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Tips for Succeeding in Nursing Night School Classes

Daniel Bal, MS.Ed
Updated August 29, 2022
    Explore the various benefits of taking nursing classes in the evening, as well as tips to successfully complete courses.
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    Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

    Female Caucasian nurse sitting in a classroom with her young son, waiting for her night school course to begin.

    Education is an ongoing part of an individual’s professional life, but higher education can feel unattainable when working full time or taking care of a family. Evening classes provide a way for working students to earn a degree while still finding the time to manage other responsibilities.

    In fact, studies have shown that students taking night classes felt:

    • increased self-confidence
    • a greater feeling of control over their lives
    • more willingness to take on new challenges

    Beyond this, students also said classes broadened their network of friends and gave them an increased sense of belonging.

    Both prospective and current nurses can benefit from night classes. Included throughout this guide are the various benefits that result from taking nursing night school classes and tips to help students succeed.

    Benefits of Evening Classes for Working Students

    Evening classes provide a variety of benefits for both current and aspiring nurses.

    • You can keep your day job. Taking advantage of night classes allows students to continue to work during the day, providing them with a source of income while advancing their career.
    • You can advance your career. Working nurses can advance their careers by earning additional degrees or certifications, opening them to more professional opportunities.
    • You have smaller class sizes. Night classes typically have smaller class sizes, meaning in-person options on college campuses are less crowded.
    • Save time with online options. With education continuing to increase its remote availability, students can take advantage of the timesaving benefits and flexibility of online courses. Students do not have to spend time or money traveling to and from campus with remote coursework.
    • Evening classes bring increased flexibility. Most night classes typically run only 1-2 nights per week and average three hours. Therefore, students still have some flexibility in the evenings, as they do not take courses every night.
    • Night classes can be more affordable. Online night classes are often cheaper, as students typically pay by credit hour rather than full tuition.
    • You’ll have increased personal satisfaction. According to a survey administered by Oxford University’s Dr. Eiluned Pearce, an evolutionary psychologist, students enrolled in night classes reported benefits including:
      • increased self-confidence
      • a greater feeling of control over their lives
      • more willingness to take on new challenges
      • a broadened network of friends
      • an increased sense of belonging

      The study also found that the more someone felt a part of their group, the more their health and wellbeing improved.

    • Evening classes offer networking opportunities. Instructors who teach night classes are often working professionals who can provide great insight into the current landscape of nursing and emerging trends.

    Tips for Nurses to Succeed in Their Evening Classes

    As a nursing student looking to succeed in evening classes, you can employ various techniques and tips to make the most out of your experiences. The following are a few tips for current or future nurses looking to take advantage of such courses.

    Meal Plan and Prep

    According to Dr. Jenna Liphart Rhoads, a nurse educator and freelance writer/editor, most nurses enrolled in night classes work full time during the day or take care of their families.

    Unfortunately, this type of hectic schedule often results in nutritional sacrifice, which can lead to poor health and poor performance. Meal planning and prepping can help increase your ability to perform during class.

    “Taking the time to prepare healthy food in advance can help to minimize the lure to rely on junk food to get by,” Rhoads says.

    Connect with Classmates

    Connecting with at least one other student in the class can be beneficial. With the stress of a night class coupled with full-time responsibilities, having someone to study with can help limit the anxiety created by the additional responsibility of completing the class.

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    Set Small Goals

    Choosing to take evening classes is typically driven by a larger academic or professional goal. By breaking big goals into smaller, incremental goals, students feel a sense of accomplishment as they reach them.

    These goals can be:

    • Yearly: Completing a certain number of courses throughout the year.
    • Weekly: Completing a set amount of assignments per week.
    • Daily: Completing a portion of your assignments each day.

    For positive reinforcement, reward yourself after completing each incremental goal. This is an easy form of self-care for student nurses.

    Accomplishing these can provide the motivation needed to drive students forward in their pursuits.

    Be Sure to Schedule Downtime

    Students who have a hectic schedule that includes full-time responsibilities with courses at night are often at an increased risk of burnout. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance for them to develop an appropriate schedule.

    Rhoads finds that “those who take night classes ‘burn the candle at both ends’ and need to take special care to schedule time to relax and take care of themselves.”

    Remember to Drink Water

    While drinking water is essential to health regardless of an individual’s responsibilities, it can also increase energy levels and brain function.

    According to a recent study from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, even mild dehydration can impair brain function, including problem-solving abilities, coordination, and attention to detail.

    By drinking plenty of water (eight 8-ounce glasses a day), individuals can maintain optimal brain function to help them thrive in night classes.

    Wear Comfortable Clothing

    Comfortable clothes and shoes can make all the difference for aspiring and current nurses who work full time before their night class. Focusing in class can be difficult, especially after a day of work. Being uncomfortable can often distract students from concentrating on the content of the course.

    Keep Realistic Expectations

    When taking evening classes and managing daily schedules, nurses must make sure they can realistically handle all of their responsibilities. Therefore, nurses must ensure everything on their schedule can be done and done well.

    “Nursing students should keep their expectations of themselves and their time realistic to be able to tackle everything on their plates,” Rhoads explains.

    Remember to Stay Positive

    Regardless of an individual’s motivation behind taking evening classes, maintaining a positive attitude improves the benefits of the entire process. Students must recognize why they are taking these courses and maintain a sense of intrinsic motivation that drives them to succeed.

    Meet Our Contributors

    Portrait of Dr. Jenna Liphart Rhoads

    Dr. Jenna Liphart Rhoads

    Dr. Jenna Liphart Rhoads is a nurse educator and freelance author and editor. She earned a BSN from Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing and a master of science in nursing education from Northern Illinois University.

    Dr. Liphart Rhoads earned a Ph.D. in education with a concentration in nursing education from Capella University, where she researched the moderation effects of emotional intelligence on the relationship of stress and GPA in military veteran nursing students. Her clinical background includes surgical-trauma adult critical care, interventional radiology procedures, and conscious sedation in adult and pediatric populations. She currently resides in Wisconsin with her husband and two children.

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