Hi Ebeyan 29,
I started the Cincy State/Great Oaks LPN program in November 2009 at the Live Oaks campus. To answer your first question, yes, you can take the Biology, Communications, Health Informatics, Lifespan Psychology, any GENERAL education course, prior to beginning the program. You can even take them online if they are offered that way. You could certainly take them while completing your STNA course, as several of my classmates did that. I, personally, did not take them beforehand because I had originally planned on attending Xavier for Radiology Technology and was just doing the STNA to get my "foot in the door" in healthcare. But I ended up switching my focus to Nursing and enrolling in Cincy State/Great Oaks program at the last minute. The only general ed. course I did not have to take was the Biology, because I had already taken the whole sequence of Anatomy & Physiology courses at a different school and transferred them in. I do know, however, that once the program starts, you are not allowed to take any of the general ed. courses out of sequence. For example, if you do not take Lifespan Psych before your program starts, you would not be allowed to take it online after you start your PN courses. You would then be required to take it at your Oaks campus with the rest of your classmates in the term it is listed on the course layout. But you can take all of them beforehand and get them out of the way. Several of my classmates did that. It's better that way because then you can just focus on your PN courses. I wish I would have done it that way!
There are no additional courses hidden in the program. What you see in the layout is what you take. The only things are the STNA, which is a preqrequisite, and any deveopmental courses that you "test into" with the Compass test. Also, if you've never had college level Biology or it's been longer than three years since you've had high school Biology, you must take Biology 1 before you can take Biology 3.
I actually really like the program so far. I think the instructors are knowledgeable, and I really like the hands-on lab component. I won't say it's easy by any means; it's a lot of work and studying, especially first term, but I'm learning so much. There's been a little disorganization, mostly with class scheduling and such, because the program is new to Cincy State, but I definitely think it's worth the price. I'm doing the 16-month evening program. I've heard the day program is a lot harder. Good luck to you, and if you need to know anything else, please feel free to ask any questions.