9 Tips to Increase Your Chances of Getting into Nursing School

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ABSN student writing down notes at desk

Nursing demand in the U.S. is expected to grow over the coming decade, making it no surprise many people 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 increase chances of getting into nursing school and 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 nine pieces of advice to increase chances of getting into nursing school.

1. Consolidate Your List of Nursing Programs

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 but knowing what you want out of a program can help you streamline your search and make your transition into the profession much less overwhelming.

Nursing student sitting at desk working on computer

Start your nursing school search by asking yourself these questions:

  • What kind of nurse do you want to be? If you want to become an RN with autonomy in the workplace, career advancement opportunities, and higher earning potential, obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Nursing is the way to go.
  • 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.
  • How soon do you want 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.
  • Is online learning a good fit for you? If you thrive in a more flexible learning environment, an online-based nursing program could be perfect for you. While these programs require in-person attendance for labs, exams, and clinicals, they’re a convenient option for many adult learners. However, some students learn better in a classroom setting, which we provide through our on-campus ABSN program.

2. Reach Out to an Enrollment Manager

You can, and should, do your own research, but actually talking to someone with insider knowledge about a program 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.

two people meeting at table with laptop

In fact, it’s the first step in the Notre Dame ABSN admissions process for this 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.

To make sure this call goes smoothly, be sure to prepare yourself by doing a little extra research on your school and program. Doing this can help you make a good first impression and will prove that you are genuinely interested in the program and in becoming a nurse. Additionally, having a list of questions you want to ask ready to go for the call can help you jog your memory in case you get a little nervous and scatterbrained.

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. Depending on your previous educational experience, this generally involves completing prerequisite courses within our specified grade requirements, another vital step we’ll cover below.

4. Be Honest

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 — your enrollment manager can talk you through how to obtain them.

You’ll certainly want to present your best self, 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.

ABSN student standing in hallway

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
  • Microbiology
  • Anatomy & Physiology I + II
  • Basic Statistics
  • Ethics

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 explain why and emphasize your commitment to achieving success in our program.

8. Ask for Letters of Recommendation

Another very important component of your application will be your letters of recommendation. Requirements may vary based on your program of interest; however, you will generally need two or three letters of recommendation. Make sure that the individuals that you are asking know you personally so that they can really personalize their letter. Additionally, you must be sure to ask for these letters way in advance. Not only is this common courtesy for the busy individuals that you are asking, but it also assures you that you’ll have plenty of time to collect them before turning in your application.

While you should be asking ahead of time, don’t be afraid to send follow up messages to remind people of approaching deadlines. It may be a good idea to have a few back up people in mind just in case one of your original letter-writers becomes unable to complete the letter.

9. Gain Experience in Healthcare

While this usually is not required, especially for ABSN programs as these are generally designed to accommodate career-changers, it will only help increase chances of getting into nursing school if you have experience in healthcare. While this can be a job, such as working as a CNA, it could also be as simple as occasionally volunteering with a healthcare organization.

NDMU student in blue scrubs working on manikin

When the admissions team for a school sees that you have nursing-related experience, it further proves to them that you are passionate about nursing, and you know what you are getting yourself into. It also shows that you have a strong sense of compassion and enjoy giving back to your community, which are qualities that make up a good nurse. Also, having this experience can be a great thing to draw from while speaking to admissions staff or during interviews.

Your Future as a Nurse Awaits!

What are you waiting for? Now that you know how to increase chances 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!