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Overwhelmed in the first semester...

Has 9 years experience. Specializes in Med/surg tele, home health, travel.

I have roughly 4 weeks of class left and another week for final exams in the first semester of the nursing program. I am feeling so overwhelmed and nearly powerless. I took 12 credit hours and can barely handle everything at once. I am barely getting by with C's and one class I am below the 75% minimum and need 102 points out of 120 points on the next 2 exams. I am a nervous wreck that I might have to repeat the semester again and I need some kind of help out there. I've worked too hard to get to this point and now I feel like I am starting to crumble. Has anyone felt this same experience before, and is there any advice you can give me? Any study strategies that would help??? :uhoh21:

TakeTwoAspirin, MSN, RN, APRN

Specializes in Peri-op/Sub-Acute ANP.

Does the school offer a turoring service, either group or private? Even if they don't offer it directly, they may have a lost of past students/graduates who might be available to help you with tutoring services. Sometimes repetition is the key, and it helps if there is someone who can focus you on the important stuff. Also, speak to your professors and ask for their help/advice. If it in anyway a good school they won't leave you hanging out there without help.


Specializes in ortho, surgical, long term care.

Yeah - I don't have a lot in the way of advice to offer you, but I just wanted to let you know that I understand being overwhelmed. Best of luck to you and you are not alone.

When people are overwhelmed, sometimes it's important to remember how to eat an elephant.

One bite at a time.

Look at what needs to be done taking into account what ways you need to receive the info you need to know and break it down into steps. Focus on those. Take and hour and write a study schedule - how many hours on which days. What will you focus on in each of those hours.

You've got only 4 weeks left, so you need to identify and focus on the issues, and break the work down into manageable "bites."

For me, I need to condense and consolidate all the info. I spend a few hours creating an outline from the chapter, the power point lecture and my notes. I combine them all so the majority of the info is in one place. I print it, and then I high light in different colors based on how key the info is to understanding the big picture (keep your chapter/lecture objectives in mind when deciding what's important).

That format is really important for me to not feel out of control with too much info all over the place.

Then from that point I make flash cards (and I always have a set of flash cards with me where ever I go. You'll know me when you see me in line at the bank or Post Office. I'll be the one quizzing herself with a stack of flashcards while everyone else is tapping their feet and bouncing to the elevator music!). Often the flash cards come from info found in the tables of our textbook.

And then I move on to the next chapter and do it all over again. The only difference is that when I'm done with the new info, I will re-read the outlines I have already done to keep the info fresh in my weak little brain.

When these outlines already exist, studying for tests is much more focused and less stressful for me. I usually use my workbook and additional NCLEX style study books in addition to the outlines to get ready for tests.

It sounds like a lot of work, but creating the outlines really works for me because I have to develop a genuine understanding to be able to synthesize it all into outline form, so it's very effective for me.

Good luck. I most of us are feeling tired and overwhelmed, so you are definitely not alone.

I understand your frustration. Have you taken time to analyze what you're doing with your time? Perhaps the ways you study are not working for you? I have a couple of friends that feel as though they are studying ALL THE TIME and yet, every time we study together we get off task more than on task. I'm not suggesting that is the case, but just an example of how easy it is to mismanage time and not even realize it. I think the issue that a lot of nursing students struggle with, myself included, is not so much having TIME to study, but maximizing that study time. I don't know if the disclaimer is necessary, but I have a family of 5 to care for as well as working 4 days a week at a job an hour away on top of nursing classes and Anatomy classes (for some reason we can take them w/ nursing but most took them ahead of time). I find myself wasting time a LOT, particularly when others are around, be it my family/friends/coworkers/etc. I've also found that there are ways that I *study* that are pretty much just wasting time for me, even if they DO work great for others, so I maximize my time that way as well. Additionally, if I have an area I'm doing poorly in, I put more effort into that and sacrifice my grade in the other area (within reason).

Good luck to you! Dont give up!


Has 1 years experience.

you are not alone. this is my first semester too. i have 2 nursing classes (12 credits). i think about quitting everyday. i have been told it gets better. so if we just stick it out........

just remember you aren't alone.

NurseLoveJoy88, ASN, RN

Has 6 years experience. Specializes in LTC.

I usually answer a ton of nclex style questions before the exam. This will help train your brain how to eliminate the wrong answers fast, and pick the right answers. Very helpful for me.

Jules A, MSN

Specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.

I thought the first semester was the worst! Just the culture shock and politics alone were enough to push me over the edge. Get through it and then start each new semester like gang busters that way you won't be scrambling come final exam time. Hang in there.


Specializes in LTC, subacute CNA.

Oops, meant to quote you, but I hit the thank you button instead. :)Hang in there! I like to go to the Nursing computer lab at school and take some practice tests- they have lots of NCLEX programs. Also, if your text came with a cd this usually has alot of helpful stuff on it. Try to review old material a little bit every day- even if it's just for 15 minutes. That way you won't feel overwhelmed before a test and you can focus on material you don't know so well. Good luck!


Has 11 years experience. Specializes in Psychiatry.

start each new semester like gang busters that way you won't be scrambling come final exam time. Hang in there.

GREAT advice, Jules. I do the same thing. Makes the end of the semester much less stressful.



I know how you feel this is my first term as well and I have micro biology on top of all my nursing courses as well as a full time job but I'm hanging in there. My suggestion would be to set up study groups, at my school we have study session set up in the library 3 days/week. This gives people the opportunity to meet others and get help with homework.

Hey! :icon_hug: I'm right there with you! Just take it one day at a time! I keep counting down the days to Thanksgiving break! Can't wait for a wk off, but will probably end up with some assignment to do over break!

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