Choosing to pursue an online RN to BSN degree program is a significant decision that can impact your personal as well as your professional life. With many adult learners working either part or full time while completing online coursework, it can take commitment and determination to follow a degree program through to graduation. Here is some advice for students seeking to increase their chances for success.

Tips for Online Students

With so many demands on your time, students considering enrollment in an online degree program should plan in advance and try to work out as many of the details as possible beforehand. These tips can help you establish critical boundaries and steer you in the right direction following enrollment.

Read the course syllabus completely. The syllabus acts as your guide for each course. As it typically includes due dates, testing information and guidance on how to handle any issues that may crop up, failing to read the syllabus in its entirety can be a recipe for disaster. Print or save a copy you can easily reference at any time.

Know the technical requirements. Online degree programs offer students the flexibility to complete coursework from nearly anywhere. But if your computer or laptop does not meet the technical requirements, then logging in and participating may not be so simple. Make note of any technical requirements and confirm that your devices fit the bill.

Find a friend. While you may never meet face to face, it is still important to connect with others in your online classes. Besides potentially collaborating on group projects or interacting on the discussion boards, it’s a smart move to find a classmate you can reach out to when you have questions or need help.

Prioritize study time. For many students, completing an online degree may coexist with raising a family, working, volunteering, and any number of other commitments. To help juggle it all and succeed in class, establish a schedule early on that accommodates study time. For example, arrange a primary and secondary childcare option before the semester begins so you have dedicated study time each week.

Avoid overcommitting. Be realistic about how much you can really manage while pursuing your degree. Re-evaluate every commitment and determine if it is something that you can still meaningfully contribute to now or if waiting until your schedule frees up makes more sense.

Arrange a study-friendly workspace. Find a quiet area for studying and one that accommodates your computer, books, and other course materials. Trying to do homework at the dinner table, with family distractions, may not allow for enough concentration, so, have one or two study-friendly workspaces prepped and ready to go.

Find ways to manage stress. Small amounts of stress and anxiety are to be expected for students just entering or navigating the demands of a degree program. However, it is when those feelings become unmanageable that significant disruption to your life and degree progression can occur. Finding healthy ways to manage stress and anxiety — perhaps through exercise, spending time with friends, taking up a hobby, or seeking counseling — is key to avoiding burnout and ensuring your long-term success. According to a 2014 survey conducted by the American College Counseling Association, 11 percent of college students received either individual or group counseling for mental health needs during that same academic year. Many universities may offer some type of therapy or counseling services for stress and anxiety too, so, connect with student services and become familiar with all of the resources available to you.

What Advice Do Faculty Have for Students?

The professors and instructors in an online RN to BSN program oversee, cumulatively, hundreds if not thousands of students as they progress through a degree program. Because of this high-level view, they may have some of the most relevant advice to offer students considering enrollment.

Below, Nevada State College faculty offer advice and feedback for students interested in pursuing an online RN to BSN program:

“I would recommend defining why the goal of achieving a BSN is personally important. I would organize my work and share my goals with my supervisor and peer support persons. I would start with one course and dedicate daily/weekly devoted time for study and completion. I would prioritize my other responsibilities, and seek support of my family.” – Dr. Susan Bonnell, Associate Professor

“This online RN to BSN program offers you, the student, the opportunity to stretch and grow personally and professionally. Through self-reflection and exploration, this program will offer you the opportunity to truly understand what it means to CARE for patients and for yourself. In addition, this program will facilitate an understanding of how to carry Jean Watson’s Theory of Human Caring into your personal and professional practices.” — LaTricia Perry, BSN Director

“As a former associate degree RN, I would advise [students] to consider that clinical skills and proficiency is a very small part of the world of healthcare. Embrace the bigger picture. The BSN and beyond will help with this.” — Robert Reynoso, Lecturer

“The beauty of getting an RN to BSN all online is that you can do this at your pace. A BSN is so important in nursing and by having the flexibility of taking classes that fit your schedule, there seems to be no reason why you would not complete this program.” — Susan Growe, Assistant Professor

“Be open to learning from all of your peers! The online environment provides opportunities for clinical reasoning and well thought out responses from experienced nurses in many fields of nursing. I am always amazed by how much I learn from my students in online courses. I also advise students to create a schedule for focused learning in a quiet environment rather than doing assignments right before they are due. This will allow time for the extended learning opportunities the online environment provides.” — Andra Scano, Lecturer

“Just do it! If this is the right time and the right program with the right curriculum – you have nothing to lose and so very much to gain.” — Dr. Neal Rosenburg, Dean and Associate Professor

Taking the Leap

Enrolling in an online RN to BSN program is certainly a significant, life-altering step, but it is one that can unlock a wide range of career opportunities if followed through to completion. By balancing your commitments, paying close attention to course requirements, managing stress, and heeding the pertinent advice of friends, family and instructors, you can successfully earn your degree online and advance your career.

Learn more about the Nevada State RN to BSN online program.


American Psychiatric Association: College Students: Coping with Stress and Anxiety on Campus

U.S. News & World Report: 5 Tips to Succeed in an Online Course