10 Nursing School Tips for Success

Nursing school is a rewarding endeavor; however, it can be challenging. Our 10 nursing school tips for success include organizing your tasks using a planner, tailoring your study methods to fit your learning style, and focusing on understanding concepts and processes rather than memorizing.

Xavier ABSN student working with sim manikin

Nursing school is hard. If it were easy, our society would have a big problem on its hands. After all, would you want an inadequately prepared nurse taking care of you or a loved one? Neither would we. So while our 16-month ABSN program has its challenges, it’s nothing you can’t handle if you’re dedicated to becoming a nurse. It also helps to consider these 10 nursing school tips for success.

1. Get a Planner

Our ABSN program comprises four full-time semesters of a compressed curriculum. From your first to your last day of class, you can expect a whirlwind of learning. You’ll experience a fast-paced blend of online coursework, nursing skills labs, and clinical rotations. Therefore, being able to prioritize and manage your time wisely is vital to your success in nursing school.

A planner can help keep you from becoming overwhelmed by making you more effective in juggling multiple priorities. When you can visualize your learning activities on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, it becomes easier to get your nursing school routine down to a science.

2. Personalize Your Study Habits

Nursing school requires you to absorb massive amounts of information, making it important for you to become efficient in your study efforts. Because everyone retains information differently, think about how you best learn, and get creative with your study strategies. Here are some suggestions based on your learning style:

  • Auditory learners: Record yourself reading your notes out loud and replay your recordings while doing other tasks (driving, walking, cleaning, etc.).
  • Visual learners: Make note cards featuring mnemonics to help you remember terms and concepts.
  • Social learners: Form a study group with individuals in your cohort and quiz each other over class material.

Regardless of how you learn best, our online learning platform features technology that supports multiple student learning styles.

Xavier student on computer

3. Find Relatable Resources

Given the compressed nature of our ABSN program, each class and semester is uniquely challenging. While each semester poses a unique set of obstacles and unknowns, the intensity of the curriculum remains consistent throughout. During the first semester, for example, many students deal with the anxiety that comes with not knowing what online learning is like or what to expect during clinicals.

To help you mentally prepare for each semester of nursing school, you might find comfort in reading blogs or listening to podcasts created by nursing students and/or practicing RNs. A quick Google search of top nursing blogs will set you in the right direction.

Xavier nurse with stethoscope smiling at camera

If you want to learn more about the first semester of nursing school, we outline what you can expect and offer some advice to help you prepare.

4. Comprehension Over Memorization

Nursing school is less about memorizing facts and more about synthesizing concepts. Therefore, it’s important to focus your efforts on learning the course material, understanding how the content ties together, and developing your critical thinking skills. For example, simply memorizing the term “renal failure” and its associated complications doesn’t mean you understand what’s going on inside the body. You need to know how kidneys work and how they influence other parts of the human body.

A good way to gauge your comprehension of a concept is to try explaining it to someone. If you can’t explain it, you need to do some more studying. Being able to synthesize nursing concepts comes in handy when taking courses such as pathophysiology, which many students claim to be the most difficult class in nursing school. If you can master this study technique early on, you will have set yourself up for success in these upper-level courses.

5. Treat Nursing School Like a Full-Time Job

Nursing school, especially an accelerated program like Xavier’s, is fast-paced and will require a large investment of your time and energy. You will likely be spending at least 40 hours per week working on your schoolwork and studying; the equivalent to a full-time job.

Because nursing school is so time-consuming, we recommend that you do not have a job while in our program. This means you may have to do a little extra financial planning before entering nursing school. However, it is worth it to graduate in as little as 16 months and get started in your nursing career sooner, especially considering that nurses with a BSN make an average of $89,000 per year.

xavier student working on manikin

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

On the subject of paying for nursing school, at Xavier we offer a plethora of resources to our students. You might as well get your money’s worth. One of the biggest ways to use your resources is to ask questions as they arise. While it can be a little intimidating to admit that you don’t understand a concept, every member of our staff at Xavier is prepared to help you succeed. Whether you talk with a professor or an admission counselor, they will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

7. Practice Makes Perfect

As part of the ABSN curriculum, you’ll complete a series of nursing labs that teach you how to deliver patient care safely and effectively. These labs, which cover everything from hygiene to musculoskeletal assessment, also help prepare you for your clinical rotations in diverse areas of health care.

However, before you can apply a particular nursing skill in an actual clinical environment, you’ll need to verify your competency by way of a skills check off. For example, before you can take a real patient’s blood pressure, we ensure you know how to take blood pressure in lab. Therefore, as you learn new skills throughout the program, we encourage you to practice as much as you can during open lab hours.

8. Lean on Your Family and Friends

Establishing a strong support system is crucial to your success in nursing school. And while you’ll have a great support system in place at Xavier to help you get through our program, it is important for you to have help outside of nursing school as well.

Even though you may not have as much free time as you used to, it is still important to make time for your family and friends. Not to mention, your loved ones will likely be happy to help if you need extra support while in school. For example, if you are a parent, you may consider asking a friend or family member to keep your child entertained while you study for an exam. Or if you live with someone, you may ask them to take on a few extra household chores during the weeks when you have extra schoolwork.

Building a support system - tips for accelerated nursing students

Need more advice on how to build a support system? Here are additional tips for accelerated nursing students.

9. Remember Why You Started

Nursing school is challenging, and there may be moments when you question if the result is worth all your effort. To push through these moments, remember why you started nursing school in the first place.

Before applying to nursing school, you’ll have to prepare an explanation for why you want to become a nurse. During that process, it may be a good idea to keep some journal entries as you work through your why. Not only will these notes help you recall the answer to this question during the admission process, but you can refer to them on difficult days for motivation.

10. Develop Self-Care Rituals

While in the throes of nursing school, it’s easy to let self-care fall by the wayside. However, regularly taking time away from your studies to relax and recharge is vital to your success. A good rule of thumb is to block out time in your planner for self-care just as you would for exam preparation. Self-care rituals can be as simple as meditating for 15 minutes every day or exercising regularly.

Self-care rituals are just as essential as daily hygiene practices. Licensed professional counselor Leslie K. Lobell explains, “You cannot keep giving to others if you do not give to yourself first. It is like pouring water from a vessel: you cannot pour and pour without refilling it. Eventually, it will run dry.”

Put These Nursing School Tips for Success in Action

xavier absn student listening in stethoscope

If you’re ready to put these 10 nursing school tips for success to use, it’s time to apply for Xavier’s ABSN program. If you want to know more about our 16-month ABSN program in Cincinnati, Cleveland, or Columbus, Ohio, or need more nursing school tips for success, contact our admission team today!

Xavier ABSN simulation lab

ABSN 101 Guide

Download our ABSN 101 Guide to help you successfully navigate the accelerated path to nursing.