Online nursing schools may seem like a very attractive option if you do not have the resources or means to enter a school that offers offline tuition.
There are certainly a number of advantages to studying online as well as a variety of schools for you to choose from that offer LPN training in this format. Before you read on, however, note the following potential disadvantages to online study:
- Studying online means that you will miss out on valuable interaction with teachers and other students
- It also means that your clinical work will be harder to complete – clearly this cannot be done online, so it is necessary for you to make alternative arrangements to complete your clinical portion of your studies
- You will have to find a way to keep yourself motivated as there will be no one around looking over your shoulder to make sure that you do the work
- Some employers do not take online qualifications as seriously as offline qualifications (even though this is not a justified prejudice)
These are all things that you can overcome, but it is important to keep them in mind as you go through the process o considering and selecting online nursing colleges.
Reasons To Choose Online Nursing Schools
We have already touched on some of the things that may stand in your way of successfully becoming a nurse through online LPN school. However there are also a number of aspects of online nursing schools that make the options very attractive indeed. These include:
- The cost of tuition, which tends to be lower
- The fact that you don’t have to bother with classroom structures
- The high degree of flexibility, and
- The chance to keep your current job while you study
Each of these will be discussed in more detail below.
Online nursing schools tend to be cheaper than what you could refer to as offline nursing schools. This is because you do not need to contribute to the cost of materials or facilities in your tuition fees. This makes it a very attractive option indeed.
However if the cost of tuition is the only reason why you need to do an online course remember that there are various financial aid options to help you take an offline course in the shape of:
- Affordable student loans
- Grants, that you do not have to repay
- Scholarships that reward you for being a top achiever
- Aid from an employer who would like you to become an LPN
Online schools are not a bad idea at all, but you do have options financially speaking and you can consider a broader horizon than just the online nursing school option.
With an online program you will not have to put up with a classroom situation, something which a lot of students find hold them back. This is because the convener of the course runs the class at the speed of the slowest learner. If you are not the slowest learner you may not find the classroom structure conducive. Many students also find that working in a room full of other students distracts them.
If you choose an online college you will not have to attend any classes at all. Everything that the course convener or lecturer wants to say to you will be communicated online in a virtual way. For example they may email you your assignment tasks and your results. Or there may be an online platform that the school uses through which you and your lecturer communicate. All this is related to one of the most attractive features of an online program: the flexibility. This will be discussed next.
Own Study Times And Flexibility
One of the main reasons (after the cost of the program) why students often select online nursing colleges is the fact that the schedule is substantially more flexible. This is ideal for people who:
- Work full-time and who cannot give up their jobs in order to study. These people will be able to study at night and on the weekend in their own time.
- People who have young children who require a great deal of attention. These people will be able to fit their study schedule in around the activities of their children.
Online programs are not nearly as strict as offline programs. When it comes to assignments there may be due dates but you will probably find that you have more freedom in terms of submissions. The best advantage is that you can set your own schedule so that your studies fit in neatly with your other obligations.
Work And Learn
Again, this ties in with the previous reason for joining an online school. The flexibility of the schedule means that you will not have to give up your current job in order to study further. A lot of people simply cannot afford to do this which is one of the key reasons why these online programs are so attractive to so many people.
In addition you may find that if you are already employed in a health care capacity as, for example, a CNA, your employer or the institute that you work for may have ties with an online university that offers nursing programs. To become an LPN you need to complete a certain amount of clinical training. You could do this under supervision at your current place of employment while completing the necessary theory course work online. Inquire at your hospital as to what options that have in this regard and see if you can get help that way.
Requirements For Online Nursing Schools
There are some general requirements that you will have to adhere to when making the decision to study for your nursing qualification online.
Firstly you need to make an effort to submit your application forms before the closing date. These forms include your actual application form for the school that you plant to attend as well as the FAFSA form if you plan to apply for financial aid. Even with online schools this is an important requirement. There are also some basic education requirements that you will have to meet:
- Most online programs require that you have a high school diploma or a GED in order to attend the school.
- In addition there is normally a minimum GPA that is required to qualify for an online school.
In addition you may have to pass entrance exams in order to get into the nursing school. This happens far less frequently with online schools than with face-to-face schools. Find out if this is a requirement before you apply for the school.
Many nursing schools require a background check and a drug test. Again this is less frequent in the case of online school, but it is still a requirement you must be ready and able to meet if necessary.
Top Online Nursing Schools
Let us take a look at some of the specific options that you have. There are not many online LPN schools to choose from, but the ones that do exist are of fairly good quality. The most popular options are:
- The University of Phoenix
- Kaplan University
- Indiana State University
- Dover Business College
- Ball State University
- Chamberlain University
- Davidson County Community College
- Hutchinson Community College
- Northwest Technical College
- Regis University
As far as online nursing programs go, these are the best. If you have the option, go for these ones first.
Things To Keep In Mind When Choosing Online Nursing Colleges
There are a few key factors that you should keep in mind when trying to choose the best online school for you. The schools mentioned above are some of the better known options, but chances are that you will find advertisements for other online schools. However, many of these turn out to be scams to get your money leaving you with a useless qualification. On the other hand they may be legitimate schools that do not offer decent tuition and that therefore prevent you from passing the necessary examination. A close examination of each school with the following factors in mind is required.
The reputation of the school is a key factor to look out for. Obviously it is better to consider the better known schools as they have established reputations and there is a lot of information available regarding their academic records. If you are considering a school that is not on the list you should consider reading online consumer reviews. Finding out what past pupils felt about the school can have a huge impact on your own perception of the school. In addition you should take the time to inquire at the health care institutions in your area, regardless of whether or not they are places where you would one day like to work as an LPN. Ask them whether or not they would consider hiring someone with a qualification from that school. The perception of prospective employers is perhaps the most important factor in the reputations of online nursing schools.
There are two bodies that can accredit online LPN schools. These are:
- The National League of Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC)
- The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
The one that you are interested in as a prospective LPN is the NLNAC. This is the body that gives accreditation to undergraduate programs, such as the LPN program. An important factor in choosing a school is determining whether or not the school is properly accredited. If it is not you will not be permitted to take the examination and you will therefore not be able to work as an LPN. You will effectively have wasted your time and your money. Your state’s board of nursing will be able to inform you whether or not the school you are interested in is properly accredited. In addition the information should be displayed openly on the school’s website (although you should always double check these claims). If a school is not willing to disclose information regarding whether or not it is accredited you should treat it with suspicion.
The cost of the program is of course something that you will have to consider, especially if your financial situation is a limited one. Most people think that the more expensive a program is, the better the tuition you will receive from that program. This is far from being a consistent rule. Some schools trade on their names while their tuition quality drops. What you need to do is compare the pass rate from the school and the relevance of the coursework against the cost of the program in order to best determine whether you are in fact getting good value for money. The program offered by the school needs to prepare you for two things in order to be worth your money:
- It must prepare you for the NCLEX-PN exam
- It must prepare you for your actual career as a nurse
Most of the key information that you should be aware of regarding online nursing schools is contained above. Perhaps the most important factors that you should keep in mind in this regard are those related to selecting the best school for you. On top of the practical factors mentioned above there are a number of personality factors to take into account, namely:
- Do you have the self-motivation necessary to complete your nursing qualification online, or
- Do you require the structure of a normal classroom situation?
People who get frustrated easily when they do not understand something may have trouble with online nursing schools. This may mean that a face-to-face situation may be better for them. However it is obvious that this is not always possible. If you do have to select a route to your qualification that does involve in-congruency with your personality, be aware of that in-congruency at all times in order to account for it.