Accepted to 2 Nursing Programs: Help me decide which is the best option

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    Dear Nurse Beth, I'm 29, and have a BS in Physiology ('09) and a MS in Healthcare Management ('14) and have just recently been admitted to 2 programs (and waiting to hear back from a third) for Nursing schools! I've been working in Healthcare Admin for about 6 years, and currently going on my 2nd year working as a Case Manager for an insurance plan in San Diego, CA. Which is what renewed my interest in nursing as I work on a hospital floor conducting assessments with patients.

    Accepted to 2 Nursing Programs: Help me decide which is the best option

    Now my actual question:

    Given the saturated market in which I live, and the fact that getting a New Grad residency program is basically a 1 in 100,000 chance... Which program would better suit me in the long run professionally speaking!? I am so torn with indecision. I would like some advice from you and anyone else willing to share their two cents

    OPTION 1 -

    A well known and respected brick and mortar state school offering a two year ABSN in San Diego. Clinicals every semester at different locations in the county, with the option/opportunity for two semesters of externships and thus good exposure in my area. However, the cost is 55K, and as a KICKER I'will likely have to quit working almost entirely... Maybe I can snag a 10-20hr part time job doing CNA like work only after the first semester - but my current employer cannot keep me part time.

    OPTION 2 -

    WGU'S ABSN program lasting 2.5 years, costing half the price (~25K). However, clinicals are only two weeks every three months, and located in Los Angeles county. The drives would be very long, and there are also no externship opportunities. Essentially, I would have little if any networking exposure in my hometown. The biggest plus is I can continue to work FULL TIME, and continue earning a living for at least my first year since all didactic is online. Plus my employer would pay 5K in tuition reimbursement for that first year.

    OPTION 3 -

    Attend a much cheaper (6K) ADN program at a local community college. This would allow me to get extra student loans to pay for living expenses while I am unable to work. While still affording me the convenience of staying local in San Diego, in the proper hospitals for good networking and visibility in the workforce --- without financially shooting myself in the foot.

    The reason the financial aspects worry me is that I still have ~ 50K in loans from my previous two degrees.... Just as an added bonus, my husband is currently in the midst of switching jobs where we would lose a significant portion of his income... which could be compounded even worse if I need to completely stop working myself as well.

    I've got a lot on my plate right now! Option 1 is my dream school, but I realize Option 2 or 3 may be the more realistic choices for life balance slash not inadvertently ruining my marriage via money problems. **SIGH**

    HELPPPPP,
    Undeclared



    Dear Undecided,

    I would rule out Option#2 off the bat, as WGU is a Pass/Fail grading system which does not always transfer well if you go on to earn your graduate nursing degree at another school. Clinical "intensives" will not give you the preparation that clinical rotations in a traditional nursing program will.

    I googled best BSN nursing programs in San Diego and got this;

    Top School in San Diego for Nursing and Nursing Administration

    So... 55K at the school that is your dream school is pricey!

    I would not want to be responsible for swaying you and your husband into an untenable financial situation and I cannot make that call.

    But I will say, finances aside - option # 1.

    Having your BSN is going to help you land your first job, especially in your area. It may even be required to be eligible for a residency program, and certainly is required to be competitive.

    If you do not choose to get your BSN from the get-go, you will have to go back for it anyway.

    That price tag is bothersome, though...but even so. You need your BSN. Good luck with your decision.

    Best wishes,

    Nurse Beth

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    Nurse Beth has '20+' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho'. From 'Bakersfield, CA'; Joined Mar '07; Posts: 741; Likes: 2,400.

