How to Prepare for Nursing School Before You Start

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Student preparing for nursing school with stethoscope on table

You’re ready to go to nursing school, and your application is in, but before you begin, you want to make sure you’ll do well. Do you wonder how to prepare for nursing school before it starts? Nursing school, especially when completed at an accelerated pace, is a demanding educational feat. As such, being prepared and ready to tackle the challenge of nursing school with a solid plan in place will ease the transition.

We compiled this guide to help you know what you can do before nursing school starts to get ready and ensure you’re on track to start. After that, we’ll go through some key tips for how you can prepare to study and do well in your courses. We’ll help you gear up for the rigors of accelerated nursing school.

At Utica College, we are committed to making sure the students in our Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program will succeed in their studies and go on to have fulfilling careers. Let’s get started with our best tips for how to prepare for nursing school before you even step through the doors on your first day.

What to Do Before Nursing School Starts: 8 Steps

When it comes to starting nursing school, the first steps are choosing a program and applying.

Once you’ve submitted your nursing school application, received acceptance, and are waiting for nursing school to start, what should you make sure to check off your list?

1. Finish Your Prerequisites

Each nursing school will have slightly different required courses on their prerequisite list. Most schools require a mix of biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology courses. Check the website or talk with the school’s admission representative to ensure you are on track to finish all your prerequisites before the program start date.

If you have specific questions about Utica College’s prerequisite courses, you can view our prerequisite page. Some schools, including ours, offer a PREP program for taking prerequisite courses online — a great option that allows you to earn contingent admission into the ABSN program as well. 

2. Submit Your Official Transcript

If you applied to your nursing program using an unofficial transcript, make sure to obtain an official transcript from your prior college(s) before you start classes. This will ensure you can register for classes, receive financial aid and qualify for scholarships.

3. Organize Your Relocation Details

Many students need to relocate for nursing school, and this can be a great change of pace. But if you’re relocating to a new city for nursing school, then planning your move well in advance is one of the most important ways to prepare for nursing school. Spend time visiting the city and touring apartments so you can find a quality apartment or home within your budget.

Figure out how you will navigate your move, whether you’ll be driving your stuff to the new city or hiring a moving company. Talk with your new landlord, and make sure you get all your utilities, water and gas set up for your new place.

You’ll also need Wi-Fi in your new place starting the first day of classes, so it’s a good idea to set this up before you begin. If possible, move in at least a few days before classes start so you can unpack and settle into your new home.

4. Plan Your Finances

Nursing school is a large undertaking, both personally and financially. It’s wise to get your financial plan in place before you begin. Figure out how you are going to pay for school, and complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) if you are interested in applying for government loans or grants.

Additionally, you’d be wise to set as many bills as possible onto autopay. This way, you won’t have to think about them during nursing school. Make a budget, allocating money for rent, groceries, leisure, childcare and insurance. Once you know how you want to designate your finances and pay for loans, this can all run on autopilot while you work through nursing school.

If you have questions about tuition or finances at Utica College’s ABSN program, reach out to our admission representatives, and we will help guide you to resources so you can create a personalized plan that works for you.

5. Purchase Nursing School Supplies

While you are awaiting the start of school, now is a good time to shop around for the necessary nursing school supplies, including:

  • Stethoscope
  • Penlight
  • Supportive shoes for clinical rotations
  • Lab coat
  • School-branded scrubs
  • Compression socks
  • Nursing scissors
  • Textbooks or computer equipment needed for classes

6. Get Immunized

For nursing students to obtain access into healthcare organizations and safely care for patients during clinicals, it’s vital to ensure they are adequately vaccinated against a range of pathogens.

Ask the admission representative at your school for a list of required vaccinations, and schedule an appointment to get them all completed before you begin classes. Completing this step ahead of time will mean you’ll have one less task on your to-do list, giving you more time for studying once school starts.

7. Review the Curriculum

Before you begin nursing classes, it’s a good idea to brush up on how the ABSN program works at your school. What classes will you take first semester? What is the schedule like?

Read up about the program’s learning format so you won’t be overwhelmed when you start. At Utica College, our 16-month ABSN program is a hybrid program, meaning students learn through three components:

During orientation, you will learn more about what you can expect from each course and what your daily schedule will be like, but it’s helpful to have a good idea of the format ahead of time.

