9 Questions to Ask When Choosing the Right Nursing School

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Outdoor photo of school campus

When it comes to choosing the right nursing school for you, you may spend hours researching which is the best accelerated nursing program in your area. No two programs are exactly alike, so how do you start comparing one to another?

Northeastern University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program offers students a nursing education in as few as 16 months. We offer three start dates each year for the hybrid online nursing curriculum, where students learn through a combination of online classes, skills and simulation labs, and clinical rotations.

When choosing the right nursing school, you should ask these nine questions to help you decide. We’ll walk through each of these questions and why they’re important for choosing the right nursing school.

1. Is the Program Accredited?

When deciding on a nursing school, it’s important to ensure you’re focusing on programs that have met nursing education standards. That comes in the form of accreditation and state approval. Accreditation comes from larger regulatory bodies that ensure universities and nursing programs are meeting the standards for quality and safety. Make sure you choose an accredited nursing program, as this confirms your eligibility for receiving your nursing license and allows you to go back to school for an advanced nursing degree, if desired.

CCNE accreditation logo

Next, look at whether the nursing program has state approval. This is run by each state’s board of nursing to ensure the school meets the state’s nursing standards. Choose a state-approved nursing program so you confirm you can receive your RN license from the state.

Rest assured the accelerated nursing program at Northeastern is both accredited and state approved. The university is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), and baccalaureate degree program in nursing at Northeastern University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Northeastern’s ABSN program has state approval from both the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing and the North Carolina Board of Nursing.

2. How Long Will It Take to Get My Degree?

The length of time you’re in school depends on whether you choose an accelerated or traditional nursing program. Traditional nursing programs are for students without prior college experience, and they take four years to complete.

On the other hand, accelerated nursing programs like Northeastern’s ABSN have a condensed, nursing-specific curriculum, taking between 12 and 20 months to complete. Northeastern’s accelerated nursing program is 16 months long and has an above-average number of credit hours at 67.

Attending accelerated nursing school is a full-time commitment. Because of the rigorous demands of the program, successful students generally choose to focus on school rather than trying to balance school with a job.

3. How Soon Can I Begin?

When making a career change to nursing, you likely want to be as efficient with your time as possible. One way to save time is by choosing a nursing program that doesn’t have a waitlist. After all, waiting a year or more just to start nursing school is not ideal.

You can also pay attention to the number of annual starts the school offers. If you want to gain acceptance to a nursing program that starts students once per year, you have a good chance of getting stuck on a waitlist.

However, if you choose a nursing program with multiple start dates each year, you’ll have a higher likelihood of acceptance. Plus, you may be able to start the ABSN program shortly after finishing your prerequisites, rather than having to wait a whole year to begin. Northeastern University’s accelerated BSN program offers three starts per year, and we have rolling admissions, so you can benefit from a faster transition to your nursing career.

Two Northeastern ABSN students with a maternity simulation manikin

4. What’s the Application Process?

The admissions process for nursing schools can be complicated and challenging to navigate. Each school has different requirements and a different application timeline, so choosing a school that offers quality admissions support can make the process much easier. Northeastern is committed to making the admissions process as smooth as possible for our prospective students, and that’s where our admissions counselors come in.

The first step for you to complete if you’re considering Northeastern for nursing school is to reach out to our admissions counselors through our online form. They’ll then schedule a time to talk with you over the phone.

In that call, they’ll help you figure out your eligibility and which prerequisites you need to complete before starting school. They’ll also answer any questions you have. The best part, though, is that you will be assigned a specific admissions counselor, and that person will regularly check in with you, remind you of deadlines, and help you submit the most competitive application possible.

The admissions counselors and nursing faculty at Northeastern are here to help you and support you along your journey to achieving your goal of becoming a nurse. Choosing a nursing school that cares this much about their prospective and current students will give you the best chance of success.

5. What Are the Program’s Eligibility Requirements?

When choosing the right nursing school, you’ll need to be aware of what the application requirements are. Knowing if you qualify will determine early on if the ABSN program is right for you.

