Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Upgrading final marks and what now?

I completed my upgrading program about three weeks ago to success. My final marks are as follows:

- Biology 100%
- Chemistry 98%
- Math - 93%

So, my marks were all submitted to OCAS and the school that I applied to, administrations department had received them. I was successful in getting a seat in the full time program! Success.

In the meantime though, while completing my math course, I came across an article on Allnurses about my school offering the nursing program on a part time basis. I believe I had heard about it before but never thought about it at all. However, I started to think about it and looked into the program due to some changes that took place all in the last month of my life.

An important thing that took place is that I was offered and accepted a new job. It is not in health care and is actually in the current field I am trying to break out of but there was a reason why I took the job. At my current place of work (which I actually leave tomorrow), as a part time worker, I do not have access to full on benefits or company RSP contributions. We all know how important it is to save for the future and this was just a perk of the job that I no longer enjoyed. As an adult, health care benefits is incredibly important. This new job has afforded me health insurance, a retirement savings program and also the ability to start and finish early daily. Plus, a different environment.

I did not really have a problem, per se, with my current job but things are very strained here. A lot of people have been let go in the last few months and due to my status, I did not think my position was very secure. Not that my new position will be secure because, really, there is no job security these days. However, change is good.

So back to the part time program. I applied and am waiting for a reply on if I am accepted or not. I do think I have a very good change but I will see. I should know latest tomorrow. If I do get in, my plan is to take 2 course this semester while working full time. I have a firm plan in place for this program but I will talk about that more in my next post. In the meantime, I am waiting here for an update on acceptance to the part time PRN program. Update on that shortly.

Monday, July 18, 2016

A bit about the person behind the blog

A few things about me -

  • A goal of mine is to attain a Biology Degree for no other reason than for myself
  • I love to read
  • Favorite romantic movie is The Notebook
  • Movies where things are being blown up are my favorite
  • Have a burning passion for horror movies
  • Seen as many horror movies in the theatre as I can
  • Hate clothes shopping
  • Makeup is my life
  • I am addicted to shopping for makeup
  • My Youtube subscriptions are made up of 98% makeup gurus
  • I once dreamed of an eye shadow palette that I could not afford for five nights straight. I eventually went back to get it and have felt nothing but happiness since then
  • Until recently, I had not watched TV for about two year
  • My new TV love is The Walking Dead
  • The Walking Dead is the only show I currently watch
  • Michonne from TWD is my bae
  • I would rather work out for the rest of my life than be on a diet
  • I was vegan, currently vegetarian but transitioning to a vegan diet
  • I love breakfast for dinner
  • I hate noise
  • I love candle light
  • I am passionate about the empowerment of girls
  • I used to run an online magazine to empower girls in my city
  • Site is now debunked but once I am finished school, I will reopen
  • I want to own my own business (through my girls website)
  • I am easily bored
  • My favorite time of day is early morning with sun shining on my face
  • I am not fond of nosey people
  • I am a classic introvert
  • I love the ideas of parties but clam up around a lot of people
  • Having children is not something I ever want. Ever
  • I hate romantic song and gestures - cringe worthy to me
  • I am forever single and prefer my life this way
  • I am a loud laugher
  • I like all white rooms with pops of loud color
  • Music blasting in my car is imperative but quiet in my house

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Upgrading Experience

In my last post, I promised I would do a write up on my experience in the upgrading program thus far, so here we go. Initially, I had no idea this type of program even existed. When I was unsuccessful in my attempt to get into nursing school the first time, I moped around for about two weeks and then got back on the horse. I knew what I wanted and had to make it happen.

I found out about the program through the schools (that I am currently taking it at) program advisor. In almost all correspondence, she kept telling me to look into upgrading. I was of the mind that it would be an inconvenience and since I had to work, I would rather take my upgrades at night. When I finally took her advise, I realized that it might be a viable option. Now, for me, my boss has been very nice and let me take off in the middle of the day to attend class. This might not be allowable for everyone. I do make up my time so that means I work a lot of after hours and hardly ever take lunch. It is worth it though. The beauty of the program is that it is free. Each of the courses offered by colleges overall, if you take it outside of the program, is around $350.00 each. So, that is a major saving.

So far, the courses are really interesting and good. In comparison to taking the pre-health program (which is university bound), the upgrading courses are almost a cake walk. Almost. It is full and the course material is extensive but in comparison, pre health is a lot more intense. To compare and contrast, pre health went extremely deep, to a micro level, on body systems. Upgrading did also but not as deep.