8. Get Support from Family and Friends

You are about to embark on a challenging educational curriculum, and you will need to stay focused for the next 16 months of accelerated nursing school. Before you start school, talk with your close family and friends about your aspirations and goals with nursing. Explain to them that you will be busy, and tell them you will need to prioritize school for a while.

Four Utica ABSN students

When you reach out to the people close to you, they will then be ready to jump in during nursing school to provide stress-relief and emotional support. They can help you by calling on the phone, writing encouraging notes and taking you out for dinner when you pass a test.

These people care about you, and they want to be involved in your success. During this time before nursing school, enlist them to give you the emotional support you will need to succeed in accelerated nursing school.

4 Key Study Tips to Help You Prepare for Nursing School

Before accelerated nursing school starts, you should also think about how you can set yourself up to do well in a rigorous nursing curriculum. You may not have needed to study much during your previous college courses, so this time around may be different. Reflect on your past study success, and analyze how you can optimize your study technique.

Let’s dig into some great study tips that you should take with you as you prepare to begin nursing school.

1. Create a Study Schedule, and Stick to It

Organization is key when you are in an accelerated nursing program. You’ll have many responsibilities, and you’ll need to balance multiple courses.

Think about when and where you study best, for you can tailor your online coursework to your unique study needs. Plan out specific times of the day for studying, and keep them consistent and at times when your mind is sharp. Also remember to set aside study time on the weekends so you don’t get behind.

Then keep yourself accountable to stick to your schedule. Don’t schedule other activities or run errands when you should be studying. This will ensure you spend enough time learning the material.

2. Optimize Your Downtime

During accelerated nursing school, efficiency is key to learning. You need to learn at a fast pace, so layering studying into any crevices during your day will make sure you can study while also having time to unwind and decompress.

It’s easy to lose efficiency with your studying, but the simple act of using downtime effectively will help you learn faster. Whether you are at school, at the gym or at home, you can optimize downtime. Here are a few examples to consider as you prepare for the start of nursing school:

  • Use downtime by doing practice questions or flashcards when you are not busy.
  • Study while working out. Listen to a lecture while running or lifting, or do flashcards while riding an indoor bike.
  • Bring your backpack or notes with you. Whether you’re waiting in line or waiting between classes, you can pull out your notes for five or 10 minutes and make the most out of that time.

3. Incentivize Yourself with a Reward System

It can be difficult when you first start nursing school to stay motivated with your new study routine. A helpful way to combat the urge to stop studying prematurely is to create a rewards system for yourself.

Think about what you value, and use that item or activity as fuel to complete tasks. Give yourself regular rewards to keep yourself engaged and focused.

For example, after two hours of studying, reward yourself by taking a walk, grabbing a snack or listening to music. Then after you finish studying for the night, reward yourself by reading, watching a show or talking with friends.

This method of incrementally rewarding yourself for a job well done will keep you motivated while also helping you balance nursing school with the other parts of life.

4. Remember Self-Care to Stay Balanced

While studying is the major factor at play with success in nursing school, you should remember to balance school with self-care. At the beginning of school, you may be inclined to study all the time and not make any time for your hobbies and social activities. That’s OK as you figure out your study needs, but it’s not sustainable long-term.

As you gain solid footing with your coursework and study schedule, remember to make time for the other parts of life you value. This will help you stay sane and motivated for the entirety of accelerated nursing school. You won’t have much free time, so make the most of the time you do have, and spend it on activities you enjoy.

Whether you’re passionate about cooking, reading, spending time with your children, playing basketball or something else, take time to do those things. You can create intentional space in your schedule for these parts of life, and doing so will help you maintain balance and internal wellness throughout nursing school.

Utica nursing students in skills lab

Interested in Getting Started with Nursing School?

Now you understand the steps for how to prepare for nursing school, so take what you learned and use it to excel in your nursing education.

If you haven’t yet applied for nursing school, but you have 65 college credits or a prior bachelor’s degree, then you are a great candidate for Utica College’s accelerated nursing program. We are dedicated to bringing your nursing goals to life. Get started today by contacting one of our admission representatives.

The Ultimate Nursing School Admissions Checklist

Ready for nursing school but stressed about applying? We recommend downloading our free admissions checklist to learn the important ins and outs of applying to accelerated nursing school.

The ultimate nursing school admissions checklist