For starters, I hope that you have already heard that nursing school
is no walk on the beach. Expect it to be difficult - the questions that you see at the end of your text book chapters are way easier than you will ever see on the tests. I can't stress this enough - USE YOUR NCLEX REVIEW BOOK TO STUDY. Make it your nursing school bible. I had a professor tell me last spring that at the last convention she went to in Athens, they told instructors not to teach from the textbook, but from the NCLEX book. Honestly, I studied my NCLEX book more the first quarter than my text for nursing 101. The DVD's that come with the book are also very helpful and cut a lot of time out of reading. I think more of my classmates had an easier time with 102 than 101, simply because the questions are more cut-and-dry.
That being said, as far as the campus that I go to - I don't have too many positives to say about it. There is 1 good instructor out of the entire pool who doesn't stand and read verbatim right off the computer screen for the entire 5 hours class is in session. (And I've heard this about other campuses too.) The professors and the book will often disagree, but if a significant percentage of the class does miss the question, they will likely give credit for it. Expect that to happen more as the quarter goes on and they see just how many people in the class are below an 80%...When it comes right down to people not passing, they'll do almost anything for ya'll to get as many people to pass as they possibly can so they don't look bad.
Don't expect organization - my class asked for a list of dates for all of our check offs, projects, etc. and our 101 instructor said that was simply not possible, and here was her reason: "Because the lab coordinator has the HESI tests to contend with, and she doesn't know when she has to give those, so she can't restrict her schedule too far in advance." So, needless to say, by the 7th week we were all running around like chickens with our heads cut off because we had a test in both classes (over 6 chapters in each class) two weeks in a row, we had a 10 page paper due, with a presentation the following week, and head-to-toe assessment on top of our normal workload.
Finally, the flip side is, our clinical instructors were wonderful!! I couldn't have asked for a better mentor for my first quarter. If it hadn't of been for her, I don't know how many in my clinical group would have made it through! She taught us how to be "real world nurses" and not "book nurses." Oh, and if you're hearing any rumors about your campus, I would go directly to the director and talk to him/her, or call the Ohio BON education department. I found out that a lot of the rumors about my campus simply were not true.
In short, study, study, study, stay organized, and don't forget to catch a few hours of shut eye! This all may sound scary, and I hope your first quarter experience goes better than mine, but once you get through first quarter you'll feel as though you can accomplish anything (trust me, I switched to nursing from astrophysics and I thought I had seen worse, but I quickly learned)!!
Oh, and cut back on working as many hours as you possibly can because it will make things so much less stressful on you.