Nursing demand in the U.S. is expected to grow over the coming decade, making it no surprise why many people (including you!) want to enter the profession. As you might expect, that means many people are applying to nursing school. This may leave you to wonder how you can set yourself apart in a crowded field of applicants.
With some strategic planning, it’s possible to get into a reputable program such as the Notre Dame of Maryland University Accelerated 2nd Degree Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN). Below we share seven pieces of advice for getting into nursing school.
1. Consider what you want from a nursing program
Before you start comparing nursing schools, it’s important to determine what you want out of a program and how it works for your current needs and future career aspirations. Many educational paths exist for those who want to become a nurse, but knowing what you want out of a program can help you streamline your search and make your transition into the profession that much less overwhelming.
Start your nursing school search by asking yourself these questions:
- What kind of nurse do you want to be? If you want to become a registered nurse (RN) — one who administers medication and manages and creates patient treatment plans — earning either an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) or bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) can get you into that role (although the trend in health care sways more toward hiring BSN-educated RNs). Licensed practical nurses (LPNs), who work solely to provide basic nursing care, can enter the profession after completing an accredited practical nursing program.
- How much college experience do you have? Bachelor’s degree holders who meet a school’s grade requirements may be eligible to enroll in an accelerated BSN (ABSN) program such as the one NDMU offers in the Baltimore area.
- When do you plan to graduate? If your plan is to become a nurse as soon as possible, an ABSN program may be your best bet. You can complete the Notre Dame ABSN program in as few as 15 months and choose from three start dates through our Hybrid Accelerated 2nd Degree BSN program and one start each year through our on-campus Accelerated 2nd Degree BSN.
- Is online learning a good fit for you? If you thrive in a more flexible learning environment, an online-based nursing program could be a great fit for you. While these types of programs don’t happen 100-percent online (skills and simulation labs through our Hybrid ABSN program take place at our off-campus program site, for example, with clinical rotations occurring at top health care facilities around Baltimore), they’re a convenient option for many adult learners. However, some students learn better in a classroom setting. If that’s the case for you, the Notre Dame on-campus ABSN program may suit your preferences better.
2. Reach out to an enrollment manager
You can do all the online research you want, but actually talking with someone with insider knowledge about a program you’re interested in is the best way to determine if it’s a match for you practically, academically, and professionally. That’s why once you identify the best type of nursing program for you, your next step should be speaking with an enrollment manager.
In fact, it’s the first step in the Notre Dame ABSN admissions process for this very reason! Our program has a dedicated team of enrollment managers who work exclusively with prospective ABSN students. On your first call with your assigned enrollment manager, you’ll be asked a series of guided questions to find out if you’re a match for our program.
3. Review admission requirements
The best way to know for sure if you meet the admission requirements for the nursing school you’re considering is to speak with someone at the university who can verify that you do—or if you have some work to do. For the Notre Dame ABSN program, this person is your assigned enrollment manager. As part of determining your compatibility with our program, he or she will review your academic background (to be eligible for our ABSN program, you must have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree) and, if needed, offer guidance on the best route for you to fulfill any outstanding ABSN program requirements you may need to complete. This generally (but not always) involves completing prerequisite courses within our specified grade requirements, another vital step we’ll cover below.
4. Be honest about your academic background
As mentioned earlier, the primary goal of speaking with an enrollment manager is to see if you’re a good fit for our program, part of which involves learning more about your educational background. Having your unofficial college transcripts handy for this conversation is ideal, but don’t worry if you don’t have them on-hand — he or she can talk you through how to obtain them.
You’ll certainly want to present your best self to your enrollment manager, but it also behooves you to tell the truth about any issues that may hinder your eligibility for nursing school sooner rather than later. Whether you let a grade slip or have marks on your background, it’s important to disclose any potentially disparaging information upfront. Besides, your enrollment manager may also be able to offer advice on improving your chances of acceptance into our program — after all, their ultimate goal is to see you succeed.
5. Stay organized
Getting into nursing school requires a lot of moving parts. Half the battle in achieving this goal is staying on top of them all! Clerical tasks like obtaining official college transcripts, enrolling in any necessary prerequisite courses, completing paperwork, asking for recommendations as well as submitting your application and all other relevant materials on time requires a certain level of organization. Lucky for you, in the Notre Dame ABSN admissions process you’ll have your enrollment manager to hold you to task from your initial call all the way through your acceptance in the program.
6. Do well on prerequisite courses
Most nursing schools require you to take a certain set of prerequisites to qualify for admission into their program, and for good reason. These courses set the educational foundation for what you’ll learn in nursing school, so you’ll be doing yourself a favor by taking them seriously.
For the Notre Dame ABSN program, you must pass the following prerequisite courses with a grade of C or higher, successfully completing the science courses within five years prior to enrollment:
- Survey of General, Organic & Biochemistry
- Anatomy & Physiology I + II
- Basic Statistics
If you’re not sure which courses you may have left to take before you apply to our program, rest assured your enrollment manager can help you make this determination based on your unique academic background.
7. Submit a polished personal statement and resume
Part of the Notre Dame ABSN admissions process involves submitting a personal statement and resume with your application. Because other applicants to our program likely have similar academic qualifications as you, these pieces of your application can be a great avenue for you to stand out from the crowd.
Focus your personal statement on why you want to become a nurse and how you believe our ABSN program can help you achieve that goal. Whatever your reason, it’s important to speak from the heart. Did a family member or friend’s experience with a nurse inspire your desired transition to the field? Do you want to enhance the health and well-being of others? Or, if your GPA is lower than our accepted requirement, this space can also serve to explain why and emphasize your commitment to achieving success in our program.
Your future as a nurse awaits!
What are you waiting for? Now that you know how to up your odds of getting into nursing school, there’s no reason to wait to pursue your career transition to nursing. With the Notre Dame ABSN program, you can earn your BSN in as few as 15 months!
Ready to learn more about getting into our nursing school? Reach out to an enrollment manager today!