The Pros and Cons of Being an Adult Learner

The Pros and Cons of Being an Adult Learner

The thought of going back to school after having your life pretty much established for years can be a bit terrifying. That's how I felt after deciding to go back to school after being out of college or years, getting married, buying a house, and having a baby. I thought, do I have time for this? Am I still cut out for college life? The late nights studying, the early morning classes, the financial burden, etc.

But then I thought about something else…Do I feel fulfilled with my current career? Am I happy on the drive to work every morning? Am I doing something I love? Can I honestly encourage my kids to follow their dreams if I don't follow mine?

The answer to all those questions was a HARD no. That's when I knew I had to go back, despite all the thoughts and questions racing through my head. 

Fast-forward to my junior year in my BSN program, I've learned that I'm at an advantage in some areas compared to the rest of my nursing cohort.

If you're wondering if it's too late to go back and become a nurse or wondering if you'll have a hard time adjusting to the nursing student lifestyle, read some of my pros and cons below!


  • You have so many life experiences that will help you better relate to your patients, seriously! You can understand what your patients are experiencing because you've gone through it yourself (grieving a loved one, birthing a baby, struggling financially, the stress of a promotion). You are better prepared to provide focused, patient-centered care because you know the patient's needs and are equipped to communicate effectively and efficiently. 
  • And speaking of communication, you're probably a pro at this too! Communication can be one of the more difficult things to learn in Nursing School. As we get older, our communication skills continue to develop because of our time at different jobs, talking to other professionals, clients, and family. You can try to teach therapeutic communication, but it's so much easier to figure out when you've had practice.
  • You are more mature. You know what you want out of your life, and you're willing to sacrifice your time and money to become what you want. Nursing school wasn't something you just did after high school because everyone else was doing it. You made a conscious decision to go back to school and spend what little free time you already had to help others. That's commendable and a true sign of maturity.
  • In my personal experience, I'd even say imposter syndrome isn't as prevalent because you are an adult surrounded by other like-minded adults-like your professors and clinical instructors, even the staff at your clinical sites! You've had YEARS becoming a professional in the workplace, and you have the advantage of applying that in your nursing school education. 
  • You are less distracted by everything that generally comes with being a first-time college student. You have a sense of self and are secure with who you are, you're not worried about being the popular kid on campus, and parties aren't on your weekly agenda. You have more time to focus on your goals and have the tools needed to achieve them.


There are SOME cons-

  • If you're like me, every second of your day is probably already planned out. From appointments for you, the kids, and the pets, grocery shopping, cleaning the house…you are strapped for time! Adding in studying and going to class, you're looking at a full schedule. But bright side! You're much less likely to procrastinate because you've spent your adulthood working on your time management skills, and you have the help of your Student Nurse Planner to help you schedule your semesters and stay on track with assignments.
  • Time off from school makes it difficult to adjust, especially if you're coming off 5, 10, or more years without actively enrolling in a class. But remember, you didn't spend the last however many years sitting on the couch. You've been actively experiencing different cultures, roles, and relationships that will help you apply nursing concepts more easily!

Don't ever let the cons stop you from getting what you want. Because no matter how many cons there are, I bet you there are twice as many positives. Focus on those and go after your dreams.

You've got this, Student Nurse!!!


Written by: Mary Vadenais

Instagram: marybvadenais



1 comment

Oct 25, 2021

I can’t tell you how this blog resonates with me on all levels.. I thought I was insane going back to school with my two kids, working, with my life covered in responsibility and chores. I’m glad I made the choice to go back and there is no turning back now. Going for my BSN and 2 years down.. thank you for reminding me that I’m doing something worthwhile. I appreciate you!!

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