There are things that stand out in my mind when I look back at various points in my path to nursing. I think it might be interesting to go through a few of them.
When I started on my path I was taking classes with other students that were pursuing other majors. I put little thought into getting to know anyone or being social. I had little time for that. I was studying and working most, if not all, of my time. I was lucky early on to be approved by another student who asked me "Are you trying to get into nursing school?" That was my first study partner. Her name was Sarah and she was an awesome student. She taught me a lot and she was an amazing study partner. You will most likely be taking your prerequisite classes with multiple other people who will eventually be entering the nursing program with you. I would encourage you to find like-minded students and glom onto them. The difference between grinding through anatomy flashcards by yourself, or studying with a partner is night and day. And frequently your partner has excellent insights into topics that you might never have thought about.
Recommendation letters, good grades, and connections are all amazing tools for getting into nursing school. I will give you a few tips for securing all of these. First, pre-read for the lecture you are going to attend. Come up with relevant questions for your instructor. Even better, try to come up with a question that the instructor may not know, and be willing to look it up or research the answer. When you go into class be the first person to raise your hand at least 50% of the time. Ask your questions at relevant times and if the instructor does not know the answer offer to look it up. What does this accomplish? You will be actively reading the material, which means your retention and comprehension will go up. You will be establishing a stronger relationship with the instructor. This is going to make sure a recommendation letter is in your future. Don't be surprised if the instructor becomes an ally. I frequently had instructors give me recommendations on who's classes to take in the future, tips for doing well with those instructors, and even having them introduce me to other instructors. Think about it this way. Instructors got into teaching because they want to make a difference and empower students to do well. Your goal is to be the student they love to teach.
I once precepted a new nurse who could not tell me the gallbladder was located in the abdomen. This might seem irrelevant to someone new to nursing, but it is unforgivable to a nurse that has been around for a while. You paid for the education, why the hell would you let that knowledge slip away? On top of that, you need that information to be an effective nurse. The classes you take are necessary for you to be a good nurse! Do not "brain-dump" after you finish a class. This stuff is important. Let us cover a few examples. Anatomy and physiology: I can't believe I have to spell this out, but a nurse assesses patients' bodies in order to determine what's wrong with them. If you don't know the underlying structures of the body, you have no idea what may be wrong. Chemistry: This is the basis for drug calculations, metabolism, acid/base problems, and so many other things. Math: Yes there is lots of math in nursing, trust me. I can't say I have used much geometry or calculus, but math teaches us different ways of problem-solving that can always help us be better nurses. Obviously, any class you take in nursing school is important. Nursing school teaches you everything you need to pass the NCLEX and Advanced practice nursing tests. It is a TON of information. Please understand that nursing school cram every ounce of information you should need to pass these tests into their curriculum. If it's on the curriculum is has the potential to be on the test. Schools are ranked on how their students do on the test. They do not have time to cover useless stuff. This means everything is important. Study with that in mind.
Ok, knowing what I said in #3 this seems a little counterintuitive. You CANNOT remember everything. You need to know enough to know when there is a problem. You need to know enough to know what is not right. You have to know the most common things you may run into well, and the less common things well enough to know when something does not line up. Frequently this is triggered by keywords, phrases, or 'classic cases. Let me give you an example. Question: In which patient would the nurse expect to see a greenstick fracture? First, you should know enough to know that this fracture type happens in kids. Green = young. Your answer will not be an older person, pick the kid. Question: A nurse cares for a patient after a hypophysectomy. The nurse knows that... Ok, medical terminology is a beast in its own right. You need to know the basics of it to interpret many questions. Many programs do not require you to take medical terminology, however, I would recommend it. Many times the answer is the only thing that has ANYTHING to do with the obnoxious word. A hypophysectomy is a surgery done to remove the pituitary gland. Hypophysis is just another word for the pituitary gland. And you need to know enough to link the pituitary gland to the answer (That takes us back to anatomy and physiology.)
This may seem impossible but a good study partner, active reading, and not 'brain dumping will get you to your goal! YOU CAN DO IT!!!