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Starting the Program in January


Hey guys just wanted to give a brief introduction; I've been reading through the forums on and off for a while, but decided to finally make an account. I'm a 24 year-old USMC vet living in Fredericksburg, Virginia and will be starting the RN program at Germanna CC come January. I'm pretty stoked about this, as I've only been doing prereqs/courses towards the BSN for the last year and a half. If anyone has any advice they want to share, or you're in the area, please let me know. As you can guess from my username, I like backpacking.

Anyways, it's good to be here and I appreciate everything I've already "learned" from reading these forums.

Congrats on the start of your journey. I remember when I first got accepted into my program and it was so exciting. I will graduate in May!

My advice to you would be to make friends because it will be beneficial to all of you in your program. When it gets tough just remember how you felt when you first got in...it will be over before you know it!

Congratulations on getting accepted and on having the courage to go for it! I did not start nursing school as a "traditional" student, but as a comeback, and I'm due to finish a BSN program in May. If you have any thoughts at all about being older than some of your classmates, that's one issue I think is no problem at all. Any age is a good age for school of any kind. Your discipline as a Marine is likely to serve you well, so ponder it, recognize how important it is, and plan to use it all through school and as a nurse. Your military experience will also help you deal with apparent BS in school and after. Plan to encounter a few classes, or at least some lectures, that seem useless and a waste of time. I trust you already learned how to bear that easily, and that will make a lot of things easier for you than for some of your classmates. I'm sure you also already learned that much that appears useless when you have to learn it later proves to be very important - again, you will be very good at remembering that in class.

I have one specific recommendation. Put every assignment, every due date, every duty to meet a professor or clinical instructor, every task of any kind you know about in advance into a calendar on your cell phone. Put everything into your calendar with an alarm for a few days before it and again for the day before it so you remember every little detail and never lose credit for a late assignment. I do it this way, and I admit that the calendar alarms surprise me at least once a week with something I forgot about. With the calendar and advance warnings I schedule, I get everything done as needed. I've had weeks with twenty different little things due, and the calendar alarms make it all happen on time for me.

I almost never leave a lecture with a question unasked. I try not to be a nuisance, but I know the professors know a heap of stuff that I want to learn, so I ask them about anything they say that is not clear to me. I never argue with faculty in class because I think that's rude and disrespectful, but if they say something I think might be mistaken, I see them later to find out.

No matter what your classmates say, buy every required textbook unless you are flat broke and absolutely can not afford them. I have spent almost $300 on single books that I used only 4 or 5 times, but I'm glad I spent the cash because the few times I used them got me a letter grade better than I'd have gotten without them.

Ask for advice often, and listen to any that is offered whether you asked for it or not. Figure out whether it's useful or not after you hear it, and reject any advice you think is totally junk after you think about it - including everything I just recommended!

I could not be happier with my decision to become a nurse. I'll say one other thing - be open to types of nursing you might not expect to like. I'm a guy who never expected to want to do pediatrics, but I ended up going even further. I'm hooked on neonates. I volunteered in a unit with drug addicted newborns who needed a lot of extra attention as they go through NAS (Neonate Abstinence Syndrome). Those patients got me hooked on the NICU. I did a rotation in a level 3 NICU and absolutely loved it. That's what I want to do when I graduate. I'm telling you this just as an example of a student who was surprised to love a type of nursing I really had not even considered doing. Try it all if you can, at least to see it a little, Surgery, Med-surg, PACU, ICU, CCU, NICU, Orthopedics, Oncology, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Hospice - all of it. You might be surprised like I was to find a calling you did not expect.

Good luck!

gere7404, BSN, RN, EMT-B

Specializes in Emergency Services, Cardiac Step-Down. Has 5 years experience.

If you've got a service connected rating of 20% from the VA, sign up for vocational rehabilitation and employment and see if they'll pay for your program. It's like the GI Bill except they pay for an additional year of schooling (or longer if the counselor determines that you have a "serious employment handicap") and pay for all materials required for your program.

The VA is paying for my complete BSN program, bought me a top of the line Asus Zenbook Pro, a 3-in-1 printer/scanner/fax machine, all my books, my scrubs, approved nursing shoes (waterproof Merrells), a Luminox watch, a Littmann Cardiology IV, and provide me a monthly living subsistence allowance.

Buyer beware, BSN

Specializes in GENERAL. Has 40 years experience.


As you know your school benefits are golden and as such there are bad actors out there who would love to, excuse their language, "put your a** in a class." By this I mean the for-profits. They specialize in the military and as such schools like University of Phoenix have been banned at least temporarily from recruiting on military bases by the DOD.

So it's paramount that you you make objective educational decisions based on facts. These stats can be found at (collegescorecard.ed.gov). Tuition, graduation rates and retention are very important and they give you a good idea whether or not the school is dedicated to turning out qualified nurses or just pushing expensive loans.

