Your dream is to become a nurse and the only thing that stands between you and that goal is acceptance into a nursing program.
But the nursing school application process is a competitive one. According to data collected by the National League for Nursing, only 41% of BSN applicants were accepted in 2012. Of those not accepted, 23% were qualified, but still didn’t make the cut.
Why so tough?
One reason is there simply isn’t enough capacity. Nursing programs have difficulty expanding capacity, namely due to lack of clinical placements and lack of faculty.
What are the students who were turned away missing? What is it that the admissions faculty looks for?
Michelle Meiser, director of admissions at the Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences, shares her insider tips on how to get your nursing school application to rise up from that tall stack of applications.
1. Get excellent grades
Meiser says excellent math and science grades, with an SAT score > 1000 will set you apart and put you in good standing. The more science and math courses you’ve taken, the better off you’ll be. The admissions staff are looking for a high school diploma or GED (you may be nearing completion of that during the application process), with at least one biology course, one science with a lab course, two algebra units and four English units. PA College does take transfer credits, but prefers that foundational courses are taken at the college itself.
2. Show extracurricular involvement
Participation in athletics, student government, other clubs and activities shows motivation, a commitment to personal growth and leadership potential.
3. Have volunteer experience
Volunteering — particularly in areas related to the hospital or healthcare setting — shows that you’ve done some research on nursing and know experientially that nursing will be a good fit for you. Meiser strongly encourages the prospective applicant to use this in your application essay when explaining why you want to be a nurse. She recommends volunteering in different areas of the hospital to broaden your knowledge of various specialties and to learn from as many nurses as you can. If a student finds nursing isn’t a good fit, he or she might find something else in the healthcare setting that is.
If you don’t get accepted
Talk with the admissions department to find out what prevented your application acceptance. This can help you come up with a plan of action to put you in a better position for acceptance if you decide to apply again. If grades in the maths and sciences are an issue, Meiser suggests taking a class at a community college to improve your grade (aiming for B or higher).
Good luck, students — the nursing profession needs you!