Online universities occasionally change their policies, so you need to be up to date on the latest information. Likewise, visit your online nursing school's web pages occasionally so you're aware of what's happening in their world. You're part of a bigger school system, so join in!
Online nursing students are entirely in charge of their time spent studying and completing assignments. It can be very easy to let coursework slide until the moment before it's due, especially if you find the work simple to complete. Create discipline for yourself to avoid anxiety and missed deadlines.
- Keep a calendar: Look at the calendar every day, even if you're not working on your online degree that day.
- Set up habits: There's some truth to the common wisdom that it takes 28 days to establish a habit, so work hard to reach the discipline you need to succeed as an online nursing student.
- Organize your materials and supplies: Pens, notebooks, flash drives, textbooks, and so on should be used only for college. You might find the typical college student backpack an easy way to keep your things together.
- Figure out what works for you and stick to it: Some online students find a laptop and a coffee shop with wifi is the perfect environment. Others study best at 5 a.m. before the family gets up for the day. Still others might be lucky enough to have a friend taking the same online courses. Whatever works, stick to it.
Discipline is always easy when there are no interruptions. When you or your family members get sick, when work asks you to commit to overtime, when vacations come up in the middle of a class, or when your computer dies unexpectedly, discipline will be there to see you through so you don't get off track.
Think Ahead: Get Assignments Done Before They're Due
Consistently getting your assignments done before they're due helps you immeasurably in becoming a successful online nursing student. Are discussion board posts due on Thursday? Get them done on Tuesday. Is the weekly written assignment due on Sunday? Finish it on Friday. In fact, finish next week's written assignment while you're at it.
Most online nursing courses post the entire six-week or eight-week assignment schedule before class begins. There's no reason you can't work ahead—but keep close track of your instructor's posts to spot any changes that might happen. This is especially important for final projects because ongoing assignments may be integrated into the longer paper for the end.
Even if you work ahead, maintain your study schedule. Never take a week off because you think you're in the clear—requirements can change quickly, even in online courses.
Keep an Eye on the Big Picture
Getting an online nursing degree is a commitment, both in the short term to complete each course and over the long term to complete the whole degree. Most online universities require you to take courses one right after the other with no spring break or summer vacation. That means you'll be a college student every week for two years—with a short break around the holidays.
Other opportunities or problems may come up in your life during this time. Perhaps your employer will change your work hours, or you might have a baby or move to a different city. Major life changes may make it seem impossible to finish your online nursing degree.
Once you've committed to earning your advanced nursing degree online, do everything in your power to keep that commitment. Stick to your disciplined habits, work ahead when you have time, and always remember to ask for help. Even at the very beginning, graduation is rarely more than two years away, and as you make progress it comes closer and closer.
Remember why you're taking online courses and imagine how much better life will be when you've graduated with your nursing degree. You can get it done!
Earn Your Nursing Degree Online
Skip the long waiting list for nursing school, avoid having to schedule work around difficult class schedules, and earn your advanced nursing degree without ever stepping foot in a classroom by earning an accredited nursing degree online from your choice of top ranked online nursing schools. Learn more about online nursing degree programs.