Accredited Online LVN To RN Programs – The Definitive Guide
Accreditation is the single most important aspect of any nursing school you might submit an application to. It is not worth your time or money to apply to a school of nursing that has not earned accreditation from a Secretary of Education-approved commission. Two of the most reputable accreditors that evaluate nursing programs in the U.S. are:
Online LVN to RN Programs
Plenty of online LVN to RN programs are accredited, and the ones that are will note which agency accredited them and how recently on their website. All of the schools linked from this site are accredited providers of nursing education. The accreditation process is designed to confirm that a school not only provides up-to-date education and career preparation, but that the school has a long term plan for maintaining the quality of their education and support for their students and alumni. Some of the categories of requirements for accreditation listed at The Higher Learning Commission’s website are:
- Mission and Integrity: This broad category of requirements provides space in the application process for a school to show that they are connected both with their community of students and the professional community that those students will enter. The HLC specifically requires the school to prove that its “mission, vision, values, and goals documents define the varied internal and external constituencies the organization intends to serve.”
- Preparing for the Future: “The organization’s allocation of resources and its processes for evaluation and planning demonstrate its capacity to fulfill its mission, improve the quality of its education, and respond to future challenges and opportunities.”
- Student Learning and Effective Teaching: “The organization provides evidence of student learning and teaching effectiveness that demonstrates it is fulfilling its educational mission.”
- Acquisition, Discovery, and Application of Knowledge: “The organization promotes a life of learning for its faculty, administration, staff, and students by fostering and supporting inquiry, creativity, practice, and social responsibility in ways consistent with its mission.”
Throughout the several-year accreditation application process, schools must conduct self-studies and rigorously document their commitment to, and success with, their educational missions.
Other Important Qualities of Online LVN to RN Programs
Having determined that any programs you’re looking at have been accredited by the appropriate agencies, it’s time to look at some other aspects of online nursing programs that can differentiate the programs with the best value.
- Scheduling: Trying to balance a career with an education, even an online course that lets you work from a computer anywhere, is tough. There are three common scheduling structures of online education programs: semesters, trimesters, and quarters. Some schools offer accelerated programs in which students take a single course at a time, and each course finishes in a month or six weeks.
- Program Curriculum: While the core curriculum for LVN to RN programs will be fairly similar at different schools, there may be elective courses or niche research that you are interested in that certain schools offer and others don’t. A quick phone call or email to the college itself should shed some light on what makes their LVN to RN program unique.
- Cost: Everyone wants the best price on their education, whether they take online classes or live in a dorm room on a campus. It can be hard to calculate the total cost of higher education because of variables like textbook and class materials costs and the price of living in different cities, but the financial aid office at a college should be able to give you a relatively accurate estimate of how much your education will cost.
- Reputation: If you know anyone who has made the transition from LVN to RN licensure, and spent extra time in college to make it happen, they can probably give you some unique insight into the school they went to. They have also been through the application process and can probably offer advice on how to ease the pain of application paperwork and the scholarship search.
Clearly, the above criteria are subjective. Each individual will have their own requirements for the “perfect” education program, and you may not be able to find them all in a single program. However, if it has been a while since you needed to evaluate colleges and choose one, the above list can offer some basic guidelines.Whatever you do, you’ll need to plan a significant chunk of your life, at least several years, to get enough education to really rise to the top of the nursing field. The following graph shows the approximate number of years it takes to attain different levels of nursing education. The times displayed are not cumulative, so if you want to earn both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, you could be in school upwards of 9 years, though there are accelerated programs that can combine bachelor’s and master’s degrees with PhDs to significantly reduce the time commitment.
Loans, Grants, and Employer Financial Assistance
Most accredited educational institutions also offer some form of financial aid to their students. There are several standard government-issued loans and grants that can be disbursed through colleges, along with thousands of available private scholarships. Another way to get financial assistance is to ask your current employer, especially if you are already an LVN, to help pay for your school. Employers sometimes offer an annual continuing education stipend that can be applied to a degree program or just some classes that broaden and enrich their employees’ skills. Other places to look for funding could be:
- Government Financial Aid: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the place to start when looking for education assistance from the government. With this one form, you can apply for Stafford and Perkins loans and Pell grants, which make up a combined several billion dollars of the government’s education spending each year. The amount you are awarded depends on several factors, including your income, or your parents’ income if you are still claimed as a dependent on their tax forms.
- Industry and Professional Associations: Some professional organizations offer scholarships for nurses who have shown outstanding dedication or leadership potential. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing is one such organization.
- Private Scholarships: There are many scholarships offered by individuals or foundations that support work in a particular field, and this is especially relevant to nursing.
- Friends and Family: Getting support from your personal network of close friends and relatives can be one of the best ways to fund your education. People you trust and have known for a long time are more likely to want to help you out, and are invested in your success. Many banks will help set up a “Friends and Family Loan” which is customized completely, then monitored by the bank’s secure system, even though the bank isn’t taking a percentage of the loan or earning interest on it.
How Long Should LVN to RN Programs Take?
Unless you manage to score a full-ride scholarship, the longer you spend in school, the more costly it will be. Each added year or semester of school will add thousands of dollars to your total tab, and for this and other reasons, most students want to get through college as quickly as possible, especially if they’re on their second round.
Most LVN to RN programs last around two years for students with a full course load. This time could be diminished by taking courses year-round or finding an accelerated program with shorter, more intense class offerings. These programs can be stressful and high pressure, so students with families or other jobs should carefully consider whether the time saved will be worth the stress of doing constant, intense classes for a year or more.
Ultimately, the length of an LVN to RN curriculum will depend on how many credits a student comes in with, and how many courses they can take at once. Since the salary bump from LVN to RN is so significant (over $20,000 according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics), it might be worth it to take on some debt and opt for a longer timeline than cramming as many classes into as little time as possible.
Researching Accreditation of LVN to RN Programs
Any college website should disclose the accreditation status of the school, but there is also a handy government-operated website that makes it easy to research the credentials of multiple schools rapidly. The Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs offers downloadable data about specific schools as well as a large file with the accreditation status of every school in the database to make this research as convenient as possible for students-to-be.
Online Nursing Bridge Programs
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