Application essay advice

Nursing Students Pre-Nursing



i'm in the process of applying to several boston-area accelerated bsn programs, but i'm really struggling with the application essay. i feel like i have plenty to write about, but i'm not sure of the delivery. i'm getting advice from two camps: overwhelm & conquer, and the storytellers.

the overwhelm and conquer camp is recommending i try to sell every last thing about myself (grades, experience, etc) and really stick answering "why nursing? why me?" in the purest sense. think: "i would make an excellent nurse because of x, y & z."

the storytellers are recommending i tell a specific story ("i'll never forget the day i met patient x...") and how the events affected me and my decision to go into nursing. they said you can weave in other events here and there, but focus on the single story.

my first choice school doesn't interview, and last year had about 4 applicants for every available seat, so i'm really feeling the pressure to use the essay as my chance to stand out from the crowd and show who i really am. i'm worried option a would be typical and boring, but option b could force me to leave out some of the things i want to say.

any thoughts? what has worked for other applicants?

any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Specializes in ICU / PCU / Telemetry / Oncology.

From what I understand, the best essays are the ones that make you stand out among the rest. A rote "I want to be a nurse because x, y, and z" essay will not do that, everyone else is going to do that, and the admissions people really don't want to read the same reasons over and over (and face it, most all applicants want to go to nursing school for the same reasons and in some way they all say the same thing in some flavor or another). I would go with the story, find some way to weave your qualities into the story and engage the reader. For instance, instead of saying straight out that you're committed to caring for the sick, say it in a story without saying it (e.g., "My grandfather's aggresive cancer was slowly drawing him closer to his last breath, but I was determined to stay there all night holding his hand and caressing his frail arm so he could feel comfort in knowing that he was not alone.") ... I made that up, but you get the idea. Your true story should paint the picture of why you want to be a nurse without actually stating the facts. It's more exciting that way. Anyway, that is what I plan to do :)

The movie, Spanglish, is supposed to be a young woman's application essay to Princeton University. The opening lines are the typical pretentious crapola that admissions folks get foisted on them all the time.

A good essay makes a connection that leaves the reader wanting more of you.

Here are some tips--

I'm of the "tell a story" school of thought, but make sure it's genuine. Don't be overly dramatic to show how passionate and sincere you are. Just be real.

Your "story" may not revolve around a single incident, but rather offer a progression of events that led to your decision to become a nurse.

It might help if you talk the story out to a couple of people you trust. Putting the thoughts into words can organize the information and tell you what matters most.

Write the essay the first time. Put it away for a couple of hours. Come back and read it out loud. Yes, out loud. Your ear will catch things your eye slides right over.

Let someone else read it.

Take all of this information and write the story again.

Have at least two skilled people read it and correct any errors.

Write it again. Proofread again.

Make any corrections and put it away again.

Come back and change any last bits that need it.

Send it off with a wish and a prayer.

An interesting, carefully-written essay is a pleasure to find in the stack of dull ones.

I wish you the best.

Do you have a specific topic/s to write about? A space limitation? I just submitted my essay with my application; it could only be 1 page, 12 font, single spaced; 3 questions! No way could you fluff things up. Personally, I don't think anyone wants the "I did this and I did that..."style of writing. Start your essay with an interesting situation...think of the beginning, middle and end format. Definately put it away for awhile. It took about a month for me to complete mine for this very reason. rn/writer gave excellent suggestions...follow them.

Good luck.

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