Major Decision Making - Opinions Needed: Online or On campus

  1. Hi everyone! I will first apologize in advance, because I tend to be very long-winded in forum posts, so feel free to skim and scan and get the general information and post your thoughts.

    My History: I'm a 36 year old HS Spanish teacher, very unsatisfied in the position, and I can't imagine conjugating the same verbs over and over for the next 25 years (and yes, I have to teach certain information). I have no other teaching options unless I go back for further certifications, however, the administration politics in my school have gotten so bad that the current principal has pretty much poisoned our staff and everyone dreads coming to work and no one wants to be here. It's a very sad situation.

    I never went into Education as my first choice. I never "wanted" to be a teacher. It was pretty much my "only option", after I took the easy way out as a 20-21 year old and only majored in Spanish. Everyone always thought I'd make a great nurse, but I didn't want to push myself with the math and sciences when I was "young and stupid".

    My Current Status: I made the decision to change careers and pursue nursing. Through the University of Binghamton in NY, they have an accelerated track program where after 4 semesters (Summer - Summer), I will have a BS/RN in Nursing. I needed to take 6 classes as pre-requisites due to my lack of science and math background. After completing my pre-req courses, in May 2010, I will begin this 1 year, intensive program, hopefully with a full scholarship through the UHS hospital program here in my area.

    Classes I needed to take:

    Chemistry 1 & 2
    Anatomy & Physiology 1 & 2
    Statistics
    Microbiology

    I could not fit Chemistry anywhere in my schedule due to the local schools only offering it during the day and I am still employed as a teacher. I was told that 2 courses were offered online through Columbia Southern University and they would be accepted. I am just about done with my Chem 1 class and I should definitely get an A in it. I will start the Chem 2 class towards the middle of June, after taking a couple of weeks off.

    Online/Distance Learning History: I did my entire MSEd (Masters program in Education) online through the University of New England. As a fulltime working parent, I was able to juggle my time and work at my own pace and proceed through the program with a 4.0. I also, as said above, have done 1 Chem course online and will be receiving an A in it and hope to receive an A in Chem 2 too.

    My Problem/Decision to Make: Now, I am currently enrolled in A&P 1 & 2 and Statistics through my local community college (1/2 hour drive away). Classes are set to start 5/26. I only have A&P 1 the first session (which is good because I am still working until the end of June). The classes are 4 days a week, with 2 nights being a lab that does not get out until 10:30 at night (meaning, I won't get home until 11pm at night and up at 6:30 am the next morning for work until I am out at the end of June). The second summer session (when I am not working), I am signed up for A&P 2 (the same night class schedule) and the Statistics class is a MORNING class! So, I'd drive in 3 days a week for Statistics, come home for a few hours and have to drive back to the university for the 4 days a week A&P 2 night class, with again, 2 nights being lab until 10:30 at night (remember: 1/2 hour drive each way to the university)

    Soooo - I realized that the University of Rochester offers A&P 1&2 and Microbiology as distance learning classes and my university will accept their credits as pre-req credits. Now, obviously, when I do distance learning, there are no labs involved and my future-nursing program is okay with that (I'm not sure why, but they are.) Here's my quandry. Will I lose out on too much hands-on practice if I do these 3 classes online instead of actually driving to the campus and participating in the class and lab? Will I be ready enough to enter the actual nursing program in the summer 2011?

    I have a positive history of being good at distance education classes, but I do not have a huge math/science background. I did take A&P in high school and in pre-reading an old textbook, I remember a lot of the terminology and body structures, etc, which surprises me. I have to take Statistics on campus as an actual course, because there is no distance-ed Stats course listed on their "acceptable transfer credits", so I will have to drive to the university 3-times a week during summer session 2 only.

    I was thinking: Sign up to do the distance ed classes for A&P 1&2 and Micro to save on my driving time, late nights and general sanity (but miss out on the potential helpful lab work) and then, on my own spare time this summer when I am not working, I can volunteer at the hospital and see if they can have me doing more than just delivering flowers and/or answering phones. I can tell them I'm a pre-nursing student, who in 1 year hopes to be actually working at the hospital as an actual nurse and I'd like to be able to do as much as they can let me do legally. Maybe working at the hospital or walk-in clinic would give me a better taste for what I am going to encounter than an actual A&P/Microbiology Lab.

    So - please, your thoughts, advice, suggestions. I only have until Friday to make this decision, because that is the last chance to be able to get 100% refund on my summer classes I have signed up for through my local community college.

    Will I be prepared enough without lab work?
    Last edit by Nicholaa on May 19, '09
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    About Nicholaa

    Joined: May '09; Posts: 2
    Currently: HS Spanish Teacher
    Specialty: None yet!