Most accelerated BSN programs require a prior bachelor’s degree so that most core and liberal arts classes are already completed. At Northeastern, however, students with at least 62 non-nursing college credits may apply to the Northeastern ABSN site in Charlotte, North Carolina. If you do have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, you can apply to either the ABSN Program Site in Burlington or the Charlotte ABSN Nursing Center.

Northeastern University ABSN student using computer

In addition to the college experience needed to apply, you’ll also need to have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. There are also eight ABSN prerequisites accelerated nursing students must complete (with a minimum grade of C) before entry into the program:

  1. Microbiology (with lab)
  2. Human Anatomy & Physiology I (with lab)
  3. Human Anatomy & Physiology II (with lab)
  4. Introduction to Chemistry (with lab)
  5. Statistics
  6. Social/Behavioral Sciences
  7. Development Psychology
  8. Nutrition

6. Does the Program Offer Online Learning?

For those looking for an accelerated BSN program in Massachusetts or North Carolina, you have the option of either an online-based ABSN program or an on-ground program. Either education track should provide you with hands-on, in-hospital training and experience. The main difference will be how didactic, or lecture, coursework is completed.

Northeastern University’s online Accelerated BSN program utilizes online learning modules for lectures and activities for all didactic coursework. In addition, students use the online learning platform to submit assignments, complete interactive assignments, and engage in discussion with faculty, classmates, and groups of peers.

Learning online or on-ground is somewhat of personal preference criteria. However, online learning offers several benefits for accelerated nursing students, the first being they don’t need to sit in class for hours a day. Rather, they can choose the time and place where they study, so it is more adaptable.

Another advantage of online learning is students can tailor their learning to the style that works best for them, such as by using visual, auditory, or problem-based learning techniques. Finally, online learning allows more time for students to study in groups. ABSN students often use peer studying because it’s an effective way to collaborate and hold each other accountable.

If an online-based nursing program appeals to you, choose an ABSN program that offers this option.

7. What Does the Program Cost?

Money is not always an easy topic to discuss, but it’s nonetheless an important criterion to pay attention to. Choose a nursing program you can afford as well as one that will give you a good education. Neither the cheapest nor the most expensive is automatically the best.

If you have questions about financing your nursing school education, reach out to our admissions counselors, who will help you navigate your financial aid options.

Remember that nursing school investment in your education that will pay off by providing you with a career that offers a competitive salary and significant growth opportunities.

8. Where Is the Program Located?

The location of a nursing program matters. Not only does living in a nice city mean you’ll enjoy your time off by having great shows and restaurants to visit, but the ABSN site location can also help your education. That’s because when ABSN programs are located in communities where healthcare is a major focus, you’ll get to experience clinical rotations with top-quality professionals.

For example, Northeastern is connected with highly respected clinical partners both in the Boston and Charlotte areas. That means you’ll be learning from leaders in the nursing field. You’ll also make valuable connections with people who may be able to help you when it comes time to find a nursing job after graduation.

9. What Are the NCLEX Pass Rates?

The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) is a licensure exam every nursing graduate must take in order to become an RN. The 2022 national average for students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree of 85.59%. How your school of choice compares to this average is a very good indicator of the nursing education quality.

The state of Massachusetts reports a 91% first-time pass rate in 2021 for Northeastern’s accelerated nursing students at Northeastern. At the Charlotte location, our students earned a 2021 first-time NCLEX pass rate of 88.89%. Northeastern students consistently perform above the national average on the NCLEX, which shows the emphasis we place on excellent nursing education.

Start Your Nursing School Journey

Think through each of these nine questions and which are most important to you, and use them when choosing the right nursing school. Some may find NCLEX pass rates to be the most important criteria, while for others it may be the program’s requirements and prerequisites.

Northeastern is a great school and a great program

Northeastern is committed to ensuring our students feel confident in their decision to attend the ABSN program. Choosing the right nursing school is a personal choice, and we’re here to help you every step of the way. Your future is on the line, so give yourself the best education you can. Nurses save lives, and it’s a career you need to be well-prepared for.

For more information on Northeastern University’s 16-month, online-based accelerated nursing program, fill out our online form or call 866.892.3819 to speak with someone right away.

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