My school's upgrading program is a highly run, smooth machine. When it was time to send our grades to OCAS, they did it within a few days and the applicant schools had received them quickly. It was all run pretty smooth. The only fly in the ointment for me is that the classes are run in the day. That is a huge turn off for me and was upsetting. I personally have to work so taking the time off when needed and rearranging my life to accommodate this was a struggle. Now that I am close to completely it, I would still say that if you have to work during the day, this program is a bit cumbersome.

Overall, I would recommend the program due to a few things. One, it's free. Two, the subject matter is interesting and accepted by all colleges in Ontario (at least). Three, it gives you what you need and nothing else (ie, no fluff). Four, the books are free as well. Five, the material is intense but doable. Downsides? One, I would have to say the time of day it is offered. Two, the online courses are not available for each class and three, most in-class courses run anywhere from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Not very handy if you have to work. Overall, I would recommend this any person out of high school at least 7 to 10 years and needing a career change or returning to school for whatever reason. Just be prepared to work.

If you need more information on this program, please leave me a comment below.

Monday, June 13, 2016

On how I faired last semester

I finished my last semester about 8 or 9 weeks ago to some great results. I am currently completing the last math that I need and that will be that in terms of upgrading. I have to admit that I cannot wait until the end of August when this will all be done. I am so looking forward to being done. I hope to take a mini weekend vacation in September and enjoy a few months off.

Eight or 9 weeks ago, I was busy studying for my finals. I was super busy and enjoyed as well as dreaded this time. I had two exams in one week and another the week before. My study methods were pretty simple. I created study notes for all classes and reviewed, reviewed, reviewed. Cramming is not for me so I could not do that. I was a nervous mess for all exams but in the end, I performed pretty good.

The final marks were posted with two days of the exams being taken so less stress for people like me who like to know how they did pretty much right away. My final marks were as follows.

Chemistry - 98%
Biology - 100%
Math 1 - 96%

Not too bad. The biology I was pleasantly happy about this (to be fair, I have always excelled in this course because I love the subject matter). I walked into the exam pretty confident but when I sat down, I got super nervous. I will say that chemistry exceeded my expectations. I have never enjoyed or liked the subject. Ever. I am not a technical person and find chemistry extremely boring. Or I should say, I just don't care enough. Even though I struggled in that class to keep the motivation up, sometimes it was lagging. I always had to force myself to really keep determined in this class but overall, I did pretty well. And, I am proud of my marks.

In terms of nursing school options, I made my choice and will be attending January 2017 (only to save money and my sanity). Fortunately, I was accepted to all schools (conditional on this math I am taking right now). I decided to make an informed decision based on the schools themselves. I took a drive to all the campuses and liked one of them the best. One was about 30 minutes away from my house but I did not like the drive. There is a large hill/mountain that straight out scares me. I do not fancy driving up and down that mountain in the middle of winter. And, if anyone knows about winters in Eastern Ontario, they understand where I am coming from. If I had no choice, I would of course made the daily drive. But, I decided to check out the another school. Now school two was my initial first choice but the location of my preferred campus was just too far away. But, because the nursing is so large, they offer the program on three campuses. I visited the other campus of choice for school two, and really liked it. It is an "unconventional" campus but the school is still the same. I was in real like. I gave myself a bit of a tour and saw the nursing simulation lab, the study rooms, the computer rooms, class rooms etc. Everything looks pretty good. The campus is very intimate which is a plus for me.

The third school is at the campus I am currently taking my upgrading courses. Although I do like the school, I chose not to go there. Although small, it is a large school and I prefer smaller campuses.

After stewing over my choices for a few days, I chose school two. I am very happy with my choice so far. It is a hard school/program and that scares me but I don't think any nursing school, anywhere, is easy. I mean, the subject matter is nothing to joke about so of course the material will be heavy.

That is all I have for you now. I have completed 3 of the 4 courses. I should be over this hump of my journey in August. I will do a write up on my experience so far and what this upgrading session does to my time line. Until next time, stay motivated!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Upgrading update: 4 more weeks, the urinary system and application progress

It has been busy around my parts. The upgrading program has been a blessing and sometimes a curse. A blessing in that I can upgrade the courses that are needed and hopefully get a seat in the nursing program of my choice. It is a slight curse only due to the work load and sheer volume sometimes. I am still managing everything like a champ but this week I had a mini breakdown.

I was at my wits end with the constant studying. I felt that nothing was penetrating my brain and that made me panic. But, I think I was just extremely tired. Staying on top of everything all the time in all areas of my life was getting to me. In any case, I was able to get back track. Sleep really is a great thing. Has a lot of resortative properties.

I have four more weeks until this section of the program is complete. I will leave it with a bitter sweet feeling. I have met some really lovely people in the program who are truly good folk. I have one specific teacher who I absolutely respect and think the world of. She is really supportive and wants us to succeed. Overall, four weeks to go and I am geared and pumped up.