    3 Comments

  3. by   ♪♫ in my ♥
    A few thoughts:

    1) As a hospital volunteer you'll only be answering phones, delivering things from one department to another, disinfecting surfaces, loading blankets in the warmer, making copies, etc. You won't be doing anything "real." I've done several volunteer stints and have found the experience lacking.

    2) For micro, online wouldn't really be missing anything. For the A part of A&P, I do think you're missing a lot by not looking at a real human body exposed in front of you. I found the cadaver dissection to be enormously helpful in learning anatomy. Of course, the anatomy required of nursing students and most nurses is fairly rudimentary so if you're a good book learner you can probably get all you need that way.

    3) Are you really sure you want to give up a tenured position with excellent job security, a defined-benefit pension, great working hours, and lots of time off for a job that may find you as an at-will employee with a crappy 401(k), working 12-hr night shifts over holidays and weekends, and a measly 2 weeks off per year with 8 holidays tossed in? If you're sure, you're sure but I'd think long and hard before making the switch (I know a ton about teaching, both HS and elementary).
  4. by   Nicholaa
    Well, I made the decision - I am taking the courses on campus. I emailed the academic advisor for the main nursing program and she said she spoke to the head professor in the nursing department and while the university would accept the A&P 1&2 coursework from the distance ed program, it was in their honest opinion that I would benefit more from the local class, taking the lab. *sigh* Bound for LONG days with late nights, but I do understand their point entirely. I do plan on taking Micro through distance ed though.

    I understand all of your arguments concerning me leaving the education field and I respect them. However, as I mentioned, the current principal has poisoned our school, leaving 90% of the staff hating their jobs and not wanting to come in to work. If I leave this school, I have to go through another 2 year tenure process and I'll be at the bottom of the line of seniority. Then, as I mentioned, the thought of teaching the same material with no chance at all of changing it due to state testing (unless I get certification in say History or English) - I can't teach conjugating the verb "to be" and the vocabulary for the city locations for the next 25 years.

    AND - not to mention, kids in New York are forced to be in my class, all kids, even those who don't want to go to college (i.e. those that want to go into the military or work on the farm or go into a family business or even just work in basic industry). They come in with prejudices against foreign languages and that also comes from their parents who say, "Why do you need to know about stupid Spanish and those dirty Mexicans?" - No, I'm not kidding. These are some of the mentalities the kids are bringing into the classroom and how can you teach a child that insists s/he does not want to and shouldn't have to learn a language?

    Nursing, while having literally (and possibly) having a crazy schedule (though when I have looked at the open jobs at the hospital where I want to work, most are 8 hour day shifts), has so much more opportunity for venturing into many different sub-fields. If I decide I love working with children, I can go for a Peds speciality, or Oncology, or Geriatrics, etc.

    I will also start off making $10,000 more a year than I am making now, which will help off-set the time off I am not going to get in the summer and believe me, I do not make $5000 a month as a teacher, so the 2 months off isn't as valuable as an extra $10,000 salary. Teachers in our area make next to nothing, while nurses are in super high demand; such high demand, that as I think I mentioned, the local hospital system pays for our program and guarantees a job after we graduate. (We do have to work in the system for 2 years however).

    My husband works a "standard job" - with his own 401k, 2 weeks vacation, holidays, etc. So, me having off in the summer means nothing. Now, with me not having a forced schedule, if we want to take a week off in the middle of October to catch a good cruise vacation price, we can. I won't be stuck in a classroom, waiting for Christmas break.

    Hey - I'm not saying I'll end up retiring in Nursing and maybe I will absolutely hate it. But, I am also a permanently certified teacher in NY. If nursing doesn't work out, I can go back into teaching and since I teach Spanish, I will have no problem finding a job since foreign language teachers are in such high demand.

    I see it as a chance to explore other areas of interest and have two very viable jobs that if I ever move, I would have an easier chance at finding employment. Believe me, I have put a lot of thought into this and everyone agrees it is something I should definitely pursue.

    The thought of continuing in this poisonous school district, conjugating verbs for the next 25 years just makes my stomach churn :-(
  5. by   ♪♫ in my ♥
    Well, I think you're making a very wise decision in going for the on-campus class.

    Being bilingual will help you enormously in nursing, especially with it being Spanish.

    You'll also find your education background to be helpful as you approach the educational aspects of nursing. One of my classmates was a teacher and it really shows on some of her projects.

    Horrible administration.... ugh, say no more. I'm sorry to hear that... it can make all the difference in the world... and that, too, I know from experience. One of the few people in the world that I've truly hated was an elementary school principal who had it in for my family and made my mom's life there miserable.

    It's too bad because education can be a sweet gig if you're in a decent school and working with some decent colleagues. Unfortunately, the students are the ones who really lose big.

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