By Glenn Fredenburg, August 2015
You’ve decided to get your BSN. You’re married and have a job so you can’t get to college during the day for conventional classes. As an adult learner, you may feel out of place in a building full of high school graduates. Now, you wonder, where do I start? Why, as the King said in the Lewis Carrol classic Alice In Wonderland, “Begin at the beginning”, the King said, very gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop”. Welcome to self-learning.
Remember college? Classes with lectures and assignments, passing papers forward, complaining to each other about the grades and hoping the grades were curved? Now forget that. As an online learner, you will have to develop the independence and self-will to commit yourself to the weekly readings, complete the assigned work and plan ahead for papers and group projects without three-times-a-week reminders from an instructor that a test is coming. You will have to use your time wisely to create a plan for your family, your job, your life and carve a little out for your continuing education.
First you need a plan.
Are you taking classes to complete your bachelors’ degree (BSN) and do you want to take your education further? Are you starting a new career and will need more guidance and tutoring? If your computer fails, have you a plan for getting work done or purchasing a new system? Fortunately, Utica College’s ENGAGE software runs on mobile platforms – I did the first week of my first semester while on my honeymoon in Mexico! Thank you, hotel wireless internet!
Feel free to enlist your family in your cause to re-engage in continuing education; sell them on the idea of your classes making you a better nurse and adding to your marketability. Remind your family that the time is well spent, then spend that time wisely. It’s easy to get so caught up in your job and family that you lose track of time and miss assignments – that’s when you get back on the bike and ride again, trying not to fall this time. We might miss things, but we learn as adults from the error and become better people and students.
Plan to use your time at work and home more effectively so you can fit in the time needed to complete assignments. You may find yourself watching less television and interacting less on social media; these are time-savings which you can invest in your learning.
Then execute accordingly.
Remember that no one will prompt you to do your work! There are no online pop-ups, a fellow student is not likely to remind you a reading is due nor can you count on the professor telling you; it’s in the rubric and weekly learning list! DO get in the habit of logging onto ENGAGE daily to check the status of work, grades, follow the postings and look ahead a week to see what’s coming up! You can, as I have, put important issues (paper deadlines) on my phone calendar with reminder pop-ups scheduled for my drive home to remind me to get myself back in the groove and get on the work.
The hardest part of online learning is developing the discipline to schedule your work based on the lesson plan and then to find that time in your schedule. Once you develop the habit in your first few classes you should be ready to successfully complete your degree.
About the Author
Glenn Fredenburg has been a Registered Nurse for over 13 years, coming to the profession after a career in sales. His experience in nursing has been primarily in the critical care setting, with over ten years in the emergency room and intensive care areas. His mother is a retired nurse and urged him early in life to "become a nurse" because it's rewarding helping others heal and using your complete "toolbox" of skills to aid in the recovery of body and mind. In hindsight, his mother was right. Don't tell her.