How to Succeed in Nursing School Night Classes
Most people, when told to envision a classroom, will think of a room with desks or tables, maybe a podium, and a large window, filling the room with sunlight. That last part is significant because, like most jobs, most educational settings occur during the day. When we imagine ourselves in school or a new job, we think of it taking place on a 9-5 schedule — for better or for worse.
It may be typical for colleges to operate during the day, but there are many exceptions, since many people cannot leave their current jobs to take classes. That’s one of the benefits of adulthood: you get to choose where and when you receive your education.
Enter nursing night school. Many (if not most) qualified nursing candidates are busy adults who have a day job or take care of a family or are doing both. Night classes at nursing students to receive a top-notch education at a time that works with their schedule. And while it’s true that taking classes at night does require some adjustment, you don’t have to be night owl to thrive in the environment. With a few simple additions and adjustments to your routine, you might actually like being an evening scholar.
First, get organized
This is something you’ll hear throughout your entire training as a nurse, day or night, because it’s true from your first day of nursing school: You need to be organized! Mentally and physically note when and where you need to be at work, in class, picking up kids, or running errands. Make a plan for what day and time you’ll to shop for groceries, and when you’ll do laundry, and how you’ll prepare meals. Whether it’s a three-ringed binder, a more traditional organizer, an app, or all three, finding a tool that will help you keep track of your schedule, chores, and assignments is key.
Also, keep copies of your syllabi on hand, and think about adding all of your reading, writing, and exam dates to one central calendar. Know which weeks you have exams, when clinical rotations begin, and what personal responsibilities may change as the semester unfolds. This week-by-week organization will help ensure you won’t miss anything, and won’t have to rifle through different papers to remember your assignments.
Related resources: How to Survive Your First Week in Nursing School
Eat beforehand, but bring a snack, too
Few things will drag you down faster than low blood sugar. Eat a light dinner before class so you won’t be starving halfway through your lectures. Try to avoid heavy, rich foods, and try not to eat too much. You don’t want to succumb to that sluggish, sleepy feeling you get after eating a huge meal! Bring a small snack or two — like dried fruit, cheese, or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich — to munch on during breaks. Just make sure that you pick something nutritious (and quiet!) that will give you the boost of energy you’ll need to make it through the evening.
Communicate with your boss and family
Juggling a job, a family, friends, or all of the above while in nursing school is no small feat. Adding night classes into the mix can make it even harder. That’s why learning to communicate effectively with your loved ones, friends, and boss will be of the utmost importance.
Most of the time, your class schedule will stay the same, but there will be times where you need more flexibility than normal, and may need to show up to class early, meet with a group, or stay late to talk with an instructor. Make sure you, your spouse, and your kids are on the same page when it comes to everyone’s schedule. Taking a few extra minutes on Sundays to make sure there is a plan in place for all activities for the upcoming week — school, work, and extracurricular fun — will relieve some stress and last-minute planning.
If you work during the day, keep your boss in the loop when it comes to your semester schedule. Let her or him know immediately if anything changes. And remember to give yourself some wiggle room, if possible. Jam-packing your schedule day in and day out will only make you exhausted.
Related resources: How to Survive Your Overnight Nursing Clinical Shift
Find your groove
At times, nursing school will take every ounce of energy you have. If you’re not prepared, however, the tough moments will be 10 times harder. You should enter your first nursing school night class with optimism, because you’re fulfilling your dream and following your calling, but be realistic too, understanding that most worthwhile things will be difficult. It won’t be easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
Thousands of nursing students have braved and completed nursing school at night before you, and there’s a very real light at the end of the tunnel. Nursing school night classes may be difficult, but they won’t last forever. By keeping a detailed calendar, communicating with your boss and loved ones, and eating right, you’ll find your groove in no time and come out on top.