An hour long commute blows chunks. My commute is 58.9 miles one way. I can make it the first 50 miles in 60 minutes. Those last 9 miles take me anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours. Then when I get parked, it takes me 20 minutes to walk to campus (because that's as close as we get). So I lose at least 3 hours a day due to commuting. Yes, I listen to textbooks while driving. I listen to podcasts and I listen to youtube. Sometimes I just have to listen to nothing.
Before you commit to driving - drive there when the majority of your classes will be. Drive everyday you will have class for at least a week and make sure that school is in because school buses suck when you can't pass them and are stuck behind them stopping every 100 feet for 30 minutes. Also take into account what time you are coming home - because return traffic doesn't always start at 5 - sometimes it starts at 2 and lasts until after 8.
Class at 7am or before - I can leave 2 hours early. After 7 - I have to leave 3 hours early. If I am not into downtown by 6:30am - it adds an extra hour.
Leaving the city - if I am out of the city by 2pm - it takes 1.5 hours to get home. If I don't get out until 2:30 or later - its anywhere from 2-3 hours to get home. I tried staying to study one night - I stayed until 7pm. It still took me an hour to get out of town because guess what... I'm in the hospital district and shift change happens between 6:30 and 7:00. So rush hour is more like rush afternoon/evening.
You just can't make this decision based on 1 day unless your decision is you are just going to do it no matter what. If your decision is you are going to just do it, my recommendation is leave at the same time everyday and study or go to the gym before class. Today was an early day for me and a corvette ran into a logging truck (texting and driving). The road was closed and I almost missed class.
Now for helpful things....
Do NCLEX questions everyday - even if you don't understand anything you are reading. Read the question and read the rationale and it will help you start making sense of the questions and the way they think. Hint: if ABC (airway, breathing, circulation) or Assessment is a choice - its probably the answer.
NRSNG.com - its so helpful.
If your school does ATI - Cathy Parkes (youtube)
Somewhere on here there is a dosage calc paper - find it and start learning that. We only have 5 weeks to go through our entire dosage calc book - its super fast and luckily I have a good grip on it but that document will help a ton.
Learn abbreviations and common medical terms.
If you are a paper person, buy an inkjet that you can purchase refillable cartridges for. It can be messy, but once you know how to refill them, it is SO much cheaper to just buy ink, and you aren't caught not being able to print because you don't have a magenta refill on hand.
Personally I use a combination of a paper planner I made myself and iStudiezPro - don't buy a planner until you have laid eyes on your syllabus and you know what will work for you. I can see a whole week at a time for assignments due, then I use a pull out planner for detailed assignments due and also iStudiezPro for detailed assignments due. I'm not as digital as I would like this semester but its partially because they don't release all our assignments at the beginning of the semester. I get the majority of my work assigned on Sunday for the coming week and its easier to write that down so I can see all my readings/powerpoints at once. iStudiezPro works really well for actual assignments, projects and tests, but I haven't figured out how to make it functional for reading yet.
On this thought - every one of my classes is color coded and matches what I have setup in iStudiezPro. I even taped an appropriately colored piece of paper on my textbook for quick identification. I have both pencils and pens in said colors and use them to be able to quickly ID assignments and what-not by color.
Figure out your hair issues. If its short great. If its not - figure out how you can get and keep it up without causing issues. Mine is super long and loves to fall out of just about everything. Luckily I have a clinical instructor who will let me take it down, put it up again and keep going (there are some that won't and will ding you for "hair issues" in clinical that day).
Most of all - sleep and relax because when you start school - those days are done. If you are not a morning person - work on your schedule to become one.
Go to the eye doctor and make sure your vision is up to par and if not - fix it.
Things I bought and have not used...
Notebooks, binders, 100,000 notecards (I use some - but mostly I use flashcard hero), at least 4 planners I thought I would like, a bag with wheels (I walk too far and needed a backpack), tons of crap for my "clinical" bag (side note - I don't take anything anymore - I use a pen, my stethoscope and have a small notepad in my pants pocket and a $20). Coincidentally I am a digital person. I don't print much and most everything is on my iPad. I use real textbooks but everything else is on my iPad - including all my notes and my clinical paperwork.
Sorry for the book.
Edit ** None of this feels like a burden to me because this is what I want to do. Everything in life has a cost/benefit. Its up to you to decide if the cost of your sacrifices for 17 months is worth the benefits that being a nurse will provide the rest of your life I wish you the best.