L et me tell you the story about how I made it through college. It isn’t pretty. IinitiallyearnedmyLPN;after I graduated, I began working night shift on a telemetry unit. This part of the story is not very noteworthy. Eventually, I realized that I wanted to earn my RN degree – and I wanted to do it with much less debt than I had accrued when I received my LPN certification. So, I checked out my hospital’s tuition reim- bursement qualifications. I had to work eight days per pay period to have 75% of my tuition paid for. But I was also trying to pay for a wedding – and I also didn’t want any student loans. So, I went back to the bar I worked at when I was earning my LPN certification, and I worked there during the day. Here’s how my life looked for two years: Go MIKE GALBAN/ISTOCK FOCUS ON EDUCATION  |  COVER STORY to work at 11:00 PM, work for eight hours, get done at 7:30 AM. Sleep until 10:15 AM. Get to the bar at 10:45 AM to open up at 11:00 AM. Work until 5:00 PM. Somehow, between 5:00 PM and 11:00 PM, I’d have to sleep, study, and eat dinner. And in that two-year period, I bought a house, got married, got a second dog, took trips to Hawaii and the Bahamas, maintained a social life, and earned my RN degree – and had roughly $2,000 in student loans. Oh, and I also got shingles. I don’t suggest this lifestyle to anyone. Here’s what I wish I had known. BUY A PLANNER – AND USE IT RN school is strenuous. Add in other stressors such as a job (or jobs!), a social life, traveling, family life, and studying – there is so much to balance. I would never have made it through those www.advanceweb.com | FOCUS ON EDUCATION | 2018 7