It's a common question, and if you're asking yourself if you're too old to go to nursing school, you are not alone. If you are a "non-traditional" student, you actually have a few advantages! Some special challenges that I'll address, for sure, but some definite advantages. If you are struggling with this very life-changing decision to go back to school again or not, I have been there. It's not an easy decision. I spent too much time trying to make up my mind. (We're talking years). Let's save you some time!
Are You Too Old For Nursing School?
Hello Everyone! Welcome back to the Nursing School Week by Week Podcast. Oh my gosh you guys, I got a puppy recently and he is so adorable, but such a little terror. He’s a Golden Retriever, and he chews everything! I’m probably crazy for getting a puppy at this time in my life, with so much to juggle, but he was just too cute to pass up on. If you want to see any videos of him, you can check out my Instagram, Nursing School Week by Week.
Alright, I’m your host, Melanie, and today we’re talking about a question that I myself spent way too much time thinking about before I applied to nursing school. Are you too old to go to nursing school? If you’re listening to this podcast you are probably asking yourself the same thing. You may feel like you’re in a different phase of life that the standard college student. Maybe you have kids and worry that it’ll take too much of your time away from them. When I was throwing around the idea of going to nursing school, I had kids, and I had already been to college straight out of high school. I had been in a sorority, and had the whole college experience. I felt like it would be selfish of me to put our families money toward a second degree for myself. It also felt selfish knowing that if I was going to do this, then I was going to be all in, and I was going to study hard and my husband would have to step up and fill in the gaps.
I Think that’s something that women especially struggle with. The ability to put their wants first. To pursue something they maybe don’t necessarily need to do, but want to do. And if you are listening to this and are still unsure whether it’s something you really want to do, how long have you been thinking about going to nursing school for nursing? Years? In my case, it was years. That’s not a passing thing. That’s not a whim. That’s a deep desire for change. And it may feel like a selfish thing now, but it’s not. Before nursing school, I was making $16 an hour working as a bank-teller. As a nurse, I’ll be making double that. I’ll have the flexible schedule I need to actually show up more for my family, and I can tell my kids that I have a job that truly helps people.
You might be thinking of how hard you’ll have to study, and what about all the new changes in technology? Will you be able to figure out how to navigate the online Canvas system, or do group projects within Zoom, or edit shared Google docs? There was definitely a learning curve for me, but I figured it out quickly, and you will too. Plus, you’ll probably learn these things in your pre-req classes anyway. But, if I’m being honest, I actually think older students have an advantage over younger students when it comes to study skills. Cause we remember a time when there was no internet! We grew up learning how to study for uninterrupted periods of time with no distractions. We are OK putting our phone on silent and not checking Facebook or Instagram for a few hours. We know that “sticks and stones may break our bones”, but FOMO will never actually hurt us.
Nontraditional students also have an advantage in the classroom. Because we are in a different phase of life than students just out of high school, our priorities are a little different. As a young 20 something, yes, you are working hard to get your degree, but you’re also socializing and looking for a life partner. You’re out on your own for the first time, and you want to go out and have a good time and mingle. But, if you have a family already, that’s not a concern. This priority is subtle, but it shows up in the classroom. From what I’ve seen, older students are more likely to speak up and participate in class. They care less about what other people will think of them. If people will like them. And we all know that participating in class helps motivate you to better prepare for class and keeps you engaged in the topic you’re learning.
If you’re thinking, I’m already x years old, by the time I graduate, I’ll be xx years old, just know that in 2 years, you’re going to be 2 years older whether you went to nursing school or not. So, let’s say you’re 42 right now. In two years, would you rather be 44 and a registered nurse, of 44 and whatever you’re doing right now?
And look at some other jobs. I mean, look at the President of the United States, for goodness sakes. The average age for a president is 55 years old. That means half were older than that! And do you think they sat around thinking, “Well, I’m too old. It would be selfish of me.” No! They surrounded themselves with people who supported them, and they went for it. And so should you. You are way more likely to regret not going for it than you are doing it.
Older students make great nurses. We have more life experience and it’s easier for us to relate to our patients, and their family members. Maybe you’ve had kids? If you’re thinking of being a pediatric or neonatal nurse, you already have an advantage. Not to mention the advantage you’ll have in school during your labor and delivery class.
Having experiences other than just high school and college can help you establish a good therapeutic relationship with your patients. Gives you more to talk about and allows you to recognize nuances in the conversation.
If you have kids, I actually think it’s healthy for them to see you studying hard and going for something that you want. Isn’t that what you want them to do? What better way to teach them than to actually model it for them? And they’ll be so proud of you when you graduate and can bring in more money for the family and have flexible hours.
If you’re worried about spending the money to get your nursing degree, you can usually find a program at a community college nearby that will cost you about $12,000-$15,000 for an associates degree in nursing. Then, once you start working, most hospitals will pay for you to complete your bachelor’s degree. You can also look into getting your student loans paid off by the hospital, or even the government now. So don’t let thoughts of, “It’s too expensive” hold you back.
Alright y'all, those are just some of the reasons why you are NOT too old to go to nursing school. Don’t let negative thoughts hold you back. If you’ve been thinking about doing this for a while, then just go for it! About 25% of students in nursing school now come having a previous degree in something else, and are considered “non-traditional”, so you definitely won’t be alone.
Alright y'all, have an awesome day, and I’ll talk to you soon.