I just finished my first year of nursing school. I am 49 years old and have four children, two of whom are in college and two are in high school. They are as much work as they were when they were little, just in different ways. My advice is for any nursing student but if you have to prepare meals and take care of others, this is for you.
I suggest doing anything you can to organize yourself. Spending time on studying rather than worrying about where something is or what is for dinner is beneficial. I coupon and knew I would not be able to do it during nursing school - oh so much truer than I thought. I was lucky to have a supply room where I kept all my goods from my couponing trips. I was able to go shopping (or send a kid or the husband with a list) for just milk, eggs, bread, etc. I had my freezer stocked with meals frozen in various stages to help with preparation time. I planned my menus for a month at a time and then took that list to make meals from during each week. We used up at least 60% of my coupon goods in the first year. I finally had to buy paper products this month which was sad! Meal preparation at my house (and eating for the kids) is really important. I could not skimp on that or there would be mutiny. There were times they were not happy having store bought pizza shells instead of homemade but it all worked out. Some of them even start to pitch in more and help me out so I can study. Right now I am planning for fall again. I am getting my plan ready to stock the pantry and the freezer for fall.
As far as the work goes for school, keep up on your reading and studying. Review your notes every day - seriously. If you have read it many many times rather than just memorize it before a test - it makes such a difference. Do NCLEX style questions whenever you have a chance. For $10 I bought an app on my phone that has the ati nclex questions on it. All my class handouts are on my kindle fire so I can study at any time. I write up my review notes and upload that as well to my kindle.
Keep organized with your paperwork. Make a schedule of what skills/tests/indicators you have to meet each semester. Other nursing schools seem to be like mine: Unforgiving. If you miss a date it is your responsibility to figure out how to meet the goal.
Do not whine. No matter what. Smile and say thank you very much. If they see your weakness or the fear in your eyes, you are toast. Figure it out - you can do it. Find a few friends in your class with a similiar work ethic and form an alliance. Share information and study together. We force each other to come to a study group prepared and then work on the same level of enlightenment.
Get an extra of anything that you could lose. If you can afford an extra uniform, get one. Keep it where you know where it is at ALL times. I have an extra stethoscope and watch in my clinical bag. I used to keep a special bag for clinicals but found I would take things out for lab days then not always put it back. My one friend loves having a separate bag. I check my bag before clinicals and load my pockets of my lab coat, check my pens, clip id on, etc. The important thing is to find out what works for YOU.
Sleep when you can. I used to never nap. I do now. If I know I need to stay up a little later to study, I grab a nap. It really helps. I dont like coffee so that was important to me. I found I will drink iced coffee now. Think about your sleep. The night before a test you need a good nights sleep - the magic number for me is 8 hours. I can think clear. Other days I am good on 6. Oh and most nursing instructors dont like yawns (and even sneezes) and have been known to ask students that yawn to leave.
Respect. This is really big at my school (and should be everywhere). Respect the instructors. Regardless of how many years you worked somewhere and how they changed dressings is different - doesnt matter. You wont pass a skill doing it the way you learned if it is not the same as the schools. RElearn it their way. Even if you dont agree with it, dont argue it. I have seen a lot of disrespect from BOTH sides of the desk.
Stay calm. You can work out any situation you are faced with - just stay calm and go through one step at a time. THINK. That is the key in nursing school - so just think it out and go forward.
This is the hardest thing I have ever done. I am working hard and at times I am exhausted - but I am doing it with good grades, and a meal on the table (most nights).