Yes, the LPN program is relative new (started in Jan 2008, I think), but it has some advantages over the RN program.
o You get a full 3-semester hour pharmacy course, not just 1-semester hour in the RN program.
o It is a much smaller program than RN, so you get MUCH more support from faculty.
o It's really a 3 or 4 semester program including "co-requsites" which are really prerequisites, because you'll flounder in either program if you try to take them while you're taking the nursing courses. The RN program is really about 7-9 semesters. The LPN program is officially 2 semesters and the RN program officially 4. HA!
(SO WHY NOT JUST GET A BSN, you ask? Two reasons: 1) you can do community college part time in a shorter time than you can do a 4-year program part time and 2) where do you think you get a better full-time education as a nurse, 4 years in a 4-year school with lots of other requirements for graduation, or 3-4 years in a 2-year school with few other requirements?
o You don't have to take the useless "assessment" course that's required in the RN program. You learn the REAL stuff in clinicals in the LPN program.
o You enter the LPN program at a higher level (CNA certification is required for LPN, but not RN) so teaching is generally much more advanced. Almost all LPN students are currently working in the field.
o LPNs can get jobs in doctor's offices if they want, but not hospitals, so they work 8 hrs/day, days only, not 12-hour days with possible on-call and rotation as in hospitals.
o Easy entrance into the "2nd year of nursing education" to upgrade to a RN in only 2 semesters at many colleges and universities (not at Parkland, though).
o You have to pass the final exam in each course (75% or better) in the LPN program, but you DON'T have to pass the final exam in ANY course in the RN program if your weekly quiz scores are high enough. So if you can cram for short tests each week but then forget what you just studied, the RN program is for you. They do require a "passing" grade on industry-standard tests at the end of courses, but what is "passing" is pretty slippery. Retake the test until you pass, I think. OK, WHY IS THIS AN ADVANTAGE OF LPN over RN PROGRAM? (Hint: which nurse would you like taking care of YOU).
o The LPN program is less selective (as of this writing) than the RN program, so it's easier to get in.
o You don't have to take a SAT/ACT-type exam, the TEAS, to get into the LPN program like you do the RN program. You'll have to show math and English competency to enter either program -- by testing or by taking a course.
o Pass pharmacology in your first semester of the LPN program, and the faculty will support you (but you'll WORK for it!) the rest of the way through. Failure in the RN program is a constant threat.
o Currently all LPN students who pass pharm are graduating on time. The RN program has the same attrition as most other RN programs: only about half each entering class graduates on time.
LPNs have less prestige, but the only thing they REALLY can't do that an RN can, is push IV meds. BUT if you don't plan to work as a floor nurse in an acute care hospital, you won't be doing that anyway.
No hospital jobs in C-U for LPNs, only jobs in doc's offices or long term care.
There are generally LOTS more jobs for RNs than LPNs.
Pay might be $1/hr less than RN pay.
If you want to go on and get an RN at Parkland, it'll cost you another semester of part time study (offered Spring semester only as of this writing) plus a year of full time study. Lots of other schools offer a better deal.
Of course, these advantages/disadvantages apply only to Parkland College in Champaign. It may (probably is) different at other schools.