going back to nursing school at 30

A Guide to Going Back to School for Nursing

Are you seeking a career change, and considering going back to school for nursing? Or, are you a seasoned RN looking to advance your nursing education? Read this guide for advice on going back to school and finding success as a nurse.

Going back to school for nursing is a major decision. It’s no secret that nursing school can be strenuous and challenging at times, especially for those who are balancing other obligations. However, nursing school can lead you to one of the most exciting, fulfilling, and valued professions out there. It can provide you with the skills and qualifications to help others – and to save lives.

Especially in a post-pandemic era, nurses are a mainstay in the healthcare system. Perhaps that is why you are here. You may feel inspired by the pandemic – and the hard work of nurses – to make a change in your career. You may feel called to the nursing profession now, more than ever, because you wish to help people in need. Or, maybe you already work in the nursing field, but wish to level-up in your career. You may want to have a greater impact, expand your opportunities, and advance your skillsets. No matter your situation, these are all great reasons to go back to school for nursing.

Of course, taking that first step is not always easy. Going back to school requires an investment in both time and money. Not to mention, it can be intimidating. You may feel scared to leave your current job. You may be unsure how you will balance caring for your family, working, and attending nursing school. You may feel like you will be the only 30- or 40-year-old in your nursing cohort, and won’t be able to keep up. But, there is good news:

The Benefits of Going Back to School for Nursing as an Adult

     1. You are not alone.

According to NursingLicensure.org, nursing students as a whole are typically older than the average college student. Most students in undergraduate nursing programs (associate and bachelor’s degrees) are between their late 20s and 30s. However, it’s never too late to go back to school for nursing, no matter your age. As long as you are motivated and ready to put in the work, you will excel in your nursing program.

     2. You are focused on the future.

Another benefit of going back to college as an adult, no matter your career path, is that you are more career-driven and focused than the traditional, younger generation of students. You know what you want in your career and you know the steps you need to achieve it. As a prospective nurse, your success in nursing school can lead to your licensure to practice, advanced certifications, professional networking opportunities, and more.

     3. You can balance nursing school with other obligations.

While nursing school is a commitment, most students do not realize that there is great flexibility, too. Not all nursing schools require a full-time course load. Not all nursing programs require you to be on-campus for its entirety. Some nursing schools are even willing to adapt to your needs and schedule, should you need to maintain your current career. At Goodwin University, nursing students have the option to complete part-time courses, evening and weekend courses, and even online classes. Depending on the program, you can find different scheduling options and formats to meet your needs at the time.

     4. Nursing school can be affordable.

Right now, you may be anxious about tuition costs. You’ve already paid for a college education once, and may be worried that this next investment will set you back. This is a common concern when going back to school. However, it is important to do your research. There are financial aid opportunities, tuition assistance, scholarships, and other offerings available to make your schooling more affordable. If you are currently working as a nurse and looking to advance your degree, you may talk to your employer about the possibility of helping with tuition. Additionally, no matter your situation, you can talk to each school’s financial aid team about the options available. Most students (about 94%) at Goodwin University receive financial aid in the form of grants or scholarships. This is on top of offering one of the lowest tuition costs for private, non-profit schools in Connecticut.

     5. You will find success as a nurse.

The world is in need of nurses. As the baby boomer age reaches retirement age, and brings us to record numbers for an elderly population, the nation will require nurses to fill open positions and provide healthcare services to those in need. For this reason, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that there will be about 194,500 annual job openings for registered nurses, each year through 2030. If you are looking to break into a nursing career, you are bound to encounter opportunities after nursing school. You can also expect a rewarding salary, with RNs earning an average of $77,600 per year in the United States.

Additionally, if you are a seasoned nurse and looking to advance your career, going back to school for nursing can lead you to success. A Bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN) is becoming a requirement for many employers, so if you don’t have a BSN, earning one can position you for more employment opportunities. Or, if you are seeking to get a Master’s in Nursing (MSN), you can qualify for high-paying leadership positions in healthcare administration, education, advanced practice, and more.

Furthermore, an advanced nursing degree can position you for higher pay. It is estimated that BSN degree holders earn about 10 percent higher than associate degree holders, according to a survey from Nurse.org. MSN educated nurses can earn even more. For example, APRNs with an MSN degree earn, on average, 36% more than RNs holding a BSN degree.

No matter which path you are taking in nursing school, you are bound to reap the rewards after graduation. Now, how do you get started? Let’s find out.

