Going back to school is a big decision, and big decisions often come with big questions and some anxiety. But, you're in luck! We've compiled a list of common concerns and, more importantly, the information you need to put your worries to rest.
Concern 1: I'm Too Old
No matter what you've heard, it's never too late to learn. You've been in nursing for years, and maybe you're looking to move into a new role. Maybe your employer has just asked you to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Or maybe you want to revitalize your passion for nursing. No matter the reason, going back to school can be a great place to start.
And don't worry, your online classmates won't all be 20-somethings just starting out. According to the most recent National Nursing Workforce Study, the median age of RNs in 2020 was 52. The online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) program from The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) is designed for working RNs. UTA's graduate-level online nursing programs are also designed for working nurses. Hence, many of our students have years of experience in the field — just like you.
Plus, with age comes wisdom and discipline. While you may not be fresh out of school, you've learned quite a bit about life and work along the way, and these skills will help you succeed in school. You know how you work best and you know how to stay on task. You're used to the rigors of work, so school won't be a shock to your system.
Concern 2: I've Been Out of School Too Long
If you're fretting that you've been out of school too long, it's time to stop. The truth is, the basics of school haven't changed that much, whether you've been out two years or 20. If anything, it's become more convenient. You still write papers, interact with your fellow students, read and do homework — all just in more innovative and engaging ways. The online aspect, in many ways, makes it more convenient, if not easier.
Concern 3: I've Never Done Online Classes
New to online learning? You're not alone. Many of our nursing students are. Coursework is rigorous and instructors are well qualified, analogous to on-campus programs. The main difference is the convenience of being able to study where and when best fits your schedule and obligations.
Online learning is flexible: You can view content as many times as you need to make sure you understand the material in depth. You have time to think before responding during discussions, whereas you might not in an on-campus classroom environment.
Plus, you can build on the computer skills you already use daily to help you develop the skills you'll need for online learning. There is also support — be sure to ask for help when you need it.
And, notably, the online model is intrinsically resilient to disruptions like the COVID-19 pandemic. In a well-designed online degree program like UTA's, you won't have to put your education on hold or get used to a different educational model when campuses must shift between in-person and virtual learning environments.
Concern 4: I Won't Get to Know My Classmates
It makes sense to think you won't get to know your classmates in an online program. But that's not necessarily the case. There are many ways to incorporate social interaction, discussion, debate and collaboration into online learning. You will interact on message boards, and because the message boards are a part of your grade, you may communicate as much as you would in person or even more. And the online format may work especially well if you're on the quiet side.
Another good thing about interacting with your cohort online is that you're meeting people from all over the country, not just your area. The UTA RN to BSN online program, for example, has students from nearly every state. This gives you perspectives from a diverse group of nurses you might not otherwise get — not to mention the networking possibilities.
Concern 5: I Won't Be Able to Meet With My Professors
True. Unless you live near campus, you most likely won't be able to meet with your professors — face to face. However, the nurse educators at UTA pride themselves on being available through a number of different mediums, including phone, text, email and video chat. This means you will be able to interact with faculty in ways that will support a great learning experience. Because of new technology, you might even get more time with your professors than you had when you were previously in school.
Concern 6: I'll Have to Write Papers
You will have to write papers in the bachelor's and master's programs at UTA, but you'll have plenty of help along the way. With online writing tutors, academic coaches and ready access to your instructors, you might find that writing papers is easier than ever. You may be anxious about using the proper APA formatting to cite your sources. Again, don't worry. There are plenty of free resources online and functions within word processors like Microsoft Word to help you. And your instructors will be with you every step of the way.
Concern 7: I'll Have to Repeat Classes I've Already Taken
One of the advantages of bridge programs such as the RN to BSN or the RN to MSN is their focus on adding new knowledge, tools and skills to what you already know. The number of courses you will have to complete to earn such a degree from UTA will depend on how much of your prior educational experience qualifies as transfer credits to satisfy general education, prerequisite and corequisite requirements. This is determined according to UTA's policies and the Texas Transfer Framework, including the Texas Core Curriculum (TCC) and the Field of Study Curriculum (FOSC).
This means that many of the courses you have already taken may count toward your degree and won't have to be repeated. Along with UTA's accelerated course design, this can expedite degree completion. For instance, depending on how many credits you can transfer in, you may be able to complete the coursework required for UTA's online RN to BSN in as few as nine months.
No matter what your concerns are, you're not alone. Once you make the leap, you'll find that going back to school might just be the best thing you can do for yourself, both professionally and personally.
Have more questions? Here you can find answers to more RN to BSN specific questions.
Learn more about UTA's online nursing degree programs.
Have a question or concern about this article? Please contact us.