I have a really great average right now (95%) so I want to end the semester with excellent marks. In order to do this, I have started to prep for last tests already. The last BIO test will be in four weeks but I am already starting my studying this coming weekend. The units we are learning now are all very heavy and take a lot of work to master. It is just a matter of staying on top of the heap.

The urinary system is a beast! I thought the respiratory system was a lot to know but I think nephrons actually beat it for me. It is a complete and total monster but somehow I completed my test on that section. Marks are not posted as of yet but I asked my teacher and she said that I did really well so that is comforting. I think.

Last but not least, is my application process update. I applied to three schools in total. One school due, really to the small campus size and familiarity to it. I know the nursing program there is a good one. I know it is a lovely campus and the school is highly regarded. My only vice with this is the location. For me, it is about an hours drive. Not too bad in reality and something I can totally work with if need be.

My other choice is a school I didn't know existed, literally, until a few months ago. I mean, I assume I heard about that school somewhere along my academic life but never really paid too much attention. I end up finding out that this school has an excellent program, small campus (which is pretty important to me outside of how stupidly early the library usually closes) and is pretty close to my home. The one other great thing about this school is that it has a RPN to BScN bridging program also. That is a premium as there are very little schools in the GTA that offer this bridge and transitioning phase. Plus, sometimes already being in a school can award you insider information and perks that those applying from the outside don't get.

The last choice is actually at the school I am currently taking my upgrading classes. I used to really like this school as I used to take little side courses there off and on during the years. And, I also attained my PSW certification from this school. But, it has changed and not necessarily for the good. I think it is just the people and there are certain things I don't think I want to deal with. It is a good school. Good location. Good reputation and program. Amazing and big changes are to be had at this school in the next few years but I don't know if I want to stay there.

In terms of these schools, I have received conditional offers from two of the three and one is from my first choice school. The other is from my 2nd choice school. I am really excited about these offers but have not yet accepted. I have until the beginning of May to make my choice. I am waiting to do a school visit at an Open House early next month. I would like to see how I feel at this school (1st choice) as I know I enjoy my second choice school. Oh, on another note my 2nd choice school acceptance is for September 2016 but the 1st choice is for January 2017 start. This  happened because by the time I applied to schools, my 1st choice had closed the registration for September entry.

That's it for me on this now. I will check in again in a few weeks with more updates and news. A lot emotions have been flooding me the last few weeks and I would like to talk about that on this platform soon. Overall though, this has been a good experience.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Updating my updates

Last time I left off, I said I was going to upgrade some of my courses. Well, I am in the process of doing exactly that and it has been a busy time. Currently, I am upgrading my chemistry and math classes. I also threw biology in for good order sake. Although I have a pretty good mark in Bio, I am actually looking for excellent this time around.

How am I doing so far? Actually, not too bad. The material is the same but different, if that makes sense. Certain things I have already learned but there are other aspects that is absolutely foreign and new to me. This is actually really exciting and fun. I still dread math like the plague but I am getting through it and the same for chemistry. Biology is enjoyable and challenging at the same time.

The biggest hurtle to get over while taking these courses is getting the work done while working two jobs. I have to admit that I think this upgrading is easier than pre-health. To me, pre-health was faster, tougher and had way more volume of information presented. But, then again, pre-health was also for university bound students so, that is to be expected. These academic upgrading classes actually surprise me in some ways. Some things are much easier than my last go around but that is fine with me. I welcome the slightly slower pace. Slower pace, however, does not mean less work. 

Initially, the assignments were very easy to do and spaced out nicely. At this point, about 6 weeks in, not so much. There is a barrage of assignments, discussions, exams and tests thrown at us all at once but it is manageable. My best advise is to stay on top of things. As they come in, complete. I have been on top of everything aside from this week whereI have slacked due to some life issues. My goal is to complete two major assignments this evening so that I can get on top of the other things awaiting my attention.

Overall, I am truly enjoying this period of upgrading. The information is interesting. I am managing my time with work, school and life (no real life) much better than last year. How am I doing academically thus far? I have high A's in all courses and plan on keeping it that way.

As a side note, I started to follow the study note advise of Rachelp. Here is the link. I highly recommend this format for studying vast amounts of information. By employing this technique, I was able to pull off two A+'s on my last bio and chem tests.

