The Online Nursing Student’s Guide to Survival
Industry Perspective From picking the right graduate program to navigating the ins and outs of financial aid, we’ve got you covered.
Deciding whether an online program makes most sense for your particular situation and goals is the first step. From there, some important questions about the program itself still remain.
Before you enroll
Looking to obtain a graduate nursing degree? Consider these four factors before deciding on a distance education program.
Are you flexible?
An online program should allow for flexibility. Classes that are asynchronous do not require your presence in a classroom. You can move through the course materials and course requirements within the guidelines provided by the faculty.
Is the program too demanding?
In an online graduate program, students have the ability to prioritize based on their individual needs. The flexibility of online education allows for a schedule that fits your family’s needs whether you have young children, teenagers or care for an elderly relative. Also the ability to work may be a priority and an online program allows the flexibility to support a work schedule.
Is community important to you?
An online nursing program allows students to remain in their community. Relocation may not be possible for many students. You can stay and focus on improving health care where you live and work. An online nursing program would allow you to balance other areas of life while achieving your dream of pursuing an advanced career. Many programs are based on a community health care model and this may be a shared mission with the school chosen for your graduate degree.
Are all of your ducks in a row?
Managing your schedule as a graduate student is vital. Your schedule should include not only your family's needs and work obligations, but also time to study, complete assignments and other course requirements. In addition, do not forget the importance of taking time for yourself. It is also important to explore options for financing your graduate education. Options may include personal resources, grants, scholarships, employer assistance and student loans.
Weighing your options
When evaluating an online graduate program, ask yourself these five questions:
Does the mission of the school match your personal mission and philosophy of nursing?
When evaluating potential graduate programs, review the school’s vision, mission and philosophy of nursing. Does it match your own personal mission and philosophy? If similarities are identified, this may be the school for you.
Does the school hold the appropriate accreditations?
Accreditations are achieved when a school meets a general standard of quality. When reviewing potential schools, evaluate the accreditations held by the school. Are the accreditations current and appropriate for the types of programs offered?
What are the pass rates on the certification examinations for graduates of the program?
The certification examination is an objective measure of the quality of a program. Factors influencing the quality of a program include qualified faculty, a well-developed curriculum, and adequate resources to support online delivery. Each school should publish their annual pass rates with a comparison to national rates. Schools with pass rates at or above the national pass rates indicate a quality program.
Does the school focus on well-being?
It is well-documented that a culture of caring and a sense of community enhances satisfaction and learning among students. Students need to feel connected to other students and connected to faculty to be successful.
Does the school have systems in place to support students?
Review services that provide support for students such as technical support, library services and student organizations. Additional services to consider include advising and academic support, student services and online resources.