The long and winding...pre-req road
In two years I could be a nurse! Going back to college, length of program was a big factor that lead me to choose an ADN-RN route. Little did I know...
"Only 16 months til you have a nursing degree!" Every time I opened a new page, somehow that advertisement popped up. Maybe because I was deep into research on what new career would be perfect for me- a career that paid well, offered time with family, job satisfaction, and quick training in my area, getting hired immediately. Sure, I was thinking something in the medical field this time around, because it had always been an interest, and the hospitals in my area always seemed to be hiring. Would I be a good respiratory therapist? Rad tech? Ultrasound? Dental assistant? Occupational therapist? Or nurse?
I read up on all the forums trying to get a sense of what each entailed. Perused the business journals that ran lists of the best bang for the buck degrees. Then looked at nearby colleges and universities to see what was offered.
What I found out was, (no surprise!) the ads lie. Even with a previous bachelor's degree in music theory (yay me!! Followed my passion!) There was no way I would be finishing ANY of those degrees in 16 months. Because of pre-requisites.
I knew it had been decades since I'd done any math or science, so I was fully prepared to brush up on subjects that had never been my main focus the first time around. It would get me in the learning zone! Keep the brain dusted off and free from Alzheimer's! What I was unprepared for was how seemingly illogical and un-student friendly the whole process was.
By that time I had realized most of the career programs I was looking at had the exact same prerequisites- college algebra and chemistry. In order to qualify for the proper chemistry, I had to test into a high enough math. Otherwise that would tack on another semester or so of remedial math before I was allowed to sign up for any useful Chemistry. I was determined not to let that happen to me, so began to attempt online tests similar to Accuplacer
while reading math textbooks and watching YouTube tutorials. (Ok,not at the same time)
And success! I made it straight into college algebra after 28 years out of school! Should be ready to finish math and chemistry in a year, and start the ADN program the following fall, right? If only it could have been that easy. My community college has waiting lists for all medical majors. They only take applications during January and February. At that time, your pre reqs have to be completely done. So my chemistry had to be done in the first fall semester. Which was impossible.
There was one class offered that covered the complete Intro to Chemistry in one semester. It had been full for months, and had a huge waiting list. Or I could get a special dispensation to take General Chemistry 141, which was not for pre nursing students, but people who actually wanted to major in sciences. I had no idea if I could handle it, and was very intimidated to try. Or I could take the Intro to Chemistry that needed two semesters, and give up my one year for pre reqs idea. I asked if there were any other paths my advisor had. He suggested taking it online at a different college. Right. I was going to take an intimidating science all by myself at home. Great idea.
I decided to go the slightly longer route I was fairly confident I could handle, and do the slower Intro to Chem. Since I hadn't fully decided on nursing, and wanted to keep occupational therapy in my back pocket, I decided to round out the college algebra and chemistry with other classes I would need as pre reqs for that. (The occupational therapy program required 10 different classes before I could join the masters level but given the nature of, "you can't do this until you do that and we only offer this every other semester and don't offer this class at all so you will have to take it at a different college and this is all going to put you over $84k in debt" I decided eventually not to pursue that career) The next year while I waited to apply in February I could tackle A&P and the various other Microbiologies and Psychs I would need in the program. Then I could focus on the nursing part of the program since all my other classes would be done.
The actual classes turned out to be challenging and fun. I had a fresh appreciation for learning and the crazy beauty of the universe. At the same time I was terrified of making a misstep and somehow prolonging this full time student+ part time job+4 kids and a husband needing attention thing I was attempting to juggle. So I was very proactive at seeing my advisor, changing my advisor when I found out they gave me the head of English department? as my advisor, and generally staying on top of things. The next semester my confidence as a student had grown to the point where I decided to take the General Chemistry instead of the second half of the Intro to Chemistry because I wanted more of a challenge. If only I had taken it the first semester! But on the other hand, the much easier Intro to Chem may have prepared me to get to that point.
So when I met with my advisor to schedule for the next year, I was not expecting what he said. He told me to stay home. I had already done all the pre reqs, and to continue to qualify for state grants during nursing college, I couldn't take unneeded classes in the meantime. As it was, I had too many credits for them to pay for my last semester once I was in the nursing program. This was not because they had accepted many of my prior credits- they hadn't. It was that they weren't allowed to pay for four years of full time credits when the program was theoretically 2 years.
So I took a year off, watched a little Crash Course and Khan academy to make sure I did well on the TEAS despite not taking Biology or A&P the last 29 years (or more? Pretty sure it was in 9th grade) and filled out the application twice since I turned it in too early in December and they ended up changing the application by January. And then the waiting. I wasn't even sure what to expect! A letter? Email? Phone call?
It was a phone call. From a very disinterested sounding Brittany who informed me the program leadership wanted to do an interview with me. There was nothing about an interview anywhere in the literature or on the website! Neither of my advisors had mentioned it either. I turned to allnurses for ideas on what to say and what to leave out, and the community gave me some great talking points. My interviewer told me I would probably be notified by the end of the week. When I called to find out what was happening the next week, Brittany monotoned that I would hear by the end of the month. Longest 3 weeks of my life until I finally got the letter!
And now my life will change forever in so many ways! I look forward to making a life and death difference to people- hopefully much more on the life side. I decided to start by letting all the lurkers who haven't started pre reqs know what they could be in for, while I'm waiting. If you could learn from my story, it is that you need patience and flexibility on your learning journey, because things won't go the way you think they should. And that's probably great training for being a nurse!
Finally got my acceptance letter! My second act is going to be nursing for better or worse!
Joined Feb '17; Posts: 118; Likes: 132.May 13, '17Congratulations. When I got my letter, I ran to my neighbors screaming in excitement. She was an OR nurse but retired. She shared my excitement but at the same time was a little freaked out about my unwanted hug as soon as she opened the door! haha :PMay 13, '17Quote from AndrewCraigRNThat's so great!!!Congratulations. When I got my letter, I ran to my neighbors screaming in excitement. She was an OR nurse but retired. She shared my excitement but at the same time was a little freaked out about my unwanted hug as soon as she opened the door! haha :PMay 15, '17Congratulations! I would also add that it does take a long time as most community colleges are focused on helping individuals get their Associates or their first Bachelors. While I understand that this is the purpose of community colleges and accept that as a returning student, I would be given a very low priority in terms of course registration, it is hard to have to go the long route so to speak in order to complete all the pre-reqs. I'm almost done with pre-reqs after 2 years and taking each course slowly but surely so the best advise I can give is to have patience. If you want to go into nursing and that is your calling, your hard work will eventually pay off. Good luck to everyone that is also on the same road!May 22, '17Thanks for sharing and congratulations! I put off going back to school for nursing for so long because the thought of adding one year just to complete pre-reqs seemed daunting! Finally realized If I start them now I will be inin JUST a year and that a year is not very long.
Finishing my first quarter in a few weeks and am registered for the next two! YAY! I also am learning to have a plan A, plan B, plan B.2, plan C... But plan C is pretty good tooMay 23, '17That's funny - I still remember the very MOMENT I realized it wasn't going to be a typical two-year ADN program. Not only that, I had never taken chemistry in high school, so I had to take that before I could take A&P, which meant an extra semester on top of it all.
Must Read Topics