American Assoc of Colleges in Nursing---Most Nursing Schools in USA are particpating members with schools listed by state.
US News + World Report- 2002 ranking of Graduate Nursing programs
Link to State Boards of Nursing: Check your states web site -some states have listing of nursing schools and indicate if it has full or provisional status.
Consider the range of programs it offers at the undergraduate level---which will fit in with your family life??
Examples of Programs of Study:
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
Full-time day Program
Part-time evening Program
For already licensed nurses:
RN / BSN Program
RN / BSN / MSN Accelerated Program
You don't choose area to work in until last semester of college. You are exposed to so many practice areas as a student and often will find one that just "clicks" ...that you want to work in.
Unless you are planning to teach nursing, employers only care that you have graduated from an approved nursing program and are qualifed to sit for the the NCLEX exam or are an RN with license in good standing. Check out the FEEL of the campus and talk to students in the program you are interested in. Ask your family health care practioner's nursing staff re good schools of nursing in your area.
Who actually teaches the course: the professor or a teaching assistant? What is the ratio of faculty to student in the clinical setting: very important (best is 1 to 8 or less)? All schools have financial aid departments to assist you: some programs with federal monies if willing to work in an underserved health area. Employers even willing pay partial tuition these days due to the shortage in exchange for work committment--don't let it be more than 18 months.
The Masters program I chose is not nationally ranked. It is well known locally, has professors that are active in ANA and professional nursing associations, has a degree program I'm interested in and is only 5 minutes from my home....a big plus since I work FT, have kids and extended family. I took one course to get the feel of the school and was encouraged to take another, now I'm matricualted.
BEST ADVICE: Get the highest grades you can in high school, participate in at least one school activity and visit each nursing school BEFORE applying. Relax and enjoy the remander of this special year. Good luck.