How to Prepare for Nursing School: 8 Things to Know

Knowing how to prepare for nursing school can set you on the right foot. Eight ways to prep for nursing school include: know your why, expect a challenge, finish prerequisites, refresh on the curriculum, know your learning style, use your support system, network on campus, and prioritize your health.

Woman walking down hallway with backpack

As you await the transition to nursing school, your mind is likely running with questions. Knowing how to prepare for nursing school can be a challenge, but Concordia University Texas is here to ease your anxiety. There are a few things you can do now to set yourself up for success.

The Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) track at Concordia University Texas (CTX), located in Austin and Dallas, helps students make the transition to nursing faster. Because students are able to finish their BSN degree in as few as 16 months, they learn the material at a fast pace. With that in mind, going into nursing school prepared and ready to learn can set you up for success.

So, how can you prep for nursing school? We’ll discuss eight strategies for how to prepare for nursing school. Implementing them will go a long way toward ensuring your nursing education is a success.

1. Know Your Why for Nursing

Wondering what to know before starting nursing school? The first thing you should know is your “why.” A key piece of how to prepare for nursing school is to know why you’re choosing nursing. Before investing time, energy, and finances into this career, be confident in the reason you’re choosing this path. It will be hard work. Having a clear why will motivate you when you’re in the midst of studying.

Remember that nursing is not just a career — it’s a calling and ministry. That’s why our nursing students earn a BSN framed within the context of a Christ-centered education. As a nurse, you’ll get to serve your community and have a positive impact in people’s lives daily.

So, as you prep for nursing school, think through the things that inspire you to become a nurse, and write them down. Put them on your mirror or fridge; a place where you’ll see them regularly. Keeping your why at the top of your mind will provide strength and encouragement as you work through the 16-month Accelerated BSN track.

2. Expect Nursing School to Be Tough

When you enter the ABSN track at CTX, you will be challenged. Even if you were a biology major in college, still expect to feel overwhelmed as you transition to nursing school. That is normal, so be patient with yourself, and give yourself time to adjust.

Nursing instructor with nursing students working with simulation manikin

For most students, it takes a month or two of trialing various study methods before they refine their study methods. You need to determine what unique mix of strategies works best for you. Once you have your study system in place, you’ll be on track to succeed through the rest of nursing school.

Remember to go into nursing school with an attitude of humility. There is much to learn, and you will be stretched in new ways. It’s all part of the journey of shaping you into the nurse you were meant to be.

3. Finish Your Science Prerequisites

Before starting nursing school, you may have to complete a number of prerequisite courses. The number of courses you are responsible for depends on two things: the status of your previous academic history and the number of transferable credits you have. An important quality that separates our ABSN track apart from other nursing programs is that there is currently no expiration date on science prerequisites.

If you have a previous biology degree, you may have already taken all the prerequisites and be eligible to start the ABSN track sooner than you may have been able to start a traditional BSN program.

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On the other hand, if you come from a non-science background, all is not lost; as long as you have a minimum of 60 non-nursing college credits, you can work to complete your prerequisite courses and enroll in the ABSN track at a time that works best for you. We offer three start dates per year in January, May, and August.

4. Read Up on the Nursing Curriculum

Before starting nursing school, it’s a good idea to refresh yourself on what to expect in the ABSN track so you can start preparing a study plan. When it comes to nursing school, it’s impossible for non-nurses to learn how to care for patients online, without any hands-on experience. That’s why our Accelerated BSN track is divided into three curriculum components that are all completed concurrently.

student with backpack walking into building

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Online Coursework

A lot of our Accelerated BSN students enjoy the flexibility and convenience that comes with completing their fundamental coursework online. While instructor deadlines still apply, you have the ability to study and complete your assignments at any time of the day or night.

“I really enjoyed having control over my online coursework,” accelerated BSN graduate Carlee Dodge says. “Instead of showing up for class, I was able to attend class according to my schedule.”

On-Site Skills and Simulation Labs

Hands-on labs connect the dots between online coursework and clinical rotations. According to Carlee, they are extremely powerful. “Labs give you a chance to try out all the things you may have previously read or watched other people do,” she says.

