I gained the ability to hunker down and work hard to get something I want. My whole life, I've never finished anything, especially if it required tremendous effort (my mom calls me motivationally challenged). I'm incredibly lazy and always quit academically once it got intensive or I didn't grasp it right away, so it's a huge accomplishment to work two jobs, go full time, pull great grades and actually DO something. It's definitely molded me into someone who can succeed further up the educational ladder.
What did I lose? Well, I went for a quick 10-11 month LPN program because I wanted the instant gratification of being in the field and working ($$$). Now, I realize all the limitations in hiring, and it will be difficult to find anything outside of LTC or home health, since the local hospitals have recently stopped hiring LPNs and there are many RNs around willing to work for less pay. I'm confident that I can still find work upon graduation, but it won't be the kind of work I wanted to do initially. If I could do it all over again, I would have just gone the RN route. I thought after finishing the LPN program, I'd suddenly be gifted with everything I wanted career-wise, but I'll be in school for a very, very long time now.