Preparing for Nursing School: 10 Strategies to Get You Ready
As you look forward to the beginning of nursing school, all sorts of questions may fill your mind. Nursing school is challenging, and the unknown seems intimidating at first. How should you be preparing for nursing school? How can you set yourself up to succeed from the start?
Before nursing school even begins, there are myriad ways you can get yourself on the right track. Your time will be limited during school, so taking the intentional time now to put yourself ahead will pay dividends later.
With a nursing career comes great responsibility, so you have a lot to learn. Especially with an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program like ours at Concordia University, St. Paul, we’ll push you to become the best nurse you can be. Our program is built for students with a minimum of 60 prior college credits or a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, allowing them to finish their degree in as few as 16 months.
Knowing how to prepare for nursing school will help you achieve your goals and succeed in the ABSN program. We’ll discuss 10 steps you can take now that will help as you’re preparing for nursing school.
1. Finish Prerequisites
Before beginning in our accelerated nursing program, it’s crucial that you complete all the required prerequisite courses. You can start applying for admission to CSP when you’re taking your last semester of prerequisites, and then you’ll need to provide proof that you finished them before you begin the ABSN program.
Your prerequisites pave a path for you to understand the ABSN curriculum. They are a surefire way to ensure that students begin the accelerated BSN on the same page. Prerequisite courses also give you a taste of what to expect in the ABSN nursing curriculum, and they’ll equip you with study skills you can apply to the ABSN program.
2. Plan Your Move
Many students relocate for accelerated nursing school, and if that’s you, then you’ll want to ensure you plan out all the details before school begins. At CSP, we offer ABSN programs in both St. Paul, Minnesota, and Portland, Oregon, so we are well-versed in helping students manage relocating for nursing school.
If possible, try to visit the city where your nursing school is located ahead of time so you can visit apartments or houses. Find a spot with a short commute to the ABSN site, as you’ll be traveling to the site for simulation, skills labs as well as exams.
Once you sign a lease, set up for utilities and internet. Get these arranged before you begin classes, as you’ll need to have lights, heat, running water and internet from day one of nursing school. Also remember to arrive a few days early so you have time to unpack and settle in before you start school.
3. Get Your Finances Organized
Nursing school will challenge you enough without needing to stress about finances. It’s ideal to get your financial plan in order before you begin so you can breathe easy and focus on school.
Secure Financial Aid
The first step is getting any financial aid for tuition figured out. Complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for federal student aid. If you have any questions throughout this process, reach out to CSP’s financial aid office, and we will work together to figure out the best plan for you.
Make a Budget
Another piece of easing your financial burden is making a budget. You can use a spreadsheet or one of many great budgeting apps. Include categories such as rent, utilities, internet, childcare, food, transportation, insurance, subscriptions, healthcare and anything else unique to you. Look over your expenses, and cut out anything unnecessary that doesn’t bring value to your life. Having a plan for how you’ll manage money during nursing school will help reduce your stress.
Set Up Autopay
You can save yourself time by setting up autopay for all your bills and expenses. With autopay, you’ll ensure you make payments on time without needing to remember to do them manually. Also, some companies offer a discount with autopay, so make sure to ask about it.
4. Rally Your Support Team
Having a strong support team is essential when preparing for nursing school. Nursing school will be challenging, especially in a 16-month accelerated program like ours at Concordia St. Paul. Therefore, you’ll need people to lean on and talk with amid the stress of school.
Think about the key people in your life whom you trust. Whether it’s your parents, spouse, friends, or family, the people closest to you will want to be a part of you achieving your goals. Reach out to them ahead of time and have a conversation. Explain that you’ll be busy with school, and ask if they’ll be willing to help you during that time.
Some examples of the ways your loved ones can support you while in an ABSN program include:
- Bringing you meals
- Talking on the phone regularly
- Sending you encouraging notes
- Babysitting your kids while you study
- Taking you out to coffee
These small gestures will mean a lot to you when you’re knee-deep in studying. The encouragement from people who love you can keep you going and motivate you to not give up on your goals.
5. Find Out Your Learning Style
An important method for preparing for nursing school is to find out your ideal learning style. When you begin a hybrid accelerated nursing program, you’ll be responsible for learning much of the information independently. One of the three components of the ABSN program at CSP is online coursework, which consists of material presented through our interactive e-learning platform. You’ll be able to then tailor your specific learning techniques to your personal style.
