How to Thrive as a Nursing Student Over 25

Ideally, we would all discover our passions when we’re in diapers, spend our childhoods learning the skills required to succeed, get our dream job, and work there until we retire. Unfortunately, in reality, things rarely work out as perfectly as they do in our heads. These days, job security and company loyalty have plummeted. So much so, that projections now assert that Gen Z can expect to have around 16-17 jobs across 5-7 career paths.

Moreover, the world in general is more unpredictable than ever. With everything from inflation massive natural disasters to potential alien invasions, there are plenty of reasons why someone would want to re-enter the workforce or make a career change into the nursing sector, in particular. However, if you’re an older student, you may be doubtful of your ability to earn a nursing degree. Here are 7 tips designed to enable you to thrive in nursing school.

Self-Care is Paramount

As we age, our bodies and brains become more susceptible to illness. This is why self-care is important for all students, but older students. According to Amherst College, good self-care is important because it enables students to maintain their physical, emotional, and psychological health while managing and preventing stress.

Take special time to ensure they are in the best shape both mentally and physically; you should make sure you’re exercising, taking your medications and vitamins, eating well, getting enough sleep, and even taking a day or two off, take an overnight giveaway or have a spa day with your friends–if you can steal the time, of course. Bottom line: nursing school can be mentally and physically taxing. So, if you’re not feeling your best, it will most likely affect your schoolwork.

If You Fail to Plan, You are Planning to Fail

Planning is a very important aspect of nursing school. You have to deal with seminars, lectures, exams, field work, and more. As an older student, you may also have responsibilities such as a job, children, a spouse, aging parents, and other duties. In order to thrive in nursing school, you need to plan and schedule things ahead of time to avoid conflicts

For instance, if you usually get your children off the bus but take a class that prevents you from being there some days, you may want to talk to a spouse, friend, or relative to ask for help. Moreover, if you have a full-time job, this may impede your ability to complete your clinical hours. Therefore, you may want to discuss this matter with your employer and instructor to find a schedule that works best for all parties involved.

Get to Know Your Peers, Professors, and Faculty Well

According to Azusa University, engaging with and building a rapport with your professor enables students to become more successful. This is because having a rapport with your professor will make you more likely to engage in the classroom setting, and the more you interact with the material, the better you understand it. Additionally, having a rapport with your professor will also make you more likely to speak up when you’re confused or want to push back on a point your professor may have made.

Additionally, partnering up with peers or joining/creating a peer group is a great way to get support of all kinds. Peers can provide you with missed notes and materials when you miss class, help you study, and they can even provide you with words of encouragement when you fall short. So, you don’t have to get close to all your peers but getting friendly with a few can be all you need to create an amazing peer network.

Lastly, it’s also important to get to know the faculty members. Counselors, advisors, assistants, etc., are typically abreast of insider information that can help you thrive in nursing school. They are the ones who are typically aware of hidden resources and events that can be invaluable to students. This could include anything from seminars with guest speakers to lesser-known scholarships and more.

Get Super Organized

Getting organized is important for all students. However, if you’re an older nursing student, it’s essential. Nursing degrees have lots of moving parts and require lots of work to complete, and no one gets a pass on completing the work simply because they have other duties. Luckily, taking some time to get organized before you start each semester can work wonders.

Here are some tips to help you get organized each semester:

  • Schedule Appointments: Schedule all appointments for yourself or your kids at the times that are most convenient for you.
  • Design Your Workspace: Create a special study area/workspace to allow you to study and complete coursework comfortably and with as few distractions as possible.
  • Mark Your Calendar: Review all your syllabi and mark all important exams, projects, etc., on your calendar.
  • Set a Budget: Create a budget for all college-related expenses.
  • Color Code: Color code your courses and keep the color consistent with all materials. So, for instance, you could get all green supplies for economics. This can include everything from your notebook, folder, binder, highlighter, etc. This is a fun way to ensure you always bring the right materials to class.
  • Phone a Friend: If you have a friend who is a nurse or in nursing school, call them and ask them for tips to help you prepare as well.

Pool Your Resources/Ask for Help

We all know it takes a village to raise a child, but many aren’t aware that a village can also help you thrive in nursing school. Whether you need help tending to the children, preparing meals, need time to yourself to study, or anything else you can think of, taking time to pool your resources now can save you lots of time and effort later.

For instance, if you worry that your spouse won’t be able to pick the kids up on some days, you may want to ask someone in your circle if they’re willing to fill in when they’re not available. You may also want to set your speed dial to include all important numbers, to ensure that you have all your contacts handy in case of an emergency. There is also a wide array of resources for college students who are strapped for cash, single parents, etc. For instance, the American Association of Colleges & Nursing offers an array of financial resources for nursing students on all levels. Also, if you’re experiencing food insecurity, visit for more helpful resources. There is no need to suffer in silence; if you feel overwhelmed or otherwise ill-equipped to complete your coursework, reach out for help.

Don’t Be Scared to Pivot

One of the most important things to remember when pursuing a nursing degree is that you should never be afraid to pivot. Becoming a nurse is difficult enough without torturing yourself with unnecessary things. For instance, there are various specializations to choose from. However, you don’t necessarily have to choose one. If you pick a specialization and later realize it’s not what you expected, there is zero shame in changing your specialization. In fact, if you realize you’ve chosen the wrong specialization, you should meet with your guidance counselor as soon as possible to discuss your options and next steps. It’s far worse to continue with a specialization you’re not passionate about.

It’s Supposed to be Hard

Lastly, always remember that nursing school is supposed to be hard. If not, everyone would be going, right? If you want to gain entrance into this esteemed profession, you need to be dedicated for the long haul. There will likely be times when you are tired, stressed, overwhelmed, and even frustrated, but that doesn’t mean you should quit. This list is filled with tips and tricks to help remedy these issues. So, if you’re ever feeling overwhelmed and ready to quit nursing school, we would strongly advise you to take a few deep breaths and refer back to this list.