Figuring out how to get into nursing school can be stressful. From choosing a school to completing prerequisites to submitting the application, there is a lot involved in getting into nursing school. You know in your heart that you’d make a great nurse, but how do you get nursing school admissions committees to see that too? What do nursing schools look for in applicants? We’re here to give you a guide for how to make your application stand out so you can increase your chances of getting into nursing school.
Northeastern University’s 16-month hybrid online Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program has led the way in accelerated nursing education. We have worked with countless students over the years, and we’ve found some commonalities between successful nursing school applicants.
We want each of you to succeed, so we’ll cover 11 tips for how to increase your chances of getting into nursing school.
1. Be Confident in Your “Why”
Why do you want to become a nurse? Nursing has so much to offer, from personal satisfaction to community impact to career opportunity. Everyone has a unique motivation for why the profession stood out to them.
Before you apply to nursing school, thoroughly consider your why. Nursing schools are looking for students with passion and motivation, and your ability to articulate your why will help them see the energy you’ll bring to nursing. Students with a strong reason for choosing nursing are more likely to work hard to achieve their goals. Therefore, schools want to see your passion for nursing come to life. Share your why every chance you get — in your admissions interview, personal statement, and admissions video.
2. Choose the Right Program for You
Another way to increase your chances of getting into nursing school is to ensure you choose a program that aligns with your goals. The first thing to consider is what kind of degree you’ll get. Bachelor’s degree programs are ideal for most students because a BSN gives nurses more specialty options, a higher salary, and more growth opportunities compared to an associate degree.
Next consider the quality of the program. It’s important to choose a program with accreditation as well as state approval, like Northeastern’s ABSN program has. This ensures you’ll receive a high-quality education. Next think about format and timing. Do you want a partially online program, like Northeastern’s ABSN, or do you prefer a traditional classroom setting?
How much time do you have? If you’re looking to finish your degree sooner, narrow down to the accelerated programs. For example, Northeastern’s ABSN program lasts 16 months, and you can start at three different times during the year.
By evaluating which programs meet your specific needs, you can focus your attention on those programs. Then you’ll be able to invest your time and resources into creating winning applications for those programs, which will increase your chances of getting into nursing school.
3. Consider Schools Out of State
You’ve maybe never thought about relocating for nursing school, but it’s a good idea to consider. That’s because often you’ll be able to find programs that suit your background and goals better if you branch out and look in other locations.
For example, if your local nursing school only accepts a set number of students once a year, you’ll have a harder time getting accepted, and you may need to wait an entire year before you can begin.
However, instead, say you applied to Northeastern, which accepts far more students because of our two campuses — near Boston, Massachusetts, and Charlotte, North Carolina — each with three cohorts of students a year. In this case, you may have a much higher chance of getting accepted and being able to begin school sooner. Therefore, keep your options open, and definitely consider making a move for nursing school.
Miranda, an ABSN graduate, traveled to our Charlotte campus from her home state of California, finding the accessibility and enrollment capacity of our program to be a huge draw.
4. Choose a Hybrid Online Program
Choosing a program with a hybrid online model is another effective way to increase your chances of getting into nursing school. At Northeastern, accelerated nursing students complete their fundamental coursework online, which means our faculty can teach more students without the need for additional classroom space. We essentially leverage modern technology to bring our nursing education to more students.
Having an online component on top of the clinical portion allows us to offer three start dates a year (January, May, and September) at both of our site locations, meaning our ABSN program can accept more nursing applicants than most schools — all without compromising the quality of education and personal attention a student receives.
Miranda had similar feelings about the program’s online learning component. “I was actually surprised by how much I liked it,” Miranda said. “While instructor deadlines still apply, I think it’s awesome to be able to learn at my own pace. I feel like I’m learning more class-wise in this program than I did showing up to class during my undergraduate.”
5. Meet All Program Requirements
A simple way to increase your chances of getting into nursing school is to check that you qualify for admission before you submit your application. Ensure you are a competent candidate who meets the basic requirements, including:
- GPA requirement
- Prior degree or college credit requirement
- Prerequisite course requirements
- Entrance exam requirement
If you fall short in one or two of these categories, talk with an admissions counselor to see if there’s a way for you to qualify, such as by taking your remaining prerequisites or registering for the entrance exam.
