Applying to Nursing School: What Is It Like?

NursingMay 13, 2014

Applying to nursing school is like applying to other professional schools, such as medical school and law school, and it can be stressful. Here is a rundown of the process so you know what to expect; however, school processes can differ, so check with a counselor to see exactly what you need.

Prerequisite Classes

Before you can begin any nursing program, you will need a knowledge base, which comes through taking classes. Expect to take courses in anatomy, psychology, general math, microbiology, chemistry and more. Each program will have different requirements before you begin the nursing program, so check which ones you will need. It's possible that you may have already taken courses that fulfill a prerequisite, such as a higher level math or alternate psychology class. Have a counselor look at any previous college courses you may have taken to see if you can save some time.

Also, nursing schools are competitive, so your grades in these prerequisite courses are really important. Your GPA is one of the things that is considered during the admissions process, so aim for the highest grades possible.

Admission Test

The HESI, NET and TEAS: These are all admission tests that your nursing program may require. Each one of the tests requires a fee and covers different material. It may help to get a practice book to help you and study for whichever program you choose. A high exam score can increase your chances of being accepted into the nursing program. Additionally, some schools may let you retake a test and will accept your best score — but some may not.

Letter of Recommendation

Some programs may require a letter of recommendation or a personal statement to complete your application. Be sure to request letters from people that know you professionally or academically and who are able to complete the letter long before the deadline for applications.

Whatever your personal statement asks for, make sure you answer the prompt thoroughly and to the point. Follow instructions carefully and have it edited by trusted friends or colleagues.

Other Tests and Identification

Once you have completed all of the above — and get accepted into a program — other information needs to be submitted. You will need to be completely up to date on your immunizations, or else have proof of immunity. A background check and fingerprint clearance will need to be completed to verify that you are able to work in healthcare (a criminal record may prevent you from taking the licensing exam or working as a nurse.) Finally, an approved CPR certification must be obtained before classes begin.

Additional Tips

  • Make a plan with the help of a school counselor. They can help you to decide which classes you need to take, what order to take them in, when the entrance exams begin and every other question about applying that you have.
  • Ensure that all parts of your application are turned in on time or early.
  • Turn in a complete and organized application. Missing one simple thing can exempt you from consideration.

Applying to nursing school is not accomplished overnight, but it is an essential step to becoming a nurse. Use all the help and support you can get, and keep your eyes on the prize.

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