I will update in the next few weeks as I have been incredibly busy. This semester finishes the end of March and the last semester (I am taking one course) is in April so hopefully I will have good news to report. As a side note, I have applied to the schools I would like to get in and mid marks will be submitted to them next week. Until next time, stay well.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Quick update

Yikes, it has been a month plus since my last post. My intention was to post weekly but since I started my upgrading classes, that hasn't happened. The reason for the delay is due to school. It has had me on my toes since I started but I will take some time this weekend and update you all. Until then, enjoy your Family Day Weekend!

Monday, January 4, 2016

How to make the return to post-secondary school comfortable as a mature student

This is a long one so please sit back and enjoy the tips.

My journey to nursing school is still in motion and has not been a smooth ride. Many hurtles have been jumped over and I am still getting over many humps. When I initially started on my journey, it was not smooth. I had been out of secondary school for a long time. My days of writing university papers and taking tests were a thing of the past. As an adult, I was dealing with work-place bureaucracy and politics. Trying to break through that ever-heightening glass ceiling. Travel. Bills. Being an adult. So, when I chose to return to school, I had to mentally prepare myself for change.

Change came in the form of receiving less income. Revised, less or no health care benefits. Long hours tackling homework and assignments. Carrying a very heavy backpack. Loud younger people. Long hours glued to a desk. Initially, I felt out of my element. I couldn’t get a firm grasp on my life. I was all over the place in a huge sea and sinking fast. May sound dramatic, but as an adult out of school 10+ years, it was a reality. After getting help from the school advisors (employ their skills as this service is already factored in the tuition you paid), I felt a bit better. I remember taking a Friday night off (something I never did again) and relaxing. The next day, after work, I sought out ways that could help my journey. I needed help. If you need some assistance as a mature student returning to school, here are a few things I did that greatly helped me.

Firstly, invest in and USE got a good planner. You don’t need to go all Erin Condrin (although she had amazing planners) but something with enough space so you can write out what you need to do daily, is ideal. Also ensure your planner has a month at a view section with enough space for writing in per month. This is where you will record your tests, exams, quizzes, due dates for all assignments - per month. Take a look at this page at least daily to ensure you are know exactly what is coming up when.

Creating a daily or weekly schedule. This may sound weird but having a schedule that is created once a week or daily with homework assignments and to-do’s is a good thing to have. (At the end of this, I will have a link that explains exactly how this is created)
Invest in a desk calendar. I bought a $5.00 desk calendar and mounted on my wall in front of my desk. This was a nice visual remider of what I needed to do while studying. It kept me organized and I never forgot an assigment. HIGHLY Recommended.

Get the proper calculator that your professors advises (wait until your first math class before you actually make the investment and heed the advise of your professor). Also, take the time and get to know how your calculator actually works. Sounds easy but trust me; you do not want to be trying to figure out what key is needed to change a formula to scientific notation during the middle of a lesson. Save time and jump on youtube to get a tutorial.

A set of good tools - pens, pencils, sharpies and high lighters. Don’t cheap out here because you will be doing a lot of writing and test taking. Get the best that you can afford so you don’t have to deal with broken lead or crappy pens or color running out in the middle of a rock-star study session.

A desk. I was gifted a used desk but it was just all wrong for my purposes. I needed something that was long enough where I could spread out my laptop, multiple books and papers while doing homework. Even online assignments require a good amount of desk space. The ability to stretch out and not be limited by surface space will be a life saver.

Creating study guides. This was something that I had never heard of before but found out about on a YouTube channel and loved. This can be a long process but the material will be cemented in your brain after reading direct from the book, creating study notes and re-reading on your down time. This is key. I have included a link on how to create these guides below.

Audio recording notes. At my school, recording lecture was not really prohibited unless you had a learning disability. So, I had to be creative. Before school started, I had invested in a small recorder (but a cell phone is more than fine) and needed to use it. I ended up recording the systems of the body and how they worked (i.e., the circulation of blood in and out of the heart) and lessons from chemistry on my recorder. Chemical reactions and chirality, to name a few, did not come easy or natural to me so I recorded myself reading my lectures notes. On my way to and from school, I listened to my recorded notes.

A good backpack or rolling bag. I initially was using my younger sister’s old bag and it was not good for me. I needed something with more support so I invested. Backpacks can be very expensive so wait for holiday sales. I got my Swissmar backpack for 60% less the price which is amazing and saved my back.

Comfy clothing. You will notice almost immediately how uncomfortable your clothing will be after spending hours in a library. One of my best investments was treating myself to some soft and comfy sweat clothing. I really enjoy the styles that Roots supplies but I can’t always afford them. The goal is not fashion (ok, it is but not imperative) but feeling relaxed during hours of study is. Heed my advice on this one.

Here are some really helpful websites that I look to for help and resources on my journey to becoming a nurse. I think they will help any student, mature or not. Enjoy.