The CC route you're going is by far the most cost effective and judicious.

If more folks had patience and put away the desperation they would save themselves a lifetime of crushing debt so as to enjoy the fruits of their labor here and now.

Semper Fi.

Edited by Buyer beware

anchorRN, BSN, MSN, RN, APRN

Specializes in ICU, Military. Has 18 years experience.

Its cool how many guys on this site are vets. Good luck in your program! I'll be starting my FNP program in Fall 2017 when I separate from the Navy and cant wait (although not exactly looking forward to being a student again). Just did my first pre-separation class yesterday and will do my TAPS class in the new year. I'll be settling down in eastern KY right on the VA border. I'm from the Appalachian region originally and i can definitely confirm that the backpacking in the area is some of the best in the nation. Congrats bro and good luck in your program!

For me it took one solid 16 week semester before the females in my cohort got used to me. As another male student put it they eventually forget you're a guy and relax around you. After that point small study groups were much easy to get in on or organize myself.

The best advice I can give you is to study early and every day no matter what. And do not plan anything during the semesters as you'll be busy enough with school with or without a part time job added in there too.

Oh and while we can't run that fast if it chases us I highly do not recommend sleeping with anyone in your cohort; go for their friends instead.

Thanks for the advice and well wishes, everyone! Lots of great thoughts have been laid out on here. I am pretty stoked; we have our orientation in six days.

MuffinMan, I'm going to have to actively work on that... because it's how I usually mess things up in my classes. As for the study buddies/groups, I have a solid platonic friendship with a girl who was also accepted into the program. She's part of the reason why I did as well as I did in the anatomy courses. We think the same way and it definitely helps when it comes to studying. She's hot, but I recognized the impact she had on my grades early on so I've always restrained myself. Maybe after school.... lol

I had my last exam of the semester this morning, a fairly tough one for me, and it feels great to have just one more semester left. I just wanted to encourage you to look forward to the nursing program you enter. Like I said before, I'm a "come back" student - not 18 or 19, and I could have gone a few different worthwhile directions academically. Nursing school has been hard, but well worth it. My university allows seniors to apply to nursing grad school for "early assurance" admission if our GPA is high enough. The GPA doesn't have to be amazing, just good and solid. I'm so sure I made the right decision to enter nursing that I'm going to apply for grad school and just stick around part-time while I work. That's if I did not blow today's final.

All I mean by this is that I love what I'm doing even though I find it fairly difficult sometimes, and I trust you will to. You are right to be stoked about the program starting soon. Nursing papers are written in APA style. I recommend the Amazon Kindle version of the APA manual 6th edition. It's easy to search and use. Yo will have papers to write - some a couple of pages, some 10-15+ pages. If you write well and follow APA rules well, you will stand out among professors and your classmates. I know several students who write very well, and they are welcomed into any and all group projects that involve writing.

Do one core thing you learned to do as a Marine - let what you do well benefit everyone around you, and be glad for everyone when things go right. Also try to catch your classmate if he or she is falling behind - certainly at least if the person asks for help and you could help. You know this already, so I'm just saying take that attitude with you to nursing school. Every student is responsible for himself or herself, so you can't do everything for a person, but help when you can. My school does not grade on a curve ever, so only a severe jerk would try to beat a classmate at anything just so the other person scores less than you do. We could all get an "A" or all blow it, half get B+ and a bunch get C+ or B- and only one genius get an "A" on an exam - like I said no grades get curved for my program. This makes it easier to work to get the whole group to succeed, since nobody benefits from anybody failing. Even if your school grades on a curve, still share your notes or a special tip you heard with others who are struggling.

I didn't mean to get so preachy, just wanted to say if you help your classmates they will not care if you're male or female, young or old, funny as heck or boring as dirt.

Good luck! I hope it's a great as you plan it to be!

Hey! I'm not a guy, but I think that we're going to be in the same cohort at Germanna :) Probably ran into each other on Tuesday's orientation. I'm super excited to start the program too. It's been a long time coming for me. I'm a pretty relaxed, 37-yr-old Army vet. Just moved to the Stafford area from San Diego (Marine husband). Enjoy your break and I'll see you in January for some real fun!!

Hey yepooda, Merry Christmas! It's good to see someone else from the cohort on here. That orientation left me a little more confused than I was beforehand, but I think (as others have already stated here) that our military experience will lend itself well to creating structured environments for studying and the like. Enjoy your break, and I'll see you in class!

Congratulations on getting accepted. If I may suggest you. Got to set your priorities right and never waiver from that. Try to enjoy you time. Sometimes it can appear to be overwhelming but one usually gets past that once you realize this is exactly what you want to do.

Good luck