Congratulations, you did it! You’ve officially been accepted into nursing school! You worked hard over the years to get to this point, and now you’ve made it! Now comes the real test… getting through nursing school and passing the NCLEX! In this post, I’m going to share with you my best tips for new nursing students so you can start the semester off right and avoid some common mistakes!
1. Show up to class early.
Getting to class at least 10 minutes early is an essential habit for success. Give yourself time to find a good seat and settle in before class starts.
If you come late, or even on time, chances are you may not get a good seat. Plus, many teachers start the class right on time, so if you’re just walking into class, you’ll miss some vital information. Have your notebook and pen ready to roll!
2. DON’T sit at the back of the class.
The further back you sit in the class, the less engaged you’ll feel in the lesson. There’s also a chance you might be tempted to goof off, fall asleep, play on your phone, or be distracted by other students sitting in front of you. Try your best to sit where you have a good view and can hear things clearly!
3. Look over the material the night before lecture.
You don’t have to read the entire chapter, but you should glance over the basics of what you’ll be covering in class. One of the ways we learn is through repetition.
So, if you look over the material before class, pay attention during class, and then review the material after class, that will already be 3 separate exposures to the material. Come to class familiar with the basics, and it’ll be that much easier to grasp the harder concepts.
4. Come to class prepared (and with questions!)
If there was anything you didn’t understand while reviewing, write down your questions and bring them to class. Make sure your bag is packed the night before with everything you need. Books, assignments, something to write with, supplies for clinical… Come ready to learn!
5. Seek help as soon as you need it.
This is one of my biggest tips for new nursing students! DO NOT wait until the end of the semester to ask for help and believe you can magically pull your grade up from like a 60-something to passing. Chances are it’s too late and it’s not going to happen. Do yourself a favor and seek help early on.
6. DON’T miss class.
Because YES, you can fail for non-attendance! But even if that isn’t true for you and your school, you’ll miss a ton of information covered in class and there’s a good chance you’ll miss something important.
7. Keep up with all assignments and readings.
You’re expected to complete a chunk of the learning and written work on your own time and you may be graded on your work or you may receive an “unsat” (a.k.a. unsatisfactory) for the day if you didn’t do it. And this goes back to tip #4… come prepared for class!
8. Your syllabus is your guide.
Print it, review it, and highlight important details and due dates. I like to pin mine to the wall where I study so it’s always within reach. Make sure to look for any learning outcomes and course objectives and pay close attention to them! They’re a great reference when studying for exams.
9. Time management is essential.
I highly recommend having a planner to avoid missing anything important: assignments, tests, due dates, and clinical time and location. It can be a digital planner, an app on your phone, a notebook, or one of those calendars on a dry-erase board, but whatever method you choose, use it!
No planner? No problem! I made a free weekly planner template that you can use to keep track of your schedule and assignments. Click here to get it!
10. Make friends with your classmates!
It’s fairly easy to make friends in nursing school… Simply introduce yourself and invite them for a coffee or to study together! We all need someone to lean on during the trials and stress of nursing school. So make study groups and find comfort in having someone to share in the pains of nursing school!
11. Reach out to your teachers.
Your teacher is there to help you and wants you to succeed! If there was an assignment you didn’t do well on (or as well as you expected), reach out to your teacher and find out why.
Maybe you’re focusing your study efforts on the wrong things. Maybe you didn’t understand something as well as you thought you did. Your teacher can help you figure out what went wrong and give you the advice to guide your study efforts.
Above all, teachers love to help students who show a genuine interest in learning!
12. Meet with your advisor regularly.
Again, they are here to help you succeed! You can go to your advisor for career advice, and program requirements, and to make sure that you’re taking the right courses. Let them know if you’re having any issues in school and what they can do to help. Build a relationship with your advisor as they are a wealth of information and a valuable resource!
13. Apply for scholarships, don’t be lazy!
Scholarships are widely available and worth applying for! Many scholarships require as little as filling out an application or writing a short essay that can be done in an hour or less. Your college’s website and a quick Google search are great places to start!
Another great tip for new nursing students! If you’ve never heard of this website, go check it out! It’s basically a place where students can write reviews of teachers they’ve had and rate them on a scale of 1 to 5. With a little research, you can better decide which teachers are best suited for you.
Even if you don’t have an option of which professor to take, at least you can know what to expect and find some valuable advice from someone who’s already taken their class.
15. Lastly, Remember to have fun!
Enjoy your experience and make the most of it. Make friends, join clubs, go to college events, volunteer, and make memories.