So you’ve started college (or nursing school), and you’re probably flooded with emotions (fear, anxiety, excitement, etc.). You’re ready to attend class and start studying!
Before you actually begin that semester, you need to make sure you start out on the right foot. This article (and video) will give you some simple tips to ensure you’re going to succeed during the semester.
Preparing for the Semester in Nursing School
Step #1: Organize your schedule strategically. Many students don’t think twice about their schedule, and they’re suffering because of it. One of the most important things you can do is to make your schedule work for you. What do I mean? Here are some things you want to do:
- Spread out hard classes throughout the week. In other words, don’t take 3 of your hardest classes on the same days (Tuesdays/Thursdays), instead, take some hard classes on the MWF period, and others on the TR days. This will spread out those assignments and test days so that you won’t find yourself in a pinch when two exams are scheduled on the same day.
- Take a variation of classes that require different study methods. You don’t want to take five lecture classes, because all you’ll be doing every day is making flashcards and memorizing endless definitions. Instead, take a math class, a writing class, maybe an oral intensive class, and then one or two courses where you have to just read and study definitions and terms (the video provides an example of what I mean).
- Also, try to take some courses online, because this creates much more flexibility in your schedule.
Step #2: Research your professors. There are many wonderful teachers in the world. Unfortunately, there are also some teachers who have no talent to teach! Some don’t give a rip about whether a student will pass or fail. Others are just plain lazy. You need to research your professors using a site like ratemyprofessors.com.
Ideally, you need to do this far in advance BEFORE registering for classes. I would spend days working with my schedule to get the right professors and to work it in a way (like I mention in step 1) to work for me. So, always research your professors, and stick with the good ones.
Step #3: Get your books and supplies early. I would always get books at least two weeks in advance, sometimes even earlier. When taking a class that you know will be difficult (like Anatomy), go ahead and get some supplemental material (study guides, flashcards, etc.). Have that material on standby, and you might even want to study them in advance.
In addition, get a copy of the syllabus–especially for the tough classes, if you can. This will allow you to setup a plan for how you are going to attack the semester.
Step #4: Get a planner or calendar. You’ll need this to stay organized in nursing school. I won’t go into too much detail here (I have a whole video and article on that topic), but a calendar or planner will help you stay on task. Get that early, and get organized!
Step #5: Over-prepare for that first exam. This is perhaps the most important thing you need to do in the semester. You need to push aside everything for those first few weeks, and study like crazy for those very first exams. Why? Here are four reasons why you want to do that:
- It will help you learn critical material. Most classes have all the foundational material at the beginning, and everything else builds on that. So if you learn the foundational material, you’ll do much better as the class goes on, even if you get a little burned out at the end.
- You don’t know the teacher’s testing method. By over-preparing, you’ll do better than if you just study the “regular way.” Once you learn the teacher’s testing method, you can hone your study methods and slack off a bit.
- You’ll have a high grade to “cushion” you for the rest of the semester. This will reduce stress when it comes to taking the final. Rather than saying, “I’ve got to have an 80 on this test to pass the class,” you’ll be saying, “I can make a 60 and still have an A.”
So, always go into the first test thirsty for blood! Take no prisoners!
Step #6: Attend class, even if it’s boring. Many nursing schools are developing a strict attendance policy. So, make sure you attend class. By attending class regularly, you’ll be able to keep up with assignments, pop quizzes, and so forth.
I hope these tips help you start the semester out strong!