Can you go to nursing school as an older adult? People switch careers all the time during their life and choose to go to nursing school in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s (yes, even 60s). Nursing school isn’t just for twenty year olds, as some may think. Sadly, I have heard of people who contemplated not going to nursing school because they thought they were too “old”. As the saying goes, “Age is just a number”.
In this article, I want to encourage anyone out there who wants to go to nursing school as an older adult and give you some tips on doing so. Below is a video of me discussing this issue if you rather watch me talk. Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel.
First let’s answer the question: “Can older adults succeed in nursing school?”
Absolutely!! I was in nursing school with many, many older adults (when I say older adults I am talking about people over the age of 30) and they excelled. I also found that they took their course work more seriously than the younger students.
From personal observation, I found that the people who flunked out of nursing school were the young adults who were fresh out of high school. This was mainly because they didn’t really know what they wanted to do, and just pick nursing as a career, because it “sounded good”. So, yes older adults succeed in nursing school!
Tips & Requirements for Older Adults Who want to go to Nursing School
- Pick a program that suites your career goals! There are two ways to become a registered nurse and this is through an associate’s degree (ADN) or bachelor’s degree (BSN) program. Read about the differences between ADN and BSN degrees and how long they each take.
- Do you already have a bachelor’s degree in something else? If you do, then I have great news for you: You can get a bachelor’s degree in nursing through an accelerated or second-degree nursing program in as little as 1 ½ to 2 years (compared to the traditional 4 years). So, before you apply to a nursing program make sure you look for these types of programs. You will save time and money!
- You’ll need a high school diploma or G.E.D! Make sure you have earned one or the other. You will need one of these before you can apply to any type of nursing program.
- Study for the COMPASS exam! If you are under the age of 21, you will have to take an exam called the COMPASS exam. Students who are under 21 take the ACT or SAT and the COMPASS is similar.
This exam tests you are basic things you should have learned in high school, and some universities will have you take remediation classes to bring you up to speed, if you don’t do well on this exam. I recommend you get a Compass study guide (read the material and practice the questions).
- Pre-requisites! As I pointed out in the previous paragraph, that if you didn’t take certain courses in high school or scored low on the COMPASS exam, you will probably be required to take some remedial courses. For instances, say you didn’t take Algebra in high school and scored poorly on the Algebra section on the COMPASS exam, you will have to take an Algebra class in college.
- Dig out your vaccination records! Make sure you have documentation of your vaccinations and be prepared to get the yearly flu shot (many colleges and especially nursing schools are requiring this, as do employers).
- Finance! As an older adult, you have many responsibilities, such as mortgages, children, car payments, and the list could go on, so any financial help is a blessing. Apply for any scholarships you can and look for employer paid tuition programs (many hospitals will pay for you to go to nursing school if you agree to work for them after graduation). See more about financial aid programs for nursing school.
- Discuss Expectations! You will want to make sure everyone in your family, such as children, spouses, etc. know what to expect when you go back to school. Develop a plan where the children (if they are old enough) will help out more around the house. In addition, if you are working, analyze if you will be able to continuing working while you are in nursing school. To give you an idea of how busy you will be during nursing school, check out this video on a nursing school sample weekly schedule that includes clinicals and lecture classes.
Don’t let your age hold you back from pursuing your dreams of nursing. I’m here to tell you that older adults do very well in nursing school!
*Disclosure: The Compass study books I recommended in this article are recommendations based on our own honest personal opinion and experience. We are an affiliate with Amazon.com, and when you buy the products recommended by us, you help support this site.