Then, only submit your application once you’re confident you’ve put your best foot forward and met all the requirements for the program.
6. Prepare for Your Admissions Interview
When you begin the admissions process for the ABSN program, you’ll set up a time to talk with an admissions counselor. These meetings are an informal way to talk through your background and eligibility for the program and help you create a plan for any needed prerequisites.
Candidates often ask, what do nursing schools look for in applicants? Well, for one, they look for someone who is organized and dedicated to their goals, and you can demonstrate that by taking a few steps to prepare for your admissions interview.
Making a positive impression on the admissions staff can help you with how to get into nursing school. When your admissions counselor believes you are a great fit for the program, they will help ensure you submit the best application possible.
The admissions counselors at Northeastern are committed to supporting you along the way. As one Charlotte ABSN graduate, Ellen, says:
Here are a few things to plan before your admissions interview:
- Know how to articulate your “why” for nursing.
- Know specifically why you want to go to that school.
- Have your unofficial transcripts ready to reference.
- Have a professional resume.
7. Work or Volunteer with Patients
Though healthcare experience is not required when you apply for nursing school, working hands-on with patients can help you gain valuable perspective. After you’ve worked with patients and seen the impact nurses have on their lives, you’ll be able to articulate more clearly why you feel called to become a nurse.
Whether it’s through volunteering or a paid position, spending some time with patients in a healthcare setting can help you gain personal insight into why nursing is the right career for you. Then talk about your experience with patients in your interview, personal statement, and admissions video.
8. Get Exceptional Recommendation Letters
High-quality recommendation letters are an excellent way to boost the quality of your application and increase your chances of getting into nursing school. At Northeastern, the ABSN program application asks for three recommendation letters.
Choose wisely the people you ask to be references for you. You can choose professors, employers, coaches, community leaders, or other professionals. Go with people who know you well in differing ways, and ask them to share why they think you would make an excellent nurse. Also try to have at least one of your professors write a recommendation letter to give their perspective on your work ethic and aptitude for a rigorous accelerated curriculum.
Once you ask someone for a recommendation, set up a meeting where you can provide them with your resume and transcript. At this meeting, talk through your why for nursing. This will help the writer when it comes time to put their thoughts on paper, and it will show them how committed you are to the process of becoming a nurse.
9. Make a Standout Admissions Video
Some nursing programs, including the ABSN program at Northeastern, require applicants to submit a video during the admissions process. The key to remember with this video is that we do not care about fancy camera tricks and smooth video editing skills. Rather, admissions committees want to see a genuine individual with a passion for nursing.
In your admissions video, be yourself, and explain exactly what this journey toward becoming a nurse means to you. Tell us about what inspires you. Show us who you are and the value you would add to patients’ lives.
10. Write a Well-Crafted Personal Statement
Even if you’re not a writer, put effort into creating an excellent personal statement. Think through exactly what nursing means to you, and share why you’re making the change to nursing. Use stories to help us see you in a more authentic way, and speak from the heart.
Once you have all your thoughts on paper, come back to the draft a few days later and edit it. Then edit it again. After you’ve polished the draft, have a friend or family member read it and offer suggestions. Never underestimate the power of editing when creating an effective personal statement.
11. Apply Early
Many schools, like Northeastern, use a rolling admissions process for their nursing program. At Northeastern, for example, for each of our start dates, we review the earliest applications first. Therefore, if you submit your application early, we’ll still have plenty of spots open when we review it, so you’ll have a higher chance of getting accepted than if you apply the day before the deadline when fewer spots may remain.
Make Nursing Your Reality at Northeastern
If you’re interested in becoming a nurse and starting a career where you can make a difference every day, there’s no better place to begin that Northeastern University.
Our 16-month Accelerated BSN program uses a mix of online classes, skills and simulation labs, and clinical rotations to prepare our students to become practice-ready nurses.
To learn more about how you can accelerate your future at Northeastern, fill out our online form, and our admissions counselors will reach out to you. Now is the time to make your nursing goals come true.