Students enrolled in an online RN to BSN program often have a multitude of other responsibilities. According to research from Deloitte, more than one-quarter of college students work full time or care for children. Pursuing a bachelor’s degree on top of these important commitments is certainly challenging, but with some strategic planning and persistence, success is within reach.
Is Creating a Support System Helpful?
Besides being committed to self-development and the advancement of your education, gaining buy-in from family, friends, and even coworkers and employers is essential. Share your plans with individuals you trust and know will not only encourage and support you but also hold you accountable.
Due to the increasing demand for BSN-prepared nurses, your current employer will likely respond positively to your continuing education goals. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), 49 percent of employers require a BSN for new hires whereas 86 percent express a strong preference for such qualifications. Many employers offer tuition reimbursement programs and bonuses as well as career advancement for nurses who earn a BSN, so making your employers aware of your plans creates another potential avenue of support.
How Can I Balance Work, Family and School?
At first glance, it seems impractical to balance work and family with school commitments, but that is far from the reality. Although you should be prepared to curtail some activities and commitments, the flexibility of an online degree program allows you to retain the core of your current lifestyle and responsibilities without significant disruption.
In addition to gaining buy-in from your family, friends and colleagues, consider doing the following to achieve better balance during your degree program:
Focus on the why. When you identify and connect with your primary reasons for pursuing a BSN, you will often have more resolve to stay the course when roadblocks arise. Adult learners frequently enroll in order to improve existing skill sets and gain access to a wider range of career opportunities. Many also use the opportunity to demonstrate the value of continuing education to their children and show that it is never too late to pursue one’s dreams. Identify your unique why(s) and carry them with you each step of the way.
Use the resources available to you. While an online degree program requires a certain level of self-guidance and motivation, you are never completely on your own. Be sure to take advantage of all the resources available to you. If you have questions or need support, for example, reach out through the online interface to connect with professors, instructors, librarians and classmates.
Schedule family homework time. Set aside time each evening or several times per week for family homework time. Mark it on the calendar and lay some ground rules such as no TV, phone calls or texting to ensure you make the most of this time together.
Be mindful of your time. Refrain from overcommitting to others and recognize how a long weekend trip or an extra shift will impact your ability to study and complete assignments. Use small chunks of time — such as your lunch break or time spent waiting to pick up the kids — to return emails, make phone calls, or complete reading assignments.
Have a backup plan. Sage advice for any student trying to juggle work and family along with school is to expect the unexpected. While planning for every unforeseen circumstance is unrealistic, having a general backup plan in place to smooth over any rough patches is highly recommended. Think about how you will navigate acute illnesses within the family or where you will go to study when you need absolute quiet so that your progress is not hindered.
Going All In
An online RN to BSN program is a realistic pathway for busy parents and nurses interested in developing their skill set and advancing their career. And you can complete it in as few as 12 months. While managing it all is challenging, gaining buy-in and support from those close to you helps ease the burden. Having a plan, utilizing university resources and remaining focused on your end goal are key factors also. With determination and a short-term commitment, earning a BSN while raising a family and being employed is both achievable and worthwhile.
Learn more about the USC Aiken online RN to BSN program.