I usually don't reply to posts (just like to read and obtain info), but you sound exactly like me!!! So, I felt compelled to respond.
I had worked in advertising for 10 years and then realized I needed something more in my life. I moved home (to Oklahoma City) from Phoenix where I had a successful career, earned good money and owned my own house. I realized that I needed to get out of the evil business world and try something new. So, I quit my job, sold my house and have been living on student loans for the past 3 years. I have to say it's the best thing I ever did - I don't regret a single day and certainly don't look back.
I am 35 now and started from scratch. I have a BA from the University of Arizona so I had no prereqs that a science degree would require. I am a "senior" nursing student at UCO and although they did accept classes from my first degree such as English, math, etc, I needed to take all the sciences before I could apply for the nursing program. These were biology, chem, micro, physiology, anatomy. UCO also asks its pre nursing students to take three classes before applying to their program - Intro to nursing, fundamentals of nursing and individual and family development (also called developmental psych). I knew I was taking a risk because my first degree GPA was HORRIBLE!!!! I also knew that I had to bust my butt in these pre req classes to get my GPA up to apply for the UCO program. So, I did and I got in! It really depends on how much you want it! So this is what I know...my answers to your questions:
1. Accelerated classes are quite simply a *****. I have friends who just graduated this June (or July?) from OU's accelerated program and they had a hard time. OU is a great school! And, I would definitely not deter you from going there, but think about your learning style and whether you can cram 2 years of nursing school into 13-14 months. If this fits you, then go for it! In addition, nursing schools look at your TOTAL GPA - not just some or part - the whole thing. But, as a saving grace, they also require other things to help you get in such as references and science GPA (by itself in additon to total GPA). I am, of course, talking about BSN schools. Associate degree schools might be a little different - I am not familar with their requirements. Remember, you can get an RN through a four year BSN school OR a two year associate school. RN's are RN's - we all take the same licensure exam (NCLEX). I chose to get my bachelors because I may choose to go into management or get my masters later on down the road - want to keep my options open.
2. As for pay after graduation - well that's a little scary. I know you will know what I am talking about since you have been working in MIS. Starting pay rates for new grads in metro Oklahoma City hospitals average out to $18/hr. Full time is considered 36 hours/week - most people like to work 12 hour shifts so they only have to work 3 days a week. In addition, night and weekend differentials can vary between $2.50 and $5.00. So, if you decide to work a 7p-7a shift on a Saturday night - that shift could be worth around $23 for 12 hours - but remember that is ONE night not every night. To make extra money, some people work per diem shifts at another hospital where pay can be anywhere from $25-$35 an hour but that's only a supplement because per diem might only be 2 days a month. I have to say that I was making a hell of a lot more in the business world, but you know, that's okay. I am happy and I know from experience that money doesn't make you happy. Question where you feel happiest - behind a desk and a computer or caring for people on a daily basis (or at least 3 days a week
3. Yes, yes, yes. You can get financial aid. However, OTAG (Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant) just passed a new rule that they will not be giving grants to those who have already received their bachelors degree. So, you will most likely be taking out loans unless you get another grant or scholarship
somewhere else. I reccommend using Fastweb. You can sign up for their service and they will alert you through email when a new scholarship comes through that you can apply for.
4. Most likely, you will have to take some prereqs so studying on your own won't be an issue.
So, with that said. I would first decide what type of degree you would like to get and how much time and money you are willing to give up for that degree. Once you have researched that and decided your direction, I would contact those schools for their requirements. And if I could give a little plug for UCO, I LOVE it!!! The teachers are great, the clinicals are amazing and the environment is supportive. I have had such a great experience at UCO - they really prepare you for the real world and learning is actually fun. I hope this helps you, Damaris. Let me know if can be of assistance to you.