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Tips for being successful in an online RN-BSN program

You’ve made the decision to continue your education an earn your BSN degree, congratulations on taking this important step! Maybe you are new to online education, or perhaps you took other courses before? Either way, an online BSN program will provide you with the opportunity to take classes with a diverse group of students, while having the flexibility to complete your course work at your own pace.

Although there are many benefits to online programs, there are also some challenges that can occur, such as time management. Although online programs offer a lot of flexibility, you will need to have self-discipline to complete work on time, and not procrastinate. The professor of the course will guide you and facilitate your learning, but ultimately your ability to be successful is up to you. At the start of every course, begin by taking the time to read the syllabus and all materials available that can prepare you for the course. This will help you determine what is expected of you, and how you will be evaluated in the course. Do not hesitate to contact the professor early on if you have questions and be mindful to read any announcements that are posted to the class. Often professors will post announcements or send emails each week to highlight was is happening that week, read these as they will help keep you informed as to what you need to do.

Plan your time out each week so you have time to read and work on assignments due. In online courses there can be one or more assignments due each week, and you must be able to juggle this with your personal and work life commitments. Many online programs allow you to work ahead, this is good but also do not get too far ahead. The professor will give you feedback on assignments, make sure to read this and use the feedback to improve your work. If you work too far ahead before listening to the feedback you may continue to make the same mistakes and not be able to correct your work before it is graded. Pick the time of day that also works best for you to be online. Many programs do not require synchronous online time; therefore, you can choose the time that works for you. If there is a synchronous requirement, meaning you must be logged into the course at a specified time of day, make sure you put this in your schedule, and allow for any time differences (such as east coast versus west coast).

Enjoy being a student. You are investing time and money in these courses, get all you can from them. If there is a discussion forum in the course, read what your peers are writing. Take the time to compose your response to questions posed by the professor, and to the writings of your peers. You can learn a lot from each other if you actively engage in the discussions. If there is a group project in the course, be a team player and get to know your peers. Work together and share your experiences.

Be aware of the technology requirements for the program. This does not mean you need to run out and buy an expensive laptop, but you need a reliable computer and Internet access. To be successful in an online program you must have access to the Internet on a daily basis. All communication will take place online, and all work is submitted online. If your computer and/or Internet source fails you, you may risk missing a deadline for an assignment and/or loss of points.

Another way to make your online learning experience a better one is to have a dedicated workspace for yourself. You will have textbooks and other materials that you will use during your course that you need access to, and you need a comfortable work environment. Each person must decide what this workspace should be, but in general make sure you can comfortably sit for extended periods of time, that the noise level is minimal to avoid distractions, and that your Internet access is reliable in this space. If you are a parent, find a space where you have as little interruption from children as you can. Consider a space outside your home if that works best, such as the local library.

The best tip overall I can offer as you begin your online program is to truly enjoy each course you take. You can be successful in an online program if you are dedicated to being an online student. Although you will not meet in person, you will have the support of your professor and from your classmates, be attentive to these relationships. Select a program that meets your needs and respects you as a student and adult learner. Do not hesitate to reach out to your professor early and as needed throughout the course. Set aside the time you need to be successful, and recognize that this is something good you are doing for yourself and you deserve to be able to immerse yourself in the program. Give each class your best effort and focused attention!

If you are interested in enrolling in our Online RN-BSN degree program call 844-386-7321 to speak with a Program Manager and learn more.  

About the Author:

Dr. Nancy Laplante is an Associate Professor of Nursing. She is the Coordinator of the RN/BSN & RN/MSN program options and the Director of Online Programs for the School of Nursing. She earned her MSN degree in 2004 with a focus in community health nursing, and a PhD in Nursing in 2007. Dr. Laplante is a board certified advanced holistic nurse, and serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Holistic Nursing.

She believes that compassion and caring are essential components of nursing education, and she strives to engage students in respectful, meaningful dialogue. She is a regular contributor to fundamental nursing textbooks and has published in the areas of holistic nursing education, educational perspectives, healthcare applications for the Internet of Things (IoT), and Service-Learning. Additional research interests include the image of nursing, creating presence in online learning communities, and self-care practices for nursing students. In her spare time Dr. Laplante enjoys spending time with her family and being a volunteer for a local animal rescue to support pet adoption and education in the community.