The reputation and acceptance rate of a nursing school will influence your chances of getting in, but there are additional factors in play when it comes to getting into nursing school. Registered Nurses are in significant demand, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and nursing programs are getting more competitive, in order to allow the best candidates entrance.
Not only does the U.S. Department of Labor estimates the need for over 500,000 new nurses in the next decade, but the attractive wages offered by the nursing profession have made nursing school a consideration for many future college students.
With the considerable need for new nurses, you might assume that getting into nursing school would be easy, but the fact remains that nursing programs remain selective. Here are some of the factors you may need to consider when applying to nursing school.
Community Colleges Don't Offer "Automatic" Entry
Many community colleges offer "open enrollment," which means they accept all applicants as long as they have the right prerequisites. Remaining enrolled requires adhering to the community college's basic standards, such as maintaining a minimum GPA. However, attending community college doesn't automatically mean you'll get accepted into the nursing program, too.
Many students choose community college and an associate's degree as their training to become an RN because it may only take a few years of study; however, this popularity means that programs receive many applications. Therefore, it's important to treat your associate's degree nursing school application as seriously as you might if you were applying to a four year university.
Students Must Dedicate Time to Learning Nursing
There are some nursing programs that provide alternative scheduling options for students, but even these programs require dedication and a significant time commitment from their future nurses. To have the best chance of passing the NCLEX-RN examination, you must put nursing first in your life during your studies.
Your nursing school application must demonstrate your ability to dedicate your life to nursing study, rather than the job you may need to maintain while you're in school.
When you apply to nursing school, your application may be one of hundreds if you're applying to a particularly competitive program. Making your application stand out from the rest of the pile can make a difference in your chances of acceptance.
For example, a history of volunteer work in a healthcare setting is a valuable addition to your nursing school application.
Prepare for Nursing School Waiting Lists
Competitive nursing schools often have waiting lists, meaning that even if you are accepted, you may have to wait before you begin nursing courses. It's important to prepare yourself for the possibility of your school placing you on a waiting list.
Getting on a waiting list does mean you'll have to wait to begin your nursing studies, but it doesn't mean you have to wait to begin your college experience. An associate's degree and a bachelor's degree will require that you complete classes in other areas like language, social sciences, and math. While you wait for entry to your nursing school, you can take care of those core classes for your degree.
Throw a Wide Net When Applying to Nursing School
It's not uncommon to have a "dream" school, but virtually every future nurse should apply to more than one college, just in case. Even if you have all the right prerequisites, a high GPA, and volunteer experience for your application, there's a significant chance another applicant is just as qualified.
If your circumstances allow, consider applying to a handful of nursing schools, just in case your first pick doesn't accept you. No one wants to experience rejection, but the competitive nature of nursing programs means it's essential to be prepared for that possibility.
It's a lot of work to get into a good nursing program, but the work you do to get accepted to nursing school can be the first step toward a rewarding future career as a nurse.
Get started by requesting information from the nursing schools on our site to learn more about your options for study.