This is going to be a little bit long so please hang with me...
Looking into your survey components, I can't help but conclude that the answers you might get may not yield the right school you're looking for.
Here are the reasons why: 1. NCLEX Passing Rate
- A (1) year NCLEX pass rate will NOT yield a true performance metric. New schools' pass rates swing quite a bit during the first 2-3 years of operation. As such, a high pass rate on year 1 may not necessarily be true for year 2 -- and vice versa.
A better metric (in my opinion) is to look for consistency (not necessarily high scores). If a school consistently scores above 80% for 2-3 years while it steadily increases enrollment (look for the "completed" column from the NCLEX pass rate in one of my posts), then it's probably safe to say that they have a pretty good process in place in helping the student pass the NCLEX -- and as such, should be graded highly. 2. Deposit Requirement
-- Are you looking for who has the most affordable program to start a program? Some schools charge by Semester (which can include 3 or more classes) and some charge by course. Naturally, a school that charges by course will most certainly have a lower deposit requirement.
Also, some schools charge a small fee to enter, but they hit you with bigger fees as you progress into each course component.
A better metric to gauge affordability (again, in my opinon) is to break-down your cost to "Dollars per contact hour." You can do this by dividing the total tuition by the number of total contact hours. For example: If X school's overall tuition is $20,000 and their program's Total contact hours is 900, your tuition rate PER contact hour would be $22.22 (20000/900).
Do this computation to all your candidate schools and you'll derive which one is the most affordable (barring all of their tuition components are the same).
On average, an LPN school will charge between 25% - 50% down per course or per semester. You can then take your Per-Contact hour number ($22.22), multiply it by the number of contact-hours per course (say 75 contact hrs for Basic Nursing1) or per semester, and take 25% or 50% of that to derive your 'Deposit Requirement' per candidate school. For the example above, ($22.22 x 75contacts) / 50% wil equal $833.25 downpayment per course. If a school charges per semester (and a semester generally has 3 classes), your estimated downpayment per semester would be $833.25 x 3 or $2500 (rounded).
BTW, a good LPN school will already break this down for you so you don't need to mush your brains with the computations. 3. Pell Grant and Stafford loans
-- are just a few of the MANY financial student aid options that can be made available to qualified students. You will be eliminating quite a good few of them (such as WIA, GI Bill, Dept of HR grants, other grants and scholarships) if you just settle on these two.
A better metric would be to see how much you're making and ask your candidate school "Based on my financial situation, what financial student aid remedy can I benefit from?" A good LPN school won't corner you into just one financial aid package (like taking out a direct loan,etc). Rather, they will let you know, based on your ability to generate income, on which ones you may qualify for... You can then decide the right (not the best) financial plan for you. 4. Morning/Evening programs
-- are you looking for the quality of their morning/evening sessions or just the availability of said services?
A better metric would be to ask yourself, "do I want to go to work while going to school? If so, do I want to work day or night? From there.. you can then limit to whichever candidate school offers the classes (time/day/locations) you're looking for. 5. Accredited
-- If a school is not accredited, does it get a zero? It may be unfair to new schools, specially if they're close to getting accredited (accreditation takes time).
A better metric would be to ask the institution if they're accredited... If they are, for how long? Accreditation longevity generally means a more stable school as these schools have taken the path that'll allow them to 'improve' on a year to year basis. If they're not accredited, then ask when are they getting accredited? Or have they applied for accreditation? A "no" answer to both should be a warning to you to drop them from your list -- as Accreditations are the school's ticket to many educational services like Federal Student Aids, School Articulations, degree-granting programs, etc. 6. Potential for RN
-- There's a cardinal rule in the Nursing Education community that unless a School has been approved by the Board of Nursing, it IS NOT approved, period -- Hence, it cannot advertise or even mention in the slightest sense that they're about to offer an RN program. LPN-Approved schools can get into trouble if they advertise to potential students (from a marketing perspective), that they're applying for an RN program. Even then... the time/effort it takes to go through an IDFPR approval is quite time-consuming (may take a year or more from time of submission, to time to offer).
A better metric would be to ask an LPN school if they've "articulated" with an RN-school so you can "bridge" your PN to RN if/when you choose to. A good LPN school will already have one or more articulation with a higher learning institution in place long before you set your foot in the door.
Last but not least, one of the most over-looked components of a good LPN school is the way they treat the prospective student. Your 'gut feel' will tell you this when you sit down face-to-face with a candidate school's representative(s).
Watch for things like... "Is this person doing way too much selling? Or does the program sells itself based on historical performance?" A good LPN school will treat you like a 'partner' instead of just another student whom they need to enroll so they can reach their daily/weekly quota. You'll know that a school is trying to partner with you when they're giving you "options" than telling you "this is the way it is."
I hope I did not end up discouraging you by the volume of materials above. Choosing the "right" Nursing school is not an easy task. However, there's nothing that a 'committed' heart or mind cannot do. If your heart and mind are set dead on to becoming a nurse, the things above will all fall into their respective places as you do and complete your research.
Keep asking questions until you have the answers you're looking. Remember, the only dum questions are questions that are never asked.
Keep on it and more power to you.