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    18 Comments

  3. by   Froggybelly
    Speak to students who attend the nursing program at your dream school and compare it to the community college. The benefit of attending a community college (in addition to paying lower tuition) is that you are hypothetically independent in much less time and can work while you earn your BSN. It's very difficult, but I know a lot of people who are working full time and attending an RN-BSN program. This is what I did and I will graduate with zero debt. However, if you are impressed by the university and you're willing to foot the bill, go for it. Because your BSN will be earned in only two years, your dream school may allow you to attend graduate school sooner if you want to (and find finding).
  4. by   Steffy44
    Quote from Froggybelly
    Speak to students who attend the nursing program at your dream school and compare it to the community college. The benefit of attending a community college (in addition to paying lower tuition) is that you are hypothetically independent in much less time and can work while you earn your BSN. It's very difficult, but I know a lot of people who are working full time and attending an RN-BSN program. This is what I did and I will graduate with zero debt. However, if you are impressed by the university and you're willing to foot the bill, go for it. Because your BSN will be earned in only two years, your dream school may allow you to attend graduate school sooner if you want to (and find finding).
    Exactly what I did. Got my ADN through community college and am two classes from my BSN. It's 100% online...6 classes for the entire thing. Of course I had all the prereqs completed prior to applying.
  5. by   peculiarannie
    Have you looked into programs that offer a bachelors (in a non-nursing field) to RN with a masters? Here in northern CA there are several schools that offer this path and I think they are about 2 years. You don't get your BSN, you just go straight to MSN since you already have your bachelors in something else. I'm sure they are pretty expensive, maybe comparable to option #1, but it may feel like it's more worth the $$$ since you'll have a masters.

    With an ADN it is harder to get into a hospital new grad program. In the Bay Area, hospitals are all looking for RNs with at least BSN. I would take a look at hospitals job openings near you and see what their requirements are.

    Is Azusa Pacific University near you? They might have such a program. I am looking at them for my ADN to BSN.

    I wish I could give you more advice. I took a totally different path to RN so it's hard for me to put myself in your shoes. But hope this little bit may have helped some!

    Good luck!!!
  6. by   SoWellRounded
    Unless I'm missing something, I'm pretty sure "brick and mortar state school BSN program in San Diego" can only refer to SDSU...

    $55k seems a bit excessive unless she's an out of state resident. (But I could be wrong, the VA paid my tuition). I would recommend checking with the school and looking around on your own, my school's program coordinated a number of scholarship opportunities (often offered by a 3rd party, but you would turn in your application to the school). Getting one or more of those can really help defray costs. I happened to find one on my own offered by a local hospital; not a lot of money, but better than nothing.

    Quote from peculiarannie
    Have you looked into programs that offer a bachelors (in a non-nursing field) to RN with a masters? Here in northern CA there are several schools that offer this path and I think they are about 2 years. You don't get your BSN, you just go straight to MSN since you already have your bachelors in something else. I'm sure they are pretty expensive, maybe comparable to option #1, but it may feel like it's more worth the $$$ since you'll have a masters.
    Entry Level Masters. Anyone who wants to see a list of the CA programs, scroll to the bottom of this page: RN Programs
    Two are in San Diego, but both are private.

    And for anyone else looking, to my knowledge CSULB's ELM is no more (I got my BSN there, would have done the ELM except I missed it by a semester taking my last pre-req). They used to take 1 cohort every 3 years (3 year program), but it depended on getting a large grant each time. I think the grant money dried up. The last cohort graduated last May.

    With an ADN it is harder to get into a hospital new grad program. In the Bay Area, hospitals are all looking for RNs with at least BSN. I would take a look at hospitals job openings near you and see what their requirements are.
    I think that's true state wide, at least in the urban areas. But most of my friends from when I took pre-reqs at a CC who got their ADN there have landed jobs at small hospitals. The bigger/more prestigious places are nearly impossible without a BSN. And a formal new grad program/residency? I've only heard of a BSN as a minimum.

    Is Azusa Pacific University near you? They might have such a program. I am looking at them for my ADN to BSN.
    APU is in... Azusa! (not within driving distance of San Diego)

    Back to the original writer: As I said above, I got my BSN at CSULB, definitely happy with that choice. I was in the accelerated track, and several classmates had part time jobs, it was manageable in 1st semester, but 2nd semester (over the summer) I don't think anyone worked. Those who wanted started working again in 3rd semester. I had several friends at the community college, and 2 continued on at Fullerton, the rest are finishing up at CSULB. That's another year to a year and a half. And most are working as RNs while they do it. So that's definitely a possibility, but timewise it takes longer to get to the BSN.
  7. by   OrganizedChaos
    I know where I live I could get employed easily with an ADN. Since you live in California it would probably be in your best bet to go straight for your BSN. However, I would not pay that much for it. So I am leaning toward option #2 for you.
  8. by   EsJ87
    Thanks for your response! I did end up to speaking to a few graduates from each program, and all had wonderful things to say about each of the 3 programs - whcih made my task no easier. However, since Option 1 and Option 3 were both the same length - and option 3 was 6 months longer... this ended up helping
  9. by   EsJ87
    Thanks for your response!
  10. by   EsJ87
    @SoWellRounded --- Thanks for your insightful post!! The program for option #1 was actually California State University San Marcos - which is where I ended up decided to attend. I definitely plan on applying to scholarships!!! As i will likely run out of financial aid halfway through the program.... However, I am happy with my decision and believe it to be the best one for my situaiton and aspirations - even if I will be in debt forever hahah.
  11. by   SoWellRounded
    Quote from EsJ87
    @SoWellRounded --- Thanks for your insightful post!! The program for option #1 was actually California State University San Marcos - which is where I ended up decided to attend. I definitely plan on applying to scholarships!!! As i will likely run out of financial aid halfway through the program.... However, I am happy with my decision and believe it to be the best one for my situaiton and aspirations - even if I will be in debt forever hahah.
    City of SD versus San Diego County. Tricky.

