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9 Tips to Help You Achieve Your Education Goals

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How did you achieve your education goals?

Our healthcare landscape is continuously evolving and changing. In a world of continuous transformation, lifelong learning in nursing – whether on the job or in the classroom – is a necessity. No matter your age, you too can enter a new world filled with new insights, individuals, ideas, and experiences.

9 Tips to Help You Achieve Your Education Goals

As I think about the many graduates who walked the stage this year at Chamberlain, I offer some of the following reflections on what I've learned about continuing education.

1. There is no statute of limitations on going back to school.

Part of my reasoning for completing a Ph.D. at 64 is that I want to continue to work as long as I'm able. There are people in their 70s who earn degrees simply for the sense of accomplishment. It's never too late.

2. If you want to return to school, you can find the time.

Right now you may be thinking, "That's crazy, I have no time." But I've seen how busy people find the time to do what is important to them. If we think about the number of hours we waste in a week watching television or other like activities, we may find that we can carve out the needed time to do school work.

To meet your educational goals, you will need to prioritize your time and exercise discipline. Figure out what works for you and find a way to fit it in. It's a sacrifice, but one you will never regret.

In my second doctoral program, I had to find time on weekends because my position requires long workdays. Although I began taking one course at a time, I wanted the degree sooner so I doubled my course load halfway through the program. It meant that I had to work on school almost every weekend. When I needed to make a push to finish my dissertation, I took a week's vacation time to do the final writing and editing. The dissertation took a year and a half, during which time my husband saw little of me. Which brings me to my next piece of advice:

3. Find a support structure that works for you.

My husband understood the importance of the degree and did what he could to help, including taking on some household duties. During my first doctoral program, I had a baby and worked full-time, which meant I had to rely on my mother and other family members.

4. Set your goals as early as possible, and set your sights high.

Think of all that's available in nursing and what you, as a professional, want and need to accomplish. Someone once said, "Make no small plans, as the heart is stirred by setting big goals and making them happen."

5. If you've got momentum, keep going.

We have students at Chamberlain who go from earning a degree to the next because they're in the groove. If you know that's what you want and now is the right time in your life, go for it!

6. Treat going to school like a job.

I found that if I set myself a work schedule much like a job, I was much more successful and efficient in getting my school work done. On weekends I went to my office at 8 a.m. and worked the full day. Because the courses in my program were online, I was able to schedule the times when I planned to log in and complete the online assignments. I set goals to finish those assignments at the beginning of each week, in case they took longer than anticipated. Decide how much you're going to accomplish in each work session and pace yourself.

7. If you fall off track, you can get back on.

I left my first doctoral program without completing my dissertation and went in a completely different direction before returning to health care. I finally earned a Ph.D. more than three decades after setting out to achieve that goal.

The second time around, I watched many of my classmates fall off track. Life changes; priorities shift and shift again. Suddenly, it's the right time to resume. I lost ground with the time off, but when I got back on track, it was with new resolve and a focus dictated by the new direction my career had taken.

8. Explore all your educational options.

Certificates are another way to continue your education. During my midlife entrepreneurial career, I took a year-long program at the University of Illinois and received a certificate in business administration and entrepreneurial studies. At Chamberlain, we offer a Graduate Certificate Program in Nursing Education and Nursing Informatics. Post-graduate fellowships, such as the nurse-educator fellowships available through the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, are another option.

9. If you want to be a leader, you need to continue your education.

The most compelling reasons for earning a degree are job advancement and career opportunity. Although I didn't need a master's degree for the job I had at the time, I decided to earn one - I knew it would open doors. My nursing diploma equipped me to provide patient care, but I also wanted to be a leader and a teacher. In most places in healthcare, you need at least a BSN degree to be a clinical supervisor, such as unit leader, and an advanced degree to go beyond that.

Before I entered a BSN program, I knew plenty about patient care but little about my profession. As I continued my educational journey, a world I knew nothing about opened to me - a world of nursing scholars, theorists and professional organizations.

You too can enter a new world filled with new insights, individuals, ideas and experiences. No matter your age, time constraints or setbacks - you can do it. You can build momentum, find support through friends and family and stay on track. I encourage everyone to embrace lifelong learning and to achieve your educational goals no matter what.

This is a sponsored article brought to you by allnurses.com in conjunction with the advertiser. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect allnurses.com, its parent company, or its staff.

Chamberlain offers the degree programs, resources, and support to help you succeed with your Nursing career.

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10 Comment(s)

All good tips, but I really agree with #6, treating school like a job.

Took me way to long to get my associates. My BSN, well the plan is withing 2 years from now, and I plan on having 2 jobs, my fultime job at the hospital and part time for school.


Specializes in MED-SURG Certified. Has 8 years experience.

When I decided to go back to school, I was very busy with work. I couldn't get time off from work to do this either. There were programs that I could've joined but I never got picked for them when I applied. The only option was online schooling. It took me a long time to do it but I eventually finished and I'm glad I did.

I'm 49 and starting a ABSN program in the fall. I'm both excited and nervous. Looking forward to seeing how many other order students will be in attendance.


Specializes in MED-SURG Certified. Has 8 years experience.

Looking forward to seeing how many other order students will be in attendance.

NewLife15, you might be surprised to find who is actually older. I had 8 classmates starting a new career in nursing. One of them was actually a 30+ year employee of BOEING. He is a great nurse and friend to this day. Good luck!


Specializes in None yet..

Thank you so much! I needed to read this right now. Thank you, and thank you to the other posters who give support to the idea of an older person pursuing a dream. :singing:

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN, CNS

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU. Has 27 years experience.

Great article and so true: you find time for what you want to do.

I am a second career RN, became an RN at 34 after a stint in the USN.

I'm now 56 and getting a third post MSN certificate.



Specializes in Degree Programs and resources to help you succeed.

Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Nalon! We are glad these tips were able to help you during your educational journey.

I'm curious of how many graduates of Chamberlain's BSN program went into MSN programs at different schools and difficulty of transfer.


Specializes in Degree Programs and resources to help you succeed.

Hi Steve, thanks for your interest in Chamberlain! We've had many students further their education at other institutions successfully transferring credits. If you have any additional questions, please contact us at social@chamberlain.edu.

Great tips and well said: "Treat going to school like a job". Thanks for sharing!