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Five Tips for Applying to Nursing Schools

What's the best way to tackle all of the entrance exams, prerequisite nursing courses, transcripts, and recommendations? Take a deep breath and get organized. A few simple steps can help you get prepared -- and help your application stand out.

1. Finish Prerequisite Nursing Courses Ahead Of Time

Most nursing programs look for applicants with a high school diploma, including two to four years of math and science (such as biology, algebra and psychology), four years of English and one to two years of health studies.

Specific college level prerequisites depend on the school and type of program to which you are applying. It’s a good idea to contact the nursing schools you're interested in to learn about their requirement, and then work with a school or career guidance counselor to map out a coursework plan. And of course, keep that GPA up.

2. Get RN Career Experience

Nursing programs are usually happy to see that you've volunteered at a hospital, worked in a doctor's office, or completed your CPR certification. High school students interested in RN careers can even apply to nursing camps.

3. Compare Nursing Schools to Find the Best Fit

Look for nursing schools that fit your needs. Are you interested in online nursing degree programs or campus programs? Are night classes more convenient for you? Consult online school reviews and don't waste time on schools that don't make sense for you.

4. Avoid the Waiting List

Focusing on nursing programs without waiting lists is one way to avoid overcrowded applicant pools and increase your chances of getting in. Contact nursing schools to see if there's a wait.

5. Get Organized and Apply Early

Keep an organized list of each school's application requirements. It can take several weeks or more to get official transcripts sent and recommendation letter writers usually need a few weeks notice, so don't wait until the last minute. If there's one thing nursing programs won't be impressed with, it's a disorganized or incomplete application.

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