10 Tips for Getting into Nursing School

two Madonna ABSN students smiling

The best tips for getting into nursing school include: finding the right program, knowing your why, keeping an open channel of communication with your admissions counselor, preparing for entrance exams, keeping track of required documents, and starting early. Volunteer experience and a well-written essay can also help you stand out.

7 min read

If you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution or a minimum of 60 college credits. from a regionally accredited university, you can become a nurse in as few as 16 months. You just need to get in and complete your support courses if required. The Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program at Madonna University is committed to helping qualified students achieve their goal of becoming a nurse. Here are 10 tips for getting into nursing school to guide you on the crucial first steps of your journey.

1. Know Your Why

The importance of this step cannot be understated. After all, being able to explain why you want to be a nurse will be helpful when you talk to an admission officer. Not to mention, you’re going to want to be thinking about your reason well in advance of writing your letter of intent or admissions essay … more on that later.

2. Find the Right Program

Of critical importance to getting into nursing school is selecting a program that works for your needs. Here are several things you’ll want to consider:

Where do you want to study?

Asking this question first will help you to narrow your selection to a specific region, and it will also help you to estimate cost of living and other expenses (in the case of relocating for school).

three Madonna ABSN students using laptop computers

What kind of degree do you intend to get?

While many nursing programs still offer associate degrees in nursing, the overall trend in healthcare is toward Bachelor of Science in Nursing-educated RNs. In other words, a BSN is a much better choice long term.

Madonna ABSN student sitting at desk working on computer

Learn more about what an accelerated BSN program is and whether you’re an ideal candidate.

Is online learning for you?

Hybrid Online learning certainly has many advantages. In particular, it offers convenience and accessibility that differs from the traditional in-classroom learning. It’s also important to note that accelerated nursing program theory course work is 100% online with testing on campus in the testing center Students will learn critical nursing skills in our hands-on skills lab and simulations rooms, as well as through clinical rotations. That being said, some learners would prefer to learn everything in a classroom setting; just know that this will likely mean a traditional, four-year BSN program.

How to become a nurse online.

Want to learn more about studying nursing online? See how online courses work at Madonna University.

3. Talk to Your Admission Officer

Of course, once you find a program you’re interested in, you’re going to want to talk to an admission officer. During your first call, your admission officer will ask you questions get to know you better, including about your educational background and, you guessed it, why you want to become a nurse. Prior to your call, it’s a good idea to have at least your unofficial college transcripts available, though your admission officer will be able to talk you through the steps for obtaining your transcript if you don’t have it on hand.

Of critical importance is that you are honest and upfront about any issues that might become a problem later. For example, if you were previously enrolled in a nursing program, let a grade slip, or have any issues with your background history, you need to let your admission officer know. As part of the enrollment process, your post-high school education records and complete background history will be pulled, so it’s better to be upfront about any potential issues.

Please be receptive to the admission officer if they recommend you retake a past class to improve your chances of getting in, it’s because they want to see you succeed.

How much college experience do you currently have, and what are your grades like?

Talking with your admission officer can help you determine your eligibility for the program. If you already have a bachelor’s degree or at least college credits (number varies by school) and meet the grade requirements set by the school, you may be eligible to enroll in an accelerated BSN (ABSN) program, like ours.

When do you hope to graduate?

Another advantage of ABSN programs is that they allow you to graduate sooner and often offer three start dates each year. The [email protected] program offers three start dates in summer, fall, and winter, meaning it may be possible to start working toward your nursing degree sooner. Staying in touch with your admission officer can help you stay on track to enroll for your target start date in the program.

Madonna ABSN students in simulation lab

4. Prioritize Communication

Want to impress your admission officer throughout the admissions process? Keep detailed notes about everything you’ve talked about and what you need to do, and make sure to follow through. While your admission officer may check in with you regularly to ensure you’re progressing through the process, it looks good if you’re proactive. Another simple way to show you’re serious about becoming a nurse is to stay on top of communication. Don’t put off responding to calls and emails. The sooner, the better.

step one: the admission process

Interested in learning more about what you need to know before starting nursing school?

Do you intend to work while in nursing school?

This is something you’ll want to discuss with your admission officer. While understandable that some students will need to work during nursing school, accelerated programs pack a lot into a short period, meaning school can feel like a full-time job. Because of this, Madonna University recommends that students do not work while in the ABSN program.

5. Get Volunteer Experience

While no previous healthcare experience is necessary to apply to the Madonna ABSN program, gaining experience in a healthcare facility as a volunteer is a great way to make yourself stand out and show that you are really serious about a future in nursing.

6. Fulfill Any Prerequisite Requirements

Just about any quality accelerated nursing program is going to require you to complete prerequisite courses, though how many depends on your previous college experience. Those with a Bachelor of Science degree tend to need fewer prerequisites than those with Bachelor of Arts degrees — that’s because nursing requires some knowledge of anatomy, biology, chemistry, and other related fields. Additionally, students with only the minimum number of college credits required will need to take the most prerequisites to get into nursing school.

However, many schools also require prospective nursing students to take courses specific to their school and mission statement, and Madonna is no exception. Your admission officer will guide you through the process of determining what you need to take. In some cases, he or she might advise you on ways to improve your GPA by retaking certain courses to increase your chances of being accepted.

Madonna ABSN student studying at table

7. Write a Great Essay

For many reasons, nursing is not for everyone, and while it may pay well, it’s not the kind of career you pursue just for the money. Nursing requires compassion, the ability to remain calm and collected in life-threatening situations, empathy, kindness, strong communication skills, and hard work.

Your letter of intent or admissions essay should demonstrate not only why you want to become a nurse but also that you have what it takes to succeed in nursing school. Think of it sort of like a cover letter as part of applying for a job, and don’t forget to have someone read it over for you before you submit it. No matter how many times you read it, it’s easy to miss your own mistakes.

8. Keep Documents Handy

Help streamline the process and present yourself as an organized and serious contender by making sure you’ve gathered all the required documents. Having these materials handy will show the school that you are prepared and can easily follow directions. The less you have to scramble to provide items needed for application, the sooner you can be on your way to starting your nursing education.

9. Prepare for Any Entrance Exams

As part of the process of getting into nursing school, many schools require students to take an entrance exam, often the Health Education Systems, Inc. (HESI) Admission Exam or Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) Exam.

Madonna ABSN student studying textbook

To be eligible for Madonna University’s ABSN program, prospective students must achieve a composite score of 75 or higher for reading comprehension and math on the HESI Admission Exam. Additionally, if you do not already hold a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, Madonna requires you to take a writing assessment.

10. Start Today

The best way to increase your chances of getting into nursing school is to start the process right now! Don’t wait to pursue your dream of becoming a nurse any longer. The sooner you complete the form and get the ball rolling, the closer you are to becoming a working nurse and changing lives.

Change Lives in as Few as 16 Months

Ready to put your dream of becoming a registered nurse into action? With the [email protected] program, if you have a minimum of 60 college credits from a regionally accredited university, you can become a nurse in as few as 16 months. Give Madonna University a call today to find out more, or fill out the form to have an admission officer contact you.

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