I'm not in nursing school, but am hoping to be soon. I began looking at schools about 10 months ago (starting with about 40ish schools nationwide) and finally narrowed it down to just a few. US News has 2007 nursing school rankings
that are in interesting (and that's about all) to look at, but the best thing you can do is make a list and just start going through them while collecting info from places like here and and any RN friends you have. They are all different, plus it can depend a lot on what you are looking for
(BSN, ADN, 2nd Degree, online, price, what type of RN job you hope to get after, career goals, etc.).
Just my opinion, but here are the schools (in Texas) that I looked at and thought were all good options. A lot of these got scratched from my list for various reasons (price, prereqs, start date, etc.), but all good schools I thought:
(in no particular order)
2) UTHSC Houston
2) UTHSC San Antonio
3) UT Tyler
4) TWU (programs in both Dallas & Houston - the dallas campus has a new facility)
5) UT Arlington
6) UT Austin (you said not to mention this one, BUT it belongs on the list)
There are of course other programs like A&M, TX Tech, etc.... but these are the ones I thought were the top picks. Here is a list of questions (definitely not exhaustive) I asked/thought about when researching schools:
1) NCLEX pass rate (1st time)
2) cost vs. value (namely - does the extra $ for a place like Baylor get you a better job than a place like UTA?)
3) How many clinical hours (there's a minimum, but past that sometimes it can vary between schools)? In what format (group vs. precep)?
4) What hospital(s) do I rotate in?
5) Class format? (online, in-person, mixed)
6) program length? (18 months vs. 24 months, etc.)
7) Faculty availability and support? Student-Instructor ratio?
8) What percentage of students have jobs when they graduate from here? (account for the economy of course)
I could keep going, but you get the idea. Looking at the length of this post, it's probably more info than you wanted. Last thing - interviews. Yes. Some places have them, others don't. But it sounds like you're finding out what I did - admittance to nursing school is competitive.