Clinical Rotations

Taking place at some of Austin and Dallas’ leading healthcare facilities, nursing clinicals let you showcase the skills you’ve learned online and during labs. For ABSN graduate Ann Marie Nguyen, clinical rotations allowed her to experience the intricacies of nursing, from checking a patient’s vital signs to communicating with colleagues. Clinicals essentially give you a realistic taste of what it’s like to step into the shoes of a registered nurse.

5. Know How You Learn Best

Before beginning nursing school, it’s a good idea to get an idea of the optimal learning strategies for you. Because the ABSN track is an accelerated program, it moves at a fast pace, so efficiency is key. You want to ensure you’re using study methods that allow you to learn as well and as quickly as possible.

It’s a good idea to determine your learning preferences, so if you’re unsure of how your brain learns, complete the VARK survey. This will tell you whether you learn primarily through auditory, visual, reading and writing, or kinesthetic methods.

Once you know your learning style, you can use nursing school study methods that complement how you learn best. For example, if you’re a visual learner, you could plan to incorporate videos and diagrams into your studying. If you’re an auditory learner, you could listen to nursing podcasts.

6. Build a Strong Support System

As you prep for nursing school, you may be wondering “who can I lean on for support?” The first place is your family and friends, those closest to you. Before you begin nursing school, talk with these people, share your goal to become a nurse, and ask them for emotional support through this time.

Your support system can help in myriad ways, and many nursing students say having a good support system was instrumental in helping them succeed. That’s because these people can help ease your stress, act as a sounding board, and encourage you to keep working hard.

Through simple but meaningful acts, your support system can help you navigate the ABSN track. They can:

  • Talk with you over the phone
  • Meet you for a meal or coffee to unplug from studying
  • Babysit your children
  • Provide a home-cooked meal
  • Send notes of encouragement

7. Network at CTX

If you choose to attend nursing school at CTX, you’ll benefit from a campus culture that is student focused. Our faculty and instructors are committed to your success, so it’s important to go into the ABSN track with the intention to build relationships. At Concordia University Texas, you can rest assured that our entire nursing program has your best interest at heart.

Not only can a good network help you navigate the challenges of nursing school, but also these connections can act as references and help you professionally throughout your career. Our faculty and staff will be an invaluable resource to you throughout your 16-month journey and after you graduate, from helping you develop your professional network to writing you a recommendation letter.

“I 100% felt like my professors cared about me as a person and knew who I was,” Carlee says. “They were there to help me become a better nurse each step of the way.”

8. Prioritize Your Health

While you prep for nursing school, remember your overall wellbeing is of utmost importance as you embark on the journey to become a nurse. School will be your first priority over the next 16 months, but you also need to remember your personal needs. Staying well will keep you in the right frame of mind and help you stay mentally strong in your studies.

A few ways you can prioritize your wellness in nursing school include:

  • Eat healthy: Focus on well-rounded, healthy nutrition that will give you fuel. Plan meals with little prep time, and meal prep on weekends so you have healthy options accessible.
  • Take study breaks: As you plan your schedule for nursing school, its’ important to incorporate regular study breaks into your day. Take time to do activities you enjoy, and use that time to reset before you get back to studying.
  • Get sleep: When you are busy with nursing school, remember to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. This will help your retention and keep you on the top of your game.
  • Stay connected: Call family or friends for a quick chat to break up your day. Keeping in touch with people will decrease stress and help you relax.
  • See your doctor: Being in school isn’t a reason to miss important appointments, such as doctor or dentist visits or counseling sessions. Remember to take care of yourself first.

Ready to Start Your Nursing Journey?

Interested in learning more about the accelerated nursing track at Concordia University Texas? Now is the time to make a move. If you have at least 60 non-nursing college credits or a prior non-nursing bachelor’s degree, you may be eligible for the 16-month ABSN track.

Concordia University Texas - Nursing student smiling

Fill out our online form to connect with our admissions team. Your admissions counselor will answer your questions and help you see if CTX is right for you. Now is the time to begin working toward an ABSN at CTX and begin your journey to becoming a nurse.