Hi, I understand that you're having a difficult time with this decision, it is basically giving your life up for 2-2.5 years. I am a student finishing up Quincy College right now, and I applied in 1/03 and started doing pre-requisites, and I will graduate 1/18/08. The thing with Quincy is that there is a two year waiting list for the program, you are welcome to apply, but there are around 30 seats and usually 400+ applicants every fall. And while you can take your pre-requisites while you are waiting, if you already have most of yours done then what will you do with that time?
The thing a few of my classmates did which worked out well for them is they took the 10 month LPN course, got jobs working as nurses (making 25-32.00 hourly,not too shabby..), then came back to finish out the additional year to become RNs. You don't get the exact same study base as you do if you go RN the whole way through, but you are able to enter the workforce and defray the cost while also having the advantage of being in the exact setting that you are studying about. The average RN student in my class is barely passing with around a 73-76 average. The average LPN in my class is pulling 80s. Food for thought-if I had it to do over again, I would have chosen this route, as I have been broke for years now between tuition, books and taking time away from work to study!
The second year is around 30 hours a week in independent study time, and about 12.5 hours of class/clinical time. Yes, it is only two nights a week and the clinicals are flexible so if you are put into a clinical that is a bad night to care for your mom, chances are you'll be able to switch your clinical night with one of the other 20 something people in your class, however there is approximately 10-15 chapters in several different textbooks that is required reading every week. If you don't read, you won't pass the tests. The tests are sooo much harder than any prerequisite course, I was pulling A's in all my classes and now I am a C- student, and I'm going at full steam doing all the studying.
The benefit is, that that two 1/2 years flies by, I feel like I just started. But if you already have acceptance into a school without the waiting list, that is half the hurdle right there, just getting in!!!
Good luck, I hope I haven't made things even worse for you!!