When it comes to earning a degree, some students find online programs more challenging than on-campus programs. With the proper preparation, however, students can set themselves up to succeed in an online program. One drawback to an online program is that there are no regularly scheduled class meetings or in-person study sessions to hold you accountable. Rather, you are responsible for managing your own schoolwork and therefore your own success. While an online program allows you the freedom and flexibility to complete your degree from any location, it requires keen awareness and diligent effort from start to finish.
Understand the Demands
The first step to succeeding in an online RN to BSN program is understanding what is expected of you. Every school is different, and each professor is different. Even within the same program, two professors may have very different expectations for their students.
Before you begin your program, understand what you are required to do. Set yourself up for success by asking the following questions:
- How many credit hours do I need to complete?
- Will any of my previous education or work experience count for credit in this program?
- Am I expected to buy my own books or are the course materials provided as part of the tuition?
- How many hours do most students spend studying and completing coursework each week?
- Will I need to take any exams at a proctor location or are exams available online?
Make sure no surprises pop up during your program. The more prepared you are at the start, the better off you will be as you progress through your courses.
Budget Your Money
Many students make the mistake of underestimating how much time an online program requires and how much study materials cost. Many programs require you to purchase textbooks, which can cost you hundreds of dollars. Apart from internet access, you may also need study materials such as flash cards, notebooks, sticky notes, pens and paper clips. According to The College Board, the cost of books and supplies is approximately $1,298 per year for undergraduate students at a four-year public college. However, you can often lower those costs by buying used textbooks, renting textbooks or selling back your textbooks at the end of the semester.
Manage Your Time
Time management plays a major role in the success of online students. At the beginning of each term, go through each course syllabus and note important dates on your calendar. Write down dates for tasks such as discussion board posts, discussion board responses, required readings, quizzes, projects, homework assignments and exams. Many students choose to note these important tasks a few days before the actual due date to give themselves a cushion just in case something comes up, like a work emergency, illness or family event. Also note dates such as the FAFSA deadline if you are receiving financial aid. Enrollment dates and tuition deadlines are also crucial.
As you begin your studies, give yourself ample time to complete coursework. Notice how long each task takes you. By tracking your time, you will begin to understand exactly how much time you need to set aside each day or week to complete your coursework.
Network With Your Professors and Classmates
Just because you are taking an online class does not mean you are disconnected from your classmates. In fact, most online learning platforms have a built-in email system that allows you to connect with your fellow students. Reach out to your classmates and suggest connecting on LinkedIn or another social networking site. Many professors encourage students to discuss challenging assignments and readings in order to maximize understanding. College is also a great opportunity to build a network of colleagues who can help you find your dream job in the future.
Take Care of Yourself
Most online students also have full- or part-time jobs. Working and going to school simultaneously can be exhausting. Make sure to take time every day to relax and do what you enjoy. Even something as simple as sipping a cup of coffee quietly every morning can be enough to recharge and focus your energy for the day ahead. On your days off, make an effort to do something completely unrelated to school, work or other responsibilities. Get plenty of sleep and exercise to keep your body in top shape. It is easy to neglect your physical health when you are cramming for exams and working hard to earn that BSN degree.
Completing an online RN to BSN degree is not an easy task, but with the proper mindset and preparation, you can succeed. Set yourself up for realizing your goals by taking care of yourself and giving yourself enough time to tackle the challenges ahead.
Learn about the University of Texas of the Permian Basin online RN to BSN program.
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