Changing Careers & Going Back to School for Nursing

If you are completely new to nursing, there are a few different degree paths you can take:

  • Associate degree in Nursing (ADN)
  • Entry-level Bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN)
  • Accelerated Bachelor’s in Nursing (ABSN)

The associate degree in Nursing is a great step forward if you are brand-new to nursing and do not yet have a bachelor’s degree. This is an entry-level degree path that takes just two years to complete, allowing you to train and enter the workforce fast. Entry-level nurses also have the option to pursue a Bachelor’s in Nursing, which is a four-year degree program for first-time nurses and college students.

However, what if you have already been to school and earned a bachelor’s degree? You do not need to start from scratch. Even if your bachelor’s degree was in a major completely unrelated to nursing, it can help you accelerate your nursing degree. An accelerated BSN program is specifically designed for those who are changing careers into nursing. ABSN students have completed a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing major, from an accredited college or university, but wish to go back to school for nursing.

Depending on which program you choose, your path to getting there will look a bit different.

Entry-Level ADN and BSN Requirements:

While nursing schools all have different admissions requirements, the following steps are typically recommended for those beginning an associate or Bachelor’s in Nursing for the first time:

  1. Complete the application for admission to your college or university of choice
  2. Complete an application for the nursing program
  3. Provide official college transcripts for any prior education
  4. Take the examination for pre-admission from the Nursing Department
  5. Earn a GPA of 2.7 or higher in most recent coursework
  6. Complete prerequisite courses in Chemistry, Biology, and Math (varies by institution)
  7. Complete a medical examination to ensure good physical and mental health
  8. Become certified in Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
  9. Complete a background check and drug screening

Accelerated BSN Requirements:

If you are changing careers and applying to an ABSN program, you will need to:

  1. Complete the application for admission to your college or university of choice
  2. Complete an application for the ABSN program
  3. Prove completion of your prior bachelor’s degree, from an accredited institution, with official college transcripts
  4. Earn a minimum GPA of 3.0 in your most recent college coursework
  5. Successfully pass the exam for pre-admission from the Nursing Department
  6. Complete the necessary prerequisite courses which may include Chemistry, Statistics, Lifespan Development, and Biology (varies by institution)
  7. Complete a medical examination to ensure good physical and mental health
  8. Become certified in Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
  9. Complete a background check and drug screening

Going Back to School to Advance Your Nursing Degree

If you have received your associate degree in Nursing and wish to level-up your career, this can be a momentous decision. More and more employers are requiring Bachelor’s in Nursing degrees, as research shows BSN-educated nurses provide a high-level of quality patient care. Fortunately, if you are already a licensed RN, earning a BSN degree does not require four years in school. There are flexible, fast-paced programs designed exactly for you.

An RN-to-BSN degree program is specifically for licensed registered nurses who have an associate degree or diploma, and are going back to school to pursue a Bachelor’s in Nursing. These programs are typically offered entirely online, and in a part-time format, so that nurses can continue working while going to school. At Goodwin, the RN-to-BSN program can be completed part-time in 16 months or be designed to meet your individual needs.

To be eligible for an RN-to-BSN program, you simply need to have your RN license.

If you already have a BSN degree in hand and wish to take that even further by going back to school, graduate nursing programs are also available. The most common pathway is a Master’s in Nursing (MSN). MSN degrees are offered in various specializations, depending on your professional goals. If you wish to continue in clinical patient care, you may become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) through a specialized MSN degree. You may also become a nurse leader, manager, or administrator through a broader MSN program. You can carve your own pathway and continue learning as a nurse. And in many cases, you can do so entirely online. Typically, a BSN degree from an accredited nursing school is what’s required to enter a master’s degree program, though requirements will vary by school.

Are You Ready to Go Back to School for Nursing?

Nursing school enrollment is on the rise. According to new data released by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), student enrollment in entry-level nursing programs, Master’s in Nursing programs, and doctoral nursing programs are all on the rise. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, more people decided to pursue their passion and apply to nursing school.

As stated by Dr. Susan Bakewell-Sachs, Chair of the AACN Board of Directors, “AACN is pleased to see across-the-board increases in nursing school enrollments given our commitment to encouraging all nurses to advance their education as a catalyst for improving patient care and keeping communities safe.”

If you wish to care for your community and improve the health of others, now is the time to get involved. Goodwin University’s nursing school is here to help you get started. Learn about our nursing programs online, or call for more information at 800-889-3282