The right online RN program. How can you tell if an online program is reputable? Successful? Student-focused? First, check for these key features:
1. Online Program Orientation
Getting onboard in a totally new environment can be nerve-wracking. That’s why most of today’s best companies create orientation programs for new employees. Good bosses understand that the first day of anything is intimidating. Newbies need time to learn the technology, set up their email accounts, meet their peers, figure out where the bathroom is…
Okay. Granted, an online nursing student you won’t need directions to the bathroom. But everything else applies here. Even if you’re already pretty savvy on a computer, look for programs that care about your comfort factor and early success. Programs that offer an “introduction to virtual learning” or similar orientation hit the mark.
The internet is amazing, but sometimes it’s hard to tell what you’re actually getting. Just ask anyone who’s ever tried online dating. Catfish, anyone?
Quality online programs won’t make you guess. They will be upfront about the teaching staff, the student success rates, course withdrawal policies or other key factors that impact your decisions. You can often gauge the transparency level of an online RN program by browsing its FAQ section, visiting its contact page and checking for student testimonials. Schools with something to hide will dodge the details—making phone numbers, physical addresses, and real names hard to find.
3. Easy Access to Instructors
Online RN programs are popular because they’re convenient. Case closed. If you have the opportunity to avoid commuter traffic, added fuel costs, schlepping around campus in the freezing cold or the sweltering heat, not to mention those infamous student parking tickets, you should definitely take it.
But you should also demand the same easy access to instructors that campus students enjoy. When researching virtual RN programs, ask about instructors’ office hours—these are designated time slots when you can contact specific faculty members and expect to find them available. Since many RN students have busy working schedules, it’s also important to know you can reach your instructors outside of normal workday hours. Ask if phone, chat or email access to instructors is encouraged and what the average response time is.
4. Personal Attention
Do you remember your favorite teacher ever? Maybe a fourth grade librarian who introduced you to a great author? Maybe a high school coach who pushed you to try harder? We all have different stories, but our favorite teachers share one thing in common: they knew us well.
Adult students need that same level of attention—probably even more so, given all the chores and responsibilities that compete for our time. Worthwhile online programs will make a point to meet you, individually. And they’ll make recommendations based on your academic history or personal learning style. If you struggle with specific courses or overall progress, they will have support options in place (like one-on-one tutoring). In the end, you’ll have real-life, first name-basis supporters to thank—not just a URL and a student login.
Ready to find the right nursing school? Start your search today.