Some thoughts on DE program admissions

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    I recently finished my application "journey" and have a few things I would like to share to those who are prospective DE applicants.

    Though I applied to nine schools, I ultimately was only offered admission to three. I originally applied to the University of Southern Maine, Yale, Penn, Boston College, MGH Institute of Health Professions, Simmons, University of Hawaii, Marquette, and Seattle University. Out of those, I was offered admission to Boston College (ranked #31 in nursing by US News), MGH (#64), and Marquette (#44). However, I was rejected from Penn (#1), Yale (#7), University of Hawaii (#99), Seattle University (#127), and University of Southern Maine (#127). I withdrew my application from Simmons (#127) after there were some complications with it. What I am trying to show with these rankings is that each school has its own set of criteria that they base their admissions decisions upon, and it is really hard to figure out where you will be accepted and denied. It also depends on the strength of their admissions pool. My recommendation is to cough up the money and apply to schools across the board, since you can’t really predict how an admissions committee is going to work.

    I have been following forums on allnurses.com, and these have proven to be a great resource. By reading the previous year’s threads, I was able to gauge the strength of admissions pools, as well as when I should hear back from the colleges by (a lot of admissions committees say vague things like, “you will hear by the end of March”). I would highly recommend reading through these forums to do a little extra research.

    Lastly, here is a link to a list of direct-entry MSN programs accredited by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. This list isn’t exhaustive, but it proved very helpful for me when I was trying to figure out where to apply.
    If you are reading this and in the midst of applications/research, feel free to message me with questions. I am writing a blog about my DE NP school experience if you would like the link to it. And good luck to you!
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  3. 9 Comments so far...

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    Great post- good information. I am applying in the fall to schools for DE, and I am so glad I stumbled across this! Thank you for sharing.
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    Hello! I am beginning my application journey, and found your post very interesting. Thanks for sharing! And I would LOVE the link to your blog.

    If you don't mind me asking (and if you don't mind sharing), what were your stats (GPA and GRE scores)? Did you have any type of health care experience (either volunteer or paid)? It's always helpful to see where you stand. I think that gaining acceptance to 3 out of 9 schools is AWESOME! Boston College is a wonderful school. What did you end up picking? I am applying to Yale, UPenn, Columbia, Marquette, University of Vermont, Boston College, Northeastern, Johns Hopkins, University of Massachusetts, and Vanderbilt, along with an ABSN at my current institution.

    Thanks so much!
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    Ditto hopefulnurse24. I am applying to lots of those universities too! I do think the best strategy is to cast a wide net. It's a huge time and money investment but I think it will pay off. I am applying to Yale, UPenn, and Columbia too along with like 6 or 7 others. I went and talked to my health professions advisor yesterday and he was like "I don't know much about nursing but if you were a pre-med I would tell you not to even bother applying to these 'brand name' schools"
    My school's health professions office doesnt have any nursing resources. I am the only person in my cohort going into nursing, med school is way more popular. I think I still have a chance. I haven't taken my GRE yet but I m graduating early from a top 10 undergrad university with a GPA of 3.3 (the average graduating GPA at my school. Nobody has graudated with a 4.0 from my undergrad in over 10 years). I have lots of clinical experience too. My health professions office is notorious for putting people down and squashing any ounce of confidence left in us. Basically every appointment I've ever been to with them they spend more than half the time attempting to talk us out of the medical profession. Sorry, this is totally off topic but it just happened yesterday so I had to share.
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    Great post. It really highlights that school rankings are nothing but advertising dollars.

    My advice as a third year DE: talk to people in the program and people at the hospitals surrounding the program. They will give you far more insight into how well the program performs. Also, make sure to check pass rates for the boards! Don't spend 80k on a 80% pass rate.

    One of the program you listed as top ranking has graduates that notoriously have difficulty finding jobs.
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    Quote from hopefulnurse24
    Hello! I am beginning my application journey, and found your post very interesting. Thanks for sharing! And I would LOVE the link to your blog.

