Are you a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) thinking about taking the plunge and becoming a Registered Nurse (RN)? Go for it! Becoming an RN is a great career move. According to the US Department of Labor, RNs made an average of nearly $25,000 more per year than LPNs in 2017  . (Having more RNs also benefits humanity as a whole, if you’re into that sort of thing.) Best of all, thanks to modern online LPN to RN programs, you can level up your degree from the comfort of your own laptop.
However, online LPN to RN programs are a bit like used cars: Some are a great deal and will get you where you want to go, but others will leave you broke and stranded. Choosing the right program is tremendously important—so we’re here to help you make the right call. Read on, and learn the good, the bad, and the ugly of online LPN to RN programs.
The Good of Online LPN to RN Programs
- Online all the time
By their very nature, online LPN to RN programs enable you to participate from anywhere that has internet access. No trips to the Student Adviser’s office or laps around the Quad required.
- Make your own schedule
Do your commitments to your family, job, or life in general make it impossible to squeeze in real-world classes? Many online programs give you the freedom to complete your coursework within your own time frame. Want to take your class at 3am on Sunday? No problem. Neither is noon Saturday, 6pm Wednesday, or any other time.
- Live instructors and virtual classrooms
Some programs (like ours!) still offer virtual classroom sessions taught by real human instructors. If your schedule permits it, you can get your teaching live and in (streaming video) person. You can ask questions, get feedback—maybe even text your teacher an apple emoji.
- It’s cheaper than going to a traditional nursing school
Do you like money? Especially when it’s yours? Online LPN to RN programs enable you to keep more of it. Sometimes thousands of dollars more.
- It’s often faster, too.
Traditional nursing programs fill up, and it’s not unusual for you to get waitlisted. With online programs, you can enroll and start courses within weeks.
The Bad of Online LPN to RN Programs
- You’re often alone
Sure, you can interact with your instructor at specified times, but online programs tend to offer far fewer opportunities for one-on-one consultation. It’s also much harder to meet up with fellow students at the library for a group study session.
- You have to self-motivate
This is a big one. Traditional LPN to RN programs are structured and rigid. You have deadlines and test days and other people pushing you to hit your deadlines and goals. Online LPN to RN programs offer a ton more freedom, but with great flexibility comes great responsibility. With no classes, no assignments or support from instructors It’s your job to set your deadlines—and then hit them.
- Your support network may be smaller
On a related note, make sure that your online nursing program provides individualized support and remediation programs for use in the event that you fail a course. Also ask the organization to provide their current student pass rates. Good programs can tout pass rates between 94%-96%.
- Hidden fees
It seems everyone from your cable company to your gardener charges hidden fees these days, so why would online colleges be any different? Beware of hidden costs that can actually raise your overall expenses. For example, many online LPN to RN programs tack on up to $600 per course in books alone. Doesn’t every college course require books, you ask? Pretty much, yes. But some online nursing programs include books in the cost of tuition. Be sure to inquire about a program’s additional fees before you enroll.
The Ugly of Online LPN to RN Programs
There are dozens of fantastic online LPN to RN programs out there. But there are also quite a few that sound great, but fail to prepare you for success. Be on the lookout for these shenanigans:
- Lack of structure or support
Freedom and flexibility are great, but some schools have so little structure and support that you’re left feeling aimless and under-prepared.
- Tuition tie-down
Some programs may force you to keep paying tuition even if you leave the program. Does that sound fair to you? (Hint: No. No, it does not.)
- Not fully accredited
Worst of all, you may even complete your coursework, only to find that your program wasn’t exactly as accredited as you were led to believe. Your school should be fully accredited and recognized by the State Board of Nursing.
We hope this discussion of the good, bad and ugly about online LPN to RN programs has helped you become more confident in selecting a good online nursing program. To get the most out of your virtual learning experience, look for organizations like Achieve Test Prep, where you’ll receive the structure and support needed to successfully earn your RN.
Learn more about how Achieve can help you earn your accredited RN online.