I remember asking this same question in the Summer 2010 thread hehe And I am going to tell you the same thing that those wonderful people who answered told me (and what tttt essentially said as well!): Enjoy your time now! Once you start your program (no matter when, or even what school you choose to go to), you will be very, very busy. I know all nursing students are pretty Type-A people who want to have something to do and be proactive, but enjoying your free time before you start is the biggest suggestion I can have for you right now. I know, I know; it sounds stupid, and I remember scoffing when they told me that and thought they were all crazy. But it is the unfortunate truth. I live at home with my family but I still hardly ever see them, no joke! And my friends? Not really! I see my nursing school friends all the time (which 95% of the time we're studying, the other 5% we're blowing off steam after a long day/week/test), but my friends before nursing school I see very few and far between. Don't get me wrong, though, there are probably other reasons why I don't see my friends as often as I would like. There are many people in the program who still manage to have social lives, go out, etc. There are many people who are married and there are also several people with children--and even within those people, there are a couple that have three or four kids!! We even had one girl deliver her first child in November (yes, she carried her child through school and clinicals up until the day before she gave birth!!). So it's definitely doable to do all of the above--it just makes things a little more difficult. I highly suggest color-coordinated calendars and lots and lots of list-making :)
Most of the teachers are great and they'll give you the information you need to know in order to be successful. If you really HAD to study something before you get into the program, I would suggest what tttt said and study Patho. But, I also tried that as well despite what the people on the forum told me and even did study sessions with a friend that got advanced with me, but to be completely honest it did not help at all.
One nugget of information that you should DEFINITELY carry with you through nursing school:
You are in nursing school; not med school, not pharm school, not epidemiology school. NURSING school. You won't need to know a lot of the specific information that you learned in A&P and Patho. Even though knowing the intricacies of Patho (and it's super fascinating!) is great and you WILL need to know most of it in order to explain the disease process to your patients, will it help your patient to manage their Diabetes if you know that the inheritance of the DR3/DR4 markers on the HLA complex on chromosome 6 increases the likelihood of developing Type 1 Diabetes? Not in the slightest!! But, knowing that there is a familial component to acquiring Type 1 Diabetes and knowing that can be crucial to the prevention of the disease--that is important for your patient to know, and therefore an extremely important component of your patient education and prevention screening tools. See, there's a fine line between the information you need to know and how you need to apply it--a fine line that students (including myself) are still struggling to figure out in our Senior 1 semester because the exams in nursing school are all very application based, not brute memorization of facts and numbers that happens in all of the pre-req classes. That was a pretty big smack across the face for me in 310 haha. Pharm was great because it was a lot of memorization, but in Nursing Fundamentals and in all of the classes in Jr2 + you'll have to be purely application based, which is a lot more difficult than it sounds. Don't get me wrong, either, there will still be numbers and facts you'll have to memorize, it's just that the questions on tests won't be so straight forward like, "What area in the upper respiratory system does asthma effect?" or something. It's much more application-y.
This is a great question, because I honestly have no idea even though I'm graduating in August. ...LOL! I've heard that you should start applying for New Grad RN jobs about 3 months before you graduate because the process can take awhile (it's usually a three or four interview processes to get a job! Eek!). However, you won't even have started your clinical immersion by that point, so I think that 3 months is too early to be honest, but that might also be because where I'm sitting is about 4 months until I graduate (August 5th, baby!) and I am terrified at the thought that I need to be getting ready to apply for jobs lol.
As far as the outlook goes--not good for New Grads. For experienced nurses with 1+ years of experience, the market is pretty okay, but New Grads are a huge investment for hospitals because of all of the training. Add in all the turmoil with ACCCHS and the AZ Legislature and it makes Arizona a not-so-favorable environment for New Grads. My friend who just graduated from ASU in December was THE ONLY New Grad hired for Scottsdale Healthcare that wasn't already in the system. So, if you can get a job at a hospital as a CNA, PCT or Extern... DO IT!!!! (I highly suggest looking for externships near the end of your Jr 1 semester). It will make you so much less stressed when it does come time to apply for jobs since you'll already be in the system and you'll be privy to the in-house jobs that aren't offered to the public yet. Although I do not know how many ASU New Grads don't yet have jobs, there are several that I know of, unfortunately. But keep in mind, though, it depends on how picky you're going to be about your first job and where you want to work. If you're willing to be flexible, then chances are you'll be more successful. If you ONLY want to work in the NICU on the day shift... well, good luck with that, but you might be looking for quite awhile. Flexibility in nursing is huge! :)
...this is a much longer post than I intended it to be... hahaha. It's a combination of avoiding an Evidence-Based Practice research paper and all sorts of other homework and my own little soap box that I need to get off of haha
With all of it's problems, complications and all the painful hard work you have to go through to get there (i.e. nursing school ), a career in nursing is still SO, SO worth it. So try not to get discouraged by anything you may hear from any of us upper ASU classmen or even any other threads on this site. Nursing school will change your life :)