For example, if you are a visual learner, then you may find watching videos and diagramming out your notes is helpful for you. If you learn through reading and writing, you may want to focus on reading the textbook and making a detailed study guide. If you’re an auditory learner, listening to podcasts about nursing topics may help you cement your learning.
If you’re not sure of your learning style, take an online assessment like the VARK questionnaire. Understanding your ideal learning preferences will help you create study strategies tailored to your unique abilities.
6. Start Good Habits
Now is the time to start implementing some healthy habits. By taking better care of yourself and adding beneficial daily habits into your routine, you’ll be better equipped to manage an accelerated nursing program.
Here are some simple habits you can add into your routine now to set you up for success in nursing school:
- Get on a sleep schedule with a consistent bedtime and wake-up time. Aim for 7–8 hours per night.
- Make your bed every morning. This gives you a win at the start of each day.
- Start meal-prepping one day a week so healthy foods are easy and accessible.
- Begin walking outside every day. Use this time to decompress, get some sun and exercise.
7. Prepare to Feel Overwhelmed
As you embark on an accelerated nursing journey, you may feel overwhelmed at the beginning. The pace is fast and the curriculum intense. You are not alone. Many students feel stressed trying to keep up at the start. Know that it will take some time to adjust to the demands of an accelerated program.
Expect to experiment with a variety of study methods at the beginning until something sticks. Have faith in your abilities, and give yourself grace. As you progress through the ABSN program, you’ll gain study experience and become more efficient with your time. In a few months, you’ll have a solid study plan in place, and you’ll feel more confident in your abilities. Just trust the process, and be patient with yourself.
8. Get Immunized and CPR Certified
Before beginning clinical rotations during your first semester of the ABSN program, you’ll need to be immunized for a variety of pathogens including flu, tetanus, hepatitis, COVID-19 and others. Reach out to an admissions counselor to get a list of all the required vaccinations for CSP. Taking a little time now will be well worth it.
For many nursing schools, you’ll also need to get CPR/BLS certified so you know how to care for people during cardiac arrest. It’s ideal to take the time to do this before school starts, as it’ll mean you save time later.
9. Get the Small Details Ready
There are a number of housekeeping tasks you’ll want make time for before starting nursing school. These shouldn’t require much time, so spend a few minutes to get them done early.
Once you get accepted into an ABSN program, the school will communicate with you via a school email address, so work with the program to get that set up. Keep up with this email so you can receive more information about orientation as your start date approaches.
You’ll want to make sure you have necessary nursing supplies on hand before you begin school, including:
- Penlight and nursing scissors
- School-branded scrubs
- Compression socks
- Comfortable, supportive shoes for clinicals
If you applied for ABSN program using an unofficial transcript, you’ll need to submit an official transcript to the admissions office. This will allow you to enter the program and be eligible for scholarships.
Your school will likely provide you with an ID card to gain access to the simulation labs and for identification purposes during clinical rotations. Keep your eye out for details regarding steps you’ll need to take to receive your ID.
10. Travel Somewhere
As school approaches, now is the perfect time to pack up your bags and travel somewhere enjoyable. Once nursing school is in full swing, your weekends will likely be spent studying, and you won’t have much break time.
With an accelerated BSN program like ours at CSP, we have classes during the summer term so our students can finish in as few as 16 months. That means you’ll need to work hard throughout those 16 months without much time for leisure activities or vacations.
Therefore, if you’re itching to go on a camping trip, relax on a beach or visit a new city, make the time to do it before school starts. Going on a vacation will help you unwind and have a clear mindset when you start school.
Pursue Your Passion for Nursing
Now that you know all the best strategies for preparing for accelerated nursing school, it’s time to get your dream career in motion. With nursing, every day you have the opportunity to save a life. You’ll get to comfort those in need and make meaningful contributions to your community.
At Concordia St. Paul, our accelerated BSN program will help you make the change to nursing in as few as 16 months. Our program with three start dates each year is available to those with at least 60 college credits or a non-nursing bachelor’s degree.
Using a hybrid model, we will teach you through interactive online courses, skills labs, simulation and other clinical learning experiences. When you graduate from the ABSN program, you’ll be eligible to sit for the NCLEX and earn your nursing license.
Reach out to an ABSN admissions counselor to find out how Concordia St. Paul can help you pursue your passion for nursing.