A hardworking student studying at home

Life As An Online Student

If you’re a prospective student eyeing the nursing programs at Unitek College, they probably aren’t hard to imagine-after all, all of us have been in a classroom setting at some point in our lives. But if you’re an RN eyeing Unitek College’s online RN-to-BSN program, you might have some questions on what your experience will be like.

The number one thing you’ll notice (besides the absence of desks, classroom walls, and classmates within an arm’s reach) is the schedule. Classroom schedules are rigid and predetermined-you know exactly what blocks of time to carve out for lectures and lab work. But if you’re studying online, the responsibility of setting a schedule falls entirely on you. On one hand, creating your own schedule allows your classroom and study time to be very flexible. But on the other hand, you’re constantly surrounded by the distractions of home, so you’ll want to have a solid plan for getting your work done.

“The big myth is it’s easier to go online, because you can do it at your own pace,” says Tamara Popovich of Arizona State University. “You do have more flexibility, but it’s not any easier … It’s harder, because you’re on your own; you’re left to your own devices.” To overcome this challenge, Popovich strongly suggests setting a specific routine, making your studies a daily activity, looking ahead to future assignments, and speaking up if you feel you’re falling behind.

The good news is: it’s all doable. If you have what it takes to be a good student in a physical classroom, then you have what it takes to make it as an online student. Just find the schedule that works for you, and don’t procrastinate.

Your day might look Kelle Howard’s, a 40-year old mom and teacher who sets aside an hour or two after dinner each day (and a few extra on the weekends) to knock out her coursework. Or you could give Fara Bowler’s approach a try-a 43-year old mother of four, who stays late at work one night a week to work on her studies.

The truth is, it’s impossible to predict exactly what your online experience will be like, because no two experiences are the same. Online classes meld to your schedule, your natural rhythms and preferences, and around your family life and work schedule. You might hit the program hard and graduate within 12 months (assuming the maximum transfer of credits). Or you could take a slower pace and stretch your program out another year.

But while individual experiences may vary within the program, the end result (after passing all exams) is the same for all graduates-a BSN degree, a distinction that puts you in a higher salary bracket (earning $12,000 to $17,000 more than ADN’s on average), qualifies you for specialized positions and more responsibility, and overall makes you much more attractive to prospective employers.

An online degree isn’t a shortcut, and it does take a lot of work and sacrifice to complete. But the possible rewards at the end make it more than worth it.

If you’d like more information on the Unitek College RN-to-BSN online program, click here.