    If you don't mind me asking (and if you don't mind sharing), what were your stats (GPA and GRE scores)? Did you have any type of health care experience (either volunteer or paid)? It's always helpful to see where you stand. I think that gaining acceptance to 3 out of 9 schools is AWESOME! Boston College is a wonderful school. What did you end up picking? I am applying to Yale, UPenn, Columbia, Marquette, University of Vermont, Boston College, Northeastern, Johns Hopkins, University of Massachusetts, and Vanderbilt, along with an ABSN at my current institution.

    Thanks so much!
    FYI for everyone else, I responded to this in a PM. I can't put my blog link on the forums directly. If anyone else wants it, PM me!
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    I think it's a great idea to start this thread. I'll also share a bit about my experience, if that's okay. I applied to six programs and received four acceptances, no rejections (this was my first year applying). I applied to UCSF, Seattle U, OHSU, Penn, Columbia, and Boston College. I was accepted to four programs (UCSF, Penn, Columbia, Boston College) and invited to interview at Seattle U and OHSU. I subsequently cancelled both my interviews with Seattle U and OHSU, because I had already been admitted to my top choices (Penn and UCSF).

    I think one reason why I had such a good experience this time around is that I didn't really have any negatives on my application (strong GPA, strong GRE, lots of research/work/clinical experiences with my populations of interest, including the underserved, etc.) I also only used recommenders who I was absolutely certain would sing my praises. However, the most important thing that I think got me in was presenting a coherent narrative in my personal statement, interviews, etc. that "gelled" together with my resume/academic history. In other words, you want to weave it all together... Why nursing? Why advanced practice nursing? Why your specialty? How does this relate to your background? Why this particular program? And most importantly - what are your (specific!) career goals and how will a MSN degree at X University lead to you achieve them?

    If you don't have tons of hours as a volunteer or if you haven't "saved the world", don't panic. You can still get in. Just play up your other experiences in a way that relates to your goals and nursing (such as, I have x experience with x population or x skill in x discipline and I plan on translating that to my nursing experience in this way...) I had few hours volunteering in a hospital, really my experience was mostly academic and research (although my research experience was technically clinical, even though it was in psychology, not medicine). Don't worry about the number of hours you have, worry about your coherent narrative and *how* this relates to nursing, your goals, etc.

    To me it seems like nursing (especially top schools) is in an interesting place as a field. As the NP role becomes more expanded and supported (along with the DNP, hopefully), nursing seems to be a field that is seeking to assert itself as a legitimate "discipline" and get rid of the negative stereotypes (doctor's handmaiden, etc.). If you present yourself as a career-driven, academically inclined individual who knows what she/he wants and has clearly done your homework on the field and your specialty, you'll do well. Expressing interest in research and teaching (and being able to back that interest up with your history) will help you go far. But of course, comprehensive patient care is number one.

    I agree with others that using allnurses is an excellent resource. Also, I'll be blogging about my experience as well, including getting into knitty gritty details about applying. I really want to spend an entire blog post about the goal statement, since I believe that's the best tool you can use to secure an acceptance or interview. Tip #1 would be to spend at least 30 minutes tailoring your goal statement each time you submit for a school, incorporating that individual school's mission statement and playing up what seems important to them (underserved populations, research, critical thinking, whatever).

    Good luck to all future applicants!
    Last edit by myelin on May 23, '12 : Reason: HOLY CRAP! this ended up being way longer than I had intended. Sorry guys. I guess I should get on that blogging thing...
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    Quote from de2013
    Great post. It really highlights that school rankings are nothing but advertising dollars.

    My advice as a third year DE: talk to people in the program and people at the hospitals surrounding the program. They will give you far more insight into how well the program performs. Also, make sure to check pass rates for the boards! Don't spend 80k on a 80% pass rate.

    One of the program you listed as top ranking has graduates that notoriously have difficulty finding jobs.
    WHich of the programs? I am applying to some of the schools she listed too...
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    I would be curious to hear which program, also.
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    I don't really feel like it is appropriate for me to post the school's name on anecdotal third-party evidence. Rather, take some time yourselves and investigate programs: take a close look at graduates of the program and the local hospitals/clinics in the area you want to work an see what they say.


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