One of the college's in my area has known as what's "automatic acceptance" which means you qualify for the program with a 3.0 AND a minimum score of 24 on your ACT. HOWEVER they have have a limited number of seats therefore, if more applicants apply which meet that condition they use a point ranking system to weed them out, and also if they have seats not taken, they use a point ranking system to determine who gets in.
Although the minimum requirements are a 2.5 and a 19 on the ACT, no one ever gets in if they just have that. I think it gives a lot of people false hope. I know a girl with a 3.8 and a 22 on the ACT that didn't get in, and I had a measly 3.25 and a 26 and got in. I simply have better testing skills, I don't think that I'm any more intelligent than she is, and she has wayyyy better study skills. They also didn't have an entry exam.
I chose a different college, they arguably have the best program in the area, however they also administer an entry exam (TEAS), and since they had more applicants that met their qualifications they accepted six more students than normal. Just by that they won me over, and truly they want their students to succeed, plus it's wayyyy closer to my house, and they offered me a better scholarship. They also tell people flat out that it's competitive. And have an NCLEX pass rate of nearly 100 %, compared to the 80 at the other college. (this is their ranking sheet http://www.pc.edu/shared/content/Pag...ia%20Sheet.pdf
) According their ranking I only had 13 points at the time I had applied, it was really terrifying when I received that sheet and calculated my points!
There's a third newer program in our area, taught by National College, they require an interview, the HESI entrance exam, and a minimum 2.5 GPA. They're private, and also the most expensive. Their NCLEX pass rate was only 33 %, out of the six graduates of the program... They started out with 20 students. I'm not sure if that's normal for a new program, but those odds were just too stacked for me, PLUS their cost was ridiculous. I notified them after much research I was not going to be attending their program either...
Anyhow, the key to anything is research. Do they go by ACT or SAT also? Is there an entrance exam? They're truthfully God sends, if that's so! Is there an essay?
There's so many different ways you can separate yourself! Simply by taking the online practice tests for the ACT, and retaking college algebra, I was able to raise my ACT score significantly (from a 22!). I studied for the TEAS and HESI using the same book, as I thought they were kinda alike, I really think the TEAS was more stressful though. I used Nursing School Entrance Exams by Kaplan.
I asked people I knew who graduated, I went to the newer school's website and they had the names posted of their first graduating class, and I found someone that I had graduated highschool with was among them (very intelligent girl). I added her to facebook, and her story horrified me. Two years of school and unable to pass the NCLEX... And they didn't offer her any prep work for the exam. She had to purchase her own review (My school REQUIRES you take a review, have instructor's help you review and prep). Then, I checked the pass rates from the last couple of years on the state board's website.
THEN, I asked people I knew that had went to the college I really wanted to go to and graduated.
Then, between the two major runners I found out my financial aid offers, I talked to the staff, I really ran my feet off. But most of the people you talk to want you to succeed, because your success is based from theirs.
To say I was crazy about attending school is an understatement, I'm absolutely loony for it. A lot of it takes very little time to do, maybe a few phone calls, some facebook chat, but the testing and visits take time and money, the prep work, the exams, the pre-reqs! DEADLINES! Upon DEADLINES!
But I really want it, and making the right choice is always ALWAYS the biggest decision. You could go to any school, stay for two years, and then end up with nothing, because you can't pass the NCLEX. Or, you could go to a program with teachers that don't care about your success and fail out. Or, what's worse you could start a program, do really well but have to leave because of expenses.
You have to take in everything when you attend. Maybe the BSN program is just pumping out nurses that can pass the NCLEX, but can't do much anything else. Also something you don't want! For sure.
But, honestly, if you educate yourself on how the ranking system really works, talk to someone that got in the program in the last few years AND graduated and compare your potential success to their actual success you don't need to worry. Be on par. Also, if an essay is required get a professor to read it prior to submittable, nothing is worse than someone handing a paper in riddled with errors, if not a professor someone with really good wordsmithing skillz.
It's all about accountability, holding yourself responsible. Last year when I first embarked upon all this, I looked at the ranking sheet I was handed and said, "I'm not ready now, and this is my fault. But I can fix it, and I will." And I did.
I'm in now, but what the future holds is completely a mystery, I hope it's success, I had a taste, but I want the whole cup!