    The scholarship I got was certainly on the small end: $500 the first time, $1,000 the 2nd (depends on how many apply each year, and how much $$$ they have to hand out). But hey, for only requiring a few hours of my time, well worth the effort. I'm sure there are similar ones in your area that are kind of hidden and unknown like the one I got was.

    Are you certain about the expense of San Marcos? I think our spring/fall tuition and fees was something like $7,200 each semester, and in the summer it was about 1,500 more. So in the neighborhood of $46,000 for a classmate with zero financial aid (6 semesters).

    Is postponing your attendance by a year an option the school offers or something you would consider?? You'd want to meet with a financial planner to really help you go over the numbers, but just one more year of working and paying as much of your old loans off as possible, could really help you out in the long run (saving on interest). With an Excel spreadsheet and some basic formulas, you could work this out on your own.

    And if anyone can hold down a part time job while in school, I have to think that definitely applies to you. Due to your academic and career background, you'll have a foundation none of your classmates will have, which should hopefully mean you don't need to study as much. And of course your past jobs will look really attractive once you do have your BSN.

    However, since Option 1 and Option 3 were both the same length - and option 3 was 6 months longer... this ended up helping
    ehh?
  12. by   Larocquh
    In response to a post above, APU does have a campus in San Diego with an entry level masters nursing program among several
    others. It's in mission valley.


    I'm applying to ADN programs in San Diego for fall 2017 admission. I believe almost all of the CCs in the county now have a bridge program with Point Loma Nazarene. You earn your adn and then immediately bridge to get your bsn through Point Loma. However you still take the classes on the CC campus. I know several people who are going this route (myself included) and it is SO MUCH cheaper........ Ucsd won't hire adns due to their magnet status, however I have been told scripps and kaiser will take adns, and if you're enrolled in a bsn program at the time you apply for a new grad position it will better increase your chances. If there is anyway for you to stay working in a hospital while in the program I would definitely do it. It will give you a better chance at landing a position in a new grad program if you are already working in that hospital and can apply internally. The experience you already have should help out as well!
    Last edit by Larocquh on Feb 13
  13. by   Insperation
    I think you made the right decision. CSUSM is highly respected and a great school(from what I hear). Now you will graduate with your BSN and be competitive in the job market. 55k is not THAT much, some schools can charge way more. The pay in California is very good and with a good living situation and a little overtime, you will pay it back soon enough.

    Good luck future RN
  14. by   mani96
    I know you've already made your decision, but...I'd just like to throw in some advice because I was in your situation 4 years ago. After applying to a local ADN program and being wait listed for 2 years, I started applying to other programs. The third year, I finally got into the local ADN program, and was also accepted to private university accelerated 2nd degree BSN program that same year. The BSN cost: ~$70,000 for 17 months. ADN cost: ~$13,000 for two years. I went with the BSN program and justified it by wanting to be done with the BSN as well as feeling that my experience at a "prestigious university" would be valued by nurse managers when I started applying for jobs. I'm now over $80,000 in debt. I do have a job on an acute floor, which I started as a new grad. I looked for a job for 9 months after graduating from nursing school (I had left the state to go to nursing school) and had several interviews, and in those interviews, nobody really mentioned my BSN from the "prestigious university." I was just another new grad, trying to get my first job. Nursing is my 2nd, 3rd, etc. career and I had several other work experiences before becoming a nurse. Hindsight is 20/20 of course, and I now feel that taking on that much educational debt was really stupid. Some debt can be forgiven through various gov programs (that you have to apply and be chosen for) but my private educational loan is going to be with with me probably for the rest of my life. It's not worth it. Just my 2 cents.


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