With summer’s end right around the corner and classes just about to start, now is a good time to start thinking of what you can do to start your school year off right.

Whether you are heading straight into nursing school from a high school environment or heading back after several years in another career, getting off to a good start is all about planning.

Here are five back-to-school tips.

1. Get Your Priorities Straight

A big part of getting off to a good start is getting your head in the game. Take stock of what you want out of the coming school year. If you’re a brand-new nursing student, are you looking for a certain GPA or knowledge in a particular area? If you’re a parent juggling many responsibilities plus nursing school, are you seeking a way to carve out time to study? Decide on what is important to you.

2. Identify Your Challenges

Now that you’ve stated your priorities, you’ll need to figure out what might get in your way. If you are worried about finding time to study in a busy household, what plans can you make to go somewhere quiet or find snippets of study time inyour day? Maybe you are planning to commute and your first class is especially early. What can you do to ensure on-time arrivals every day?

3. Never Underestimate Planning Ahead

Getting out the door isn’t always easy, so the less you have to do in the morning, the better off you are. Prep lunches, water bottles, clothes, homework, backpacks, and chores the night before. Make sure you don’t have to stop for gas. Try to eliminate as many things that can slow you down as possible. If you have to go to work before later classes, pack up extra food, and don’t forget your notes.

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4. Find Your System

So you are planning and getting things ready—that’s great. But there’s going to be a lot going on, so you need to find an organizational system that works for you. Find a way to keep track of all your to-do lists and make it a method that is most convenient and easy for you. It might be an app or good old-fashioned paper. As long as it is accessible and easy for you to use, it will work.

5. Take a Deep Breath

You are about to embark on another exciting year of learning that will bring you even closer to your ultimate goal of becoming a professional nurse. Think about what that means. You might have some days when you feel overloaded, but those days will be balanced by the days you come home so energized by the idea of nursing, you can’t wait to hit the books. You are on a path with other equally passionate students. Appreciate the journey to becoming part of this incredible profession.

Start thinking about heading back to school now and you can ward off lots of unexpected surprises (not the good kind!). Put some preparation into these next few weeks and you’ll be glad with the results.

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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