If you are wondering how to go to nursing school later in life, you are in the right place. Our biggest passion here at Midlife Nursing is to support adults in achieving their dreams of being a nurse, no matter how “old”. 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, and beyond, this article is for everyone.
When I was 25, I was still not in nursing school and I was nowhere near even close to applying. I remember that birthday so well. Admittedly, I felt really depressed and embarrassed that I was still nowhere close to reaching this goal.
Today, I am writing this article at 33, almost 34 years old, and I am just about to enter my last year of nursing school. I will be 34, almost 35 when I graduate with my BSN.
If my 25-year-old self knew that I wouldn’t be a nurse until I was basically 35, I probably would have quit. That’s just sad, right? Good thing I’m not a fortune teller.
I don’t know why the measurement of “time” affects our judgment and decisions so much. For whatever reason, I feel like people in their mid to late twenties have especially high expectations as to where they should be by their mid-twenties and early thirties.
The time is going to pass anyway, so you may as well spend it walking forward, not standing still.
Here is how to go to nursing school later in life, and you will find it is a very similar process for all ages.
1. Decide If You Are Going To Pursue Your ADN Or Your BSN
There are some key differences between the two, and if you want to get your degree done as fast as possible, the ADN is probably the fastest path.
Quick Facts on ADN (Associate Degree in Nursing):
- Achieved through your local community college
- Can be completed in as fast as two to three years
- Heavily focuses on nursing skills
- Cheaper option
Quick Facts on BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing):
- Achieved through a public or private university
- Considered a four-year degree
- In addition to nursing skills, there is a heavy emphasis on evidence-based practice, leadership, and public health
- More costly option
You will learn that the process to become a nurse is not different for anyone, but if you feel like your age is deterring you from pursuing nursing, the ADN might be the best route to start with. Community colleges tend to work better with older adults’ schedules as they have more flexible class times to accommodate working people.
2. Research the Program Requirements ex: Vaccines and Criminal History
If you have been out of school for a long time, you will want to know what is required of you and get a move on it quickly. For example, are there vaccines that are required for that nursing program that you are behind on? This is one of the things on the checklist that older adults really need to pay attention to. Depending on your vaccination status, you may need 3 to 6 months to get caught up on some.
Another option, if you have no clue where your shot records are, you can always get your titers drawn and start from there. Most nursing schools accept titer results. Follow your doctor’s advice regarding what you need to do to be considered caught up on your vaccines.
The most common shots required in nursing schools and hospitals:
- Hep B
Another important thing to know is, what is the nursing program’s criminal record policy? Most schools follow the guidelines of the state licensing board regarding this issue. If you have something on your record, reach out to the school and see if there is a procedure to follow to get minor offenses appealed, etc.
3. Secure Financing
If you haven’t already, head on over to studentaid.gov and fill out the FAFSA form.
One great perk that I found with going to school as a slightly older adult, who was married, with a child, was that I qualified for a lot of student aid. I never had to pay for tuition when I was in community college working on my pre-requisites, and I also got a pretty good check every semester of grant money, which is money you don’t have to pay back.
You may also qualify for low-interest student loans through the government depending on your situation.
So the FAFSA is a great place to start to see what you qualify for through the government, and then you can meet with the financial aid department and meet with their scholarship specialist to discover more opportunities to receive aid money if needed. There are also private companies like Sallie Mae you can go through if you have exhausted all your government aid.
4. How to go to nursing school later in life? Get to work on the Pre-requisites ASAP.
Nursing pre-requisites are extremely important in this process. So do not take them lightly.
The best thing you can do is to first set up a meeting with the nursing counselor of the program. They will help you schedule your pre-requisites in a way that will help ensure your greatest success.
The nursing counselor will know that taking anatomy, physiology, and microbiology all at once is not a good idea. They will know which teachers are the best for certain students, etc. So utilize their expertise and let them help you register for a realistic semester load that will increase your chances of success.
Again, do not take your pre-requisites lightly. These are not simply classes to just “get through” quickly. Your pre-requisites are the classes that go on your nursing application and you will be competing with other students based on the grades you get in these classes.
This is why proper semester scheduling is so important to your overall success and increasing your chances of getting into the nursing program faster.
Taking my pre-requisites in my late twenties and early thirties resulted in a slower process. To do my absolute best and still be able to work, maintain my home and take care of my child, I could only take one or two important nursing pre-requisite classes at a time. So your timing here just depends on your own personal circumstances.
So again, talk to a counselor. They will help you come to the best decision based on your scheduling and timing. And just grind. It will be worth it in the end.
5. Study For Your Nursing School Entrance Exam
Most nursing schools also require an entrance exam to even be able to apply to the program. There are two common tests, and that is the HESI A2, and the TEAS.
I personally took the HESI A2 and here is an article I wrote on how I scored a 94% on all required sections.
If you struggle with your nursing pre-requisites, the HESI or TEAS can make up for any less than stellar grades on your nursing application. If you score very high on these exams, this is actually one of the best indicators to nursing programs that you can study, pass tests, and keep up in nursing school.
The best resource that prepared me to get a 94% on the HESI A2 was:
So don’t be nervous. I was nervous to compete with people in their early twenties, but I did awesomely. So definitely check out the article I linked and this resource and you will kill it.
6. Just Do It!
Look I get it. I am a wife and mother. I have bills and limited outside support, which is why I have a heart for this topic. But where there is a will, there is a way. I have talked to so many nurses who went back to school later in life. They look back and can’t believe they did it, but they did.
If you want this bad enough, you will figure out the logistics and make it happen. If you need help with child care, there are government assistance programs that will help you with childcare. It is just a few years of sacrifice, and it goes by SO fast.
Remember, time is going to pass anyway. Keep moving forward. You have this dream, you owe it to yourself to give it your best shot.
So, how to go to nursing school later in life? As you can see, the process is very much the same for everyone. To help pay your bills in the process, take advantage of government assistance.
The industry needs your wisdom and life experience. It is a super cool thing when a young person goes straight from high school, to getting a nursing degree and then working as a nurse their whole life. But it is also a really valuable thing to have nurses where it is their second or third career.
You will bring expertise and life lessons that only come from a rich life experience.
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