Many nurses are torn between two options. Should they finish the degree or let it lapse? It’s not always a case of not wanting to go back to school, but rather of doubting its viability. Many RNs are concerned that they are too old to finish their education. Will they be forced to sit in classes with students who are decades their junior? Will they be able to finish their degree, or has education — as well as technology — changed too much?
Nurses, thankfully, are frequently shocked. For starters, they might discover that their classmates aren’t all that much younger. Nursing students, on average, are older than the average college student, with BSN students in their late twenties and ADN students in their early thirties. The average age of BSN candidates is even higher in tracks created particularly for RNs. According to a recent study published in AORN, the average age is between 38 and 39 years old. Further research at a different institution found that the average was between 36 and 37. Some schools do make demographic information about their pupil’s public, including the average age.
Even averages can be deceiving, as they conceal a surprising amount of variation. It is not uncommon for people in their 50s to return to school. Nontraditional students are frequently more appreciative of and committed to their educational prospects. Nursing professors like their demeanor, and students, in turn, value one other’s experiences.
If you are self-conscious about your age, you should carefully select your program. Author Alaf Meleis outlines the experiences of a group of RN to BSN students in Transitions Theory: Middle-Range and Situation-Specific Theories in Nursing. Nurses had a more difficult time transitioning when their classmates were much younger. Those who were in cohorts with peers were more likely to have an easier re-entry.
One of the most pleasant aspects of the program, according to many nurses, is the relationships formed with other cohort members. However, things can go wrong. If you choose a program where all of your classmates are registered nurses, chances are they’ll be your age and have similar life experiences. If you choose advanced placement in a typical BSN program, you’ll be more aware of your age and feel like you’re out of the group. This could have an impact on your overall satisfaction with the program.
Academic Concerns about Baccalaureate Completion
Another worry for nurses who have worked in the field for a while is whether or not they will be successful academically. If this describes you, keep in mind that adult learning departments commonly oversee RN to BSN programs, and one of the school’s missions is to accommodate you and others like you. Even in an online program, tutoring is sometimes given as part of the package. “The Successful RN to BSN Student: Skills for Success Going Back to School” may be of interest to you.
Concerns about technology can contribute to academic anxiety. Is online education only for the tech-savvy millennials? Computer abilities are important, although the level of expertise required varies. It’s the essentials in some cases: You’ll need to know how to use the internet and how to upload and download attachments, for example. Remember that you will not be the only student in the class who did not grow up surfing the internet or giving PowerPoint presentations in class. Computer skills are frequently included in school orientation. Do some more study and make sure you’re comfortable with the program in question.
If you’re not sure whether you’re ready, start with a light schedule. Many programs permit you to enroll in only one class at a time. For a deeper understanding of nursing careers and what to expect, you can also find nursing schools near you.