Nursing Degree after 40: Are You Ready for the Challenges of Nursing School?
If you've been considering going back to college to earn a nursing degree but you're concerned that your age might work against you, take heart. Many people are entering nursing school as adults, successfully completing the course work, and graduating into a new workforce.
Higher education identifies a "traditional" student as one who enters college right after graduating from high school at about age 18, lives on campus, and moves through a program to obtain an associate or bachelor's degree before gathering major work or family commitments.
So-called non-traditional students are most likely older, may have families, a steady job (or both are responsible for their own finances) and are generally either considering enrolling in college to complete the education they started while younger, or else hope to change their direction in life.
Older Students' Concerns about Nursing School
Quite often, older, non-traditional students profess the following concerns about re-entering college:
- Not fitting in
- Not being able to succeed at the coursework
- Not being able to balance work/family vs. studies
- Not technologically proficient
For potential nursing students, the concerns are magnified in that nursing programs are usually rigorous and demanding.
The good news is that older nursing students have a tremendous success rate in college. Older students are more focused and less distracted than when they were younger. They take their studies more seriously and understand the importance of making time to study for tests and to complete assignments. They find ways to balance work and family by enlisting the help of family members and friends to help with children and home responsibilities.
Obviously, a good support system is essential for older students, so they can be freed up to focus on the demands of their class work. But there are other essentials that should also be in place before you enroll in a nursing program.
Get Your Finances in Order
Getting a nursing degree may require a significant financial commitment. Don't just throw up your hands and say you could never afford it, however; there are ways to make it work. Visit with a college admissions or financial aid representative to explore the various ways you might pay for your tuition and other expenses. These professionals can help you discover if you are eligible to apply for any scholarships particular to your circumstances, such as your ethnic background or others. You may also be eligible for grants and loans.
Think About Your Health
You will not succeed in nursing school unless you stay healthy. You may be blessed with the constitution of an 18-year-old, and that's great, but as we age, most of us develop some aches, pains, or frailties, so think about how you will cope with them when the going gets tough. Here are some suggestions:
- Eat right, with plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Cut out or cut down on alcohol consumption
- Eliminate smoking and keep the tobacco and caffeine under control. Caffeine and tobacco may be considered essentials for some students burning the midnight oil, but both can over-stimulate you so that you're overly tired, and can also exacerbate certain health conditions
- Get daily exercise whenever your schedule allows, even if it's just walking around the block Exercise will help you relax and stimulate the production of beneficial chemicals in your body
- Learn how to meditate and relax prior to study time or tests
Ask Yourself: Is Nursing Really for Me?
If you are willing to put in the time and effort, and you feel passionate about providing care for those who cannot care for themselves, then nursing may be a great fit for you.
Patient care requires someone with a compassionate personality who is not flustered or put off by the sometimes-challenging situations you'll be confronted with. Yes, there will be blood, wounds, burns, and a host of other physical ailments. Can you handle it? Not everyone can.
Are you interested in becoming a nurse? If you want to earn an Associate of Applied Science in Nursing, consider ECPI University for your education. With an accelerated schedule and year-round classes, you could earn your degree in as little as 18 months. For more information, connect with a helpful admissions advisor today.
It could be the Best Decision You Ever Make!
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