Hello! I am in the current program- we finished our third semester today- whoot! It goes amazingly fast.
I'll answer your questions as best as I can:
1. We began May 12, 2014. There is always a week's overlap with the graduating class, which is kinda cool (unless you're a professor teaching in both programs, but hey- wasn't OUR decision!
2. There is not too much information after the acceptance letter until you go to Orientation in April. It will drive you crazy. Once at orientation, much is explained.
3. We started off with about 56 and ended the summer with 51, I believe. This fall we joined in with the traditionals, adding about 70+ to our group. It's a LOT of people, which means LOTS of group work fall and spring, with sometimes unmanageably large groups (we're trying to "encourage" the faculty to fix that for you guys!). Try to pick your own- by then you'll know who you can work with. Thankfully, no group work in the summer. They do a nice job of streamlining the information then. You will get to know the other ABSers fast- I have made some terrific friends. They are a great support!
4. During the summer, don't work unless you absolutely have to. Some did, but not many, and only a little bit. Per diem is the best option if you can swing it. Although technically there is more time for a job in the fall (class time more spread out), you will have a LOT more work assignment-wise. I don't have to work, thankfully (thanks, husband!). I had thought about getting a PT job for fun this fall, but it just wasn't worth it. Chose to spend my little free time with my family instead. You do get 6 weeks off over December/January (which you will need!), though, so that may be the time to do it!
5. I purchased my books, but did it online at the cheapest costs. Don't get the optionals, but you will want the required texts. Reading, especially in the primary nursing content courses, really does = better grades.
6. Overall, I love the program. You get your BSN in one year, and I really can say that even with a full semester left, I feel like a nurse, I've learned a ton, and I'm ready to get out there. You will feel like your clinical experiences, especially at first, are too short. They are, in the summer especially. But fall will bring a more in depth experience (2 5-week placements), and spring you will have a 10 week critical care placement, plus your capstone at the end (3 weeks of basically FT clinical that many students try to use as a stepping stone to that first job). I have NO REGRETS at all about my decision to attend UB. It's been great.
7. Early assurance applications to the DNP programs are due February 5, I believe. I will be applying.
8. During the summer, you will have class basically 8am-5pm every day, and on clinical days typically 7am-3pm although weekends and later schedules are sometimes assigned. There is NO break between session I and II during the summer, and just a week between summer and fall. You will be doing work at night and on the weekends. But you get through the sessions quickly, so you see the payout from your efforts, which is nice. This semester I had classes M 9-11am and 2-4:30pm, T 12-3pm, W/TH clinicals 7am-3pm, and Fridays class 9-11am and 12-2pm. Much more a typical college schedule. You will fill your free time during the day with group project meetings (blech!!). My schedule next semester is similar, only classes will go til 6pm on Mondays in exchange for nothing on Fridays. I can handle that. Spring is supposed to be the hardest, as they cram all the material into the first 12 weeks so that classes are totally over when you begin your 3 week capstone experiences. Then 4 days of ATI review/NCLEX prep, and graduation!
I hope that helped answer some of your questions. Feel free to ask more, or for clarifications if I was confusing. I remember feeling like I had NO information last year at this time, and it made me a little crazy. Overall, if you are accepted, do it! It really is a great program, and at UB prices instead of private schools.
Good luck, everyone!