How to Get Ahead in Nursing School...During Semester Breaks!

by Cathy Parkes July 16, 2021 Updated: August 09, 2023 1 min read 2 Comments

In this video, Cathy explains how she used semester breaks to get ahead in nursing school. In here, she talks about summer break, but this philosophy also applies to winter and spring breaks.


  • Work ahead
    • Get ahold of your syllabus for each class
    • See what projects and papers will be due
    • Bust out a rough draft of a paper
    • Start on a project
  • Pre-learning
    • Spend some time this summer:
    • Learning material for the second time once the semester starts helps lock in knowledge
    • Spend time over multiple days and weeks, no marathon sessions

Want to get ahead in Fundamentals this summer?

Check out these Fundamentals of Nursing resources:

Full Transcript

Hey, it's Cathy. So I just got back from a walk, which always energizes me. And I was thinking of my nursing students out there in the Level Up RN community, and I was wondering how many of you have the summer off? So how many of you only go to school in the spring and fall? And for those of you who are off this summer, how many of you might be interested in getting ahead, to set yourself up for success in the coming semester. So some of you may be like, "No. I need this break. I am not interested in studying nursing or any of that during the summer." And I totally respect that. However, if you have some motivation or interest in getting ahead, then keep listening.

So when I was in nursing school, I was in an accelerated bachelor's program. So we went to school spring, summer, fall; spring, summer, fall. And we had like two or three weeks off in between semesters. So between my spring and summer session, we had two weeks off, and I knew during that time that the upcoming semester in the summer was a condensed curriculum. So I was going to have to learn pediatric nursing in 10 weeks, along with two other classes. So I worked ahead, and that's something that I would recommend to you if you can handle it.

So I got ahold of the syllabus for the class, as well as the syllabi for my other classes, and I looked to see what projects or papers would be due in the coming semester, and I got a head start on those. So I busted out a rough draft of a paper and started on a project. And that way, when the semester started, I could really focus on learning the material and doing practice exams and I wouldn't be so spread thin with all these projects, papers, and trying to learn all that material in 10 weeks. So if you're able to get ahold of a syllabus and get ahead, you will thank yourself when you get to the coming semester.

Alternatively, if you have motivation to try to learn the material that you'll be learning in the upcoming semester, that will also serve you well. So, let's say you have Pediatric Nursing in the fall. If you spend some time this summer watching our videos here on Level Up RN or reviewing our flashcards or both, ideally, then you will be in such better shape when you hear that same material for the second time in the coming semester. So it won't be the first time you've heard it or learned it, and once you hear it for the second time, it will lock itself into your brain and you will do so much better.

So this same type of thing applies for people who have failed out of a class. So some people who took that Pediatric Nursing class in the summer with me over those 10 weeks failed out because the pace was brutal. But then, when they came back and had to take it again another semester, they ended up getting an A. And why is that? Well, it was the second time that they heard that material, and it just makes it so much easier to grasp those concepts.

So I invite you all to partake in my freakish ways that I did in nursing school and either get ahead on some papers and projects that you know are forthcoming, or spend a couple hours over multiple days - so no big marathon sessions over one day, just a couple hours most days of the week - listening to our videos, reviewing our flashcards. And when you get to your fall semester, you will be in amazing shape, and I know you guys will kill it.

2 Responses


October 31, 2023

This is how I plan to get ahead ! I’m 4 weeks away from completing my first semester of 5 classes in an accelerated program as well! Working ahead saved me !


October 07, 2021

Wow I find this tip very useful. Just like it was meant for me personally..I am taking med.surg.1 and I needed to hear this.

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