First of all, congratulations on your acceptance and willingness to further your education into the field of nursing care. I started the EC nursing program after it was recommended to me by a coworker who had been through it and passed, so I enrolled without truly taking stock of what was involved. At the time you were able to take NCI and II prior to enrollment to see if it was going to be a good fit for you, but I lacked the funds to do so. I wish I had, that would have shown me the sheer volume of info I would have been responsible for knowing for those exams.
I enrolled in 2005, and set to work on NC I. I read, and took notes...copious notes. I even looked online for notes on different subjects, but they didn't really help me if I didn't first read the material myself. I also bought myself a digital voice recorder, to read my notes and listen to them at a different time. Repetition, for me, is everything.
I was five years into EC before I ever took a test. Five years. The material seemed so much, and my own doubt set me on a path toward uncertainty that I just couldn't shake. Things are very different when you are trying to "teach yourself" and assure yourself that you are actually learning the material. My advice is to set a time limit for yourself for each exam, and make it both realistic and achievable. Don't do what I did and just be like ..."meh, I'll take it sometime soon." You'll never finish that way.
One of the problems I had was distraction. There was always something more important, and the "no semesters" format only lent to me putting off studying in favor of just about anything else. Whether it was the kids or the wife or my own unwillingness to sit an learn, it all led to me running out of time and having to request an extension on the seven years they give you to complete the program. And by the time I did actually get busy and really study for the exams, there wasn't enough time left for me to finish. I finished six of
the eight exams I needed (minus the FCCA and CPNE) but ran out of time - again, due to my procrastination.
It was not a lost cause, however. The things I've learned from the program and from my studies have helped me to do my own job better and enhanced my knowledge of the nursing process and disease processes so that I may be of more help to the nurses I work with.
Be honest with yourself. That is perhaps the best advice I can give you. While a lot of what nurses do is common sense and intuitive, a great deal of it is not and if you don't have a solid foundation then you may struggle with the program. If you know you're prone to procrastination, this program is not for you. If you learn better from an actual instructor, perhaps this program is not for you. If you don't like to read, this program is not for you. If you are not self motivated, this program is not for you.
I don't want to crush anyone's dreams, quite the contrary. I just hope that you can be realistic about the work you are about to undertake. The program requires a good deal of work, dedication, and your best effort. Only by giving your best can you expect the best results.
You are given seven years to fulfill the requirements and complete the program, but I was unable to finish before the deadline. I place the blame squarely on my own shoulders, and think of all the time I wasted when I should have been studying. But that was my journey, and I made the decisions that affected my progression, so I have no one but myself to blame. Don't be afraid, just follow your content guide and do what you know works best for you. But don't dawdle. Take it seriously and get it done. You'll be glad you did.
And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that Allnurses.com is an awesome reference for all of you about to undertake this journey on your way to becoming a registered nurse. Many of the members here have been successful at Excelsior and have offered invaluable information that might be able to help you, too.
Good luck to you as you begin your journey toward becoming a nurse. And thanks to all of you who have helped me along the way. This isn't the last you'll see of me, I'll be back. I've just got to head in a different direction for a little while. All the best to everyone.