Published Apr 23, 2014
for those of you who are enrolled in an online program, how do you like it? would you recommend it?
TashaLPN2006RN2012, ASN, RN
So far I love my experience. I currently attend Simmons full time. Once a week we have live classes (per class so I have 3live sessions per week) using Adobe connect meeting rooms, webcam, and phone conference line. It's great as we have a very diverse set of students from all over the US. We can get clarification from our instructors and hear other students experiences and comments. We also have pre recorded lectures and slide shows, quizzes, tests, textbook readings, and assignments weekly. It's a lot of work, but I really enjoy this format compared to blackboard/discussion postings/paper writing that I did for my online BSN. Comparing the two I prefer the live sessions over just positing on threads. Don't get me wrong we still have papers and every once in awhile a discussion board too, however, nothing beats being able to have "real time" classes from the comfort of home! Lol. I'm currently in the fifth week of my first term, and I'm hanging onto all A's so far ( though just barely in patho with a 91%) and our requirements are you have to get an 83% or better overall to pass. The distance learning option is great for me as I have 3 elementary school aged children and my husband is disabled. This allows me to still work and all my prerecorded lectures etc I can tote along with me using my iPad and our schools app to apps, lunch break at work, kids events etc if I need to.
zmansc, ASN, RN
I would definitely recommend my program, and I'm sure there are others who would recommend their programs. I think picking the right online program is a fairly difficult task, but they certainly serve a purpose.
I think there are several issues to look at:
1) Preceptors. I would suggest networking with providers, both NP and others and finding providers who are willing to work with you as preceptors, and provide references, help with other assignments that the school may require. This is a key component if you plan on living in a remote location where schools often have no reach in the provider community. I think it's important to find at least one who is a very good teacher and is willing to spend time with you.
2) Time. How does the school work? Are you able to flex your schedule or is your schedule at school rigid? Is it full time or part time? How much work or time for other interests are you going to be able to have? All of these questions are vital for you to find a program that is going to fit your schedule and needs. Conversely, you will need to identify how much time you will need for your social life, work life, etc. Expect to have to make some sacrifices, and don't expect for things to go smoothly for 2-3 yrs while in school!
3) Learning style mesh. How does the school deliver content to remote learners? Do they know how to, and develop it as their primary platform, or are they mostly a B&M school that is augmenting their normal delivery with online content that doesn't really deliver the information in an easy to digest manner? How do you learn best? Can you absorb the material by reading a book, with little to no interaction help from the professor? Can you use youtube or other outside resources to help understand material? All of this will help you to identify if the content is delivered in a manner that will work with you. Expect alot of papers, alot of tests, and to spend alot of time helping yourself.
4) Commitment. Are you committed to this effort, enough so that you will not need outside motivators? If not, how does your program provide it? My program provides several methods of support for it's students, and I think many others do also. However, the official support structures are not all that interesting to me. Instead, I have made contact with many of my cohorts outside the school's structure and built support structures that are much more amenable to my needs (and those who I am closest to).
5) Cost. What is the full cost of obtaining this education? What is your budget? How comfortable are you with student loan debt? This is certainly not the first factor, but if a school is not within your budget, then there is no reason for you to continue to consider it.
6) Professional Reputation. This one is more important to some than others. Some are interested in obtaining a degree with an additional benefit of a distinguished reputation. In some circles this may be of value. In others it may not be. That is up to you. In the long run, if you are able to learn what is necessary to be an entry level APRN, which is what the boards test to, and what you will be irregardless of what program you graduate from, then you will be at the same position from school A as school Z. However, in some cases, there are networking advantages, and employers who might prefer one school's graduates over another.
I think that's a good start to your criteria. I'm sure many will jump in and give you others. Some will suggest their own opinion of how to rank these, or what answers you should make to these questions, but the reality is that all of these questions and many more need to be answered by you, for your personal situation. Then and only then can you identify the schools that meet your most important criteria.
Good luck on your journey!
Ditto on what zmansc said! All great questions to ask yourself! At the end of the day it's YOUR education, your time and energy, and your money! :)
rachel0609, ADN, RN
I've applied for the fall semester at Simmons. Tuition is out of my range but I feel like the education and experience out ways that aspect.
I could not have got my degree without it. I worked fulltime during the whole program! Couldn't afford to quit. It was tough but doable.
My program is 18 months (5 semesters, full time [avg 11-12 credits per semester], minimal breaks) at a good cost (around 25k when all is said and done). I get my preceptors assigned by the school which is also a good bonus. However, the faculty is a bit disorganized and has one of the largest classes of FNPs coming through at various points of the program. It becomes a real hassle to get things accomplished at times and there is a lot of self-teaching using various resources which can create an issue with exam questions. Overall, I am pleased with my decision because it will be timely and cost-efficient, and I try to think of the negatives as building character for a future career.
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