BSN right away OR community college RN, then BSN


  1. BSN straight out of high school OR community college and transfer to BSN while working?

    • BSN straight out of high school
    • Community college for ADN then transfer to get BSN while working?

20 members have participated

Hey everyone,

Is it best to go get your BSN straight out of high school or to go to a community college to get my ADN then get my BSN through a bridge program? I'm wondering what is the best option considering both money and time. In your guys' opinion, which is better and why?


671 Posts

Ultimately you do want bsn. The question is do you have the expenses covered? Generally speaking if you complete ADN and then an rn to bsn program it will cost less. You can do a straight away bsn program at a 4 year university however that may be costly and it's also quite competitive to get into a bsn program too. Prereqs are going to take time to complete most complete all of them around 2 years, the ADN program itself is 2 years and the rn to bsn program length varies as some people complete courses faster than others.

Specializes in Pediatrics, Emergency, Trauma. Has 18 years experience.

Have you surveyed your area?

What is your end game?

Both the ADN and BSN programs are similar; however, if your market is BSN-preferred heavy, then your best bet would be the BSN.

Find out what markets you are interested in, find out what area facilities are hiring; also if you are interested in working with the military (such as in military hospitals and the VA) you would want your BSN.


93 Posts

I did my ADN and then RN-BSN transition. It was cheaper to begin with, and once I started work as a nurse my hospital payed for a majority of my tuition (tuition reimbursement). Also the RN to BSN is a great way to boost a GPA if you are looking at applying to grad school later on. RN - BSN route should be an easy 4.0. Good luck!


8 Posts

I did my ADN and then RN-BSN transition. It was cheaper to begin with, and once I started work as a nurse my hospital payed for a majority of my tuition (tuition reimbursement). Also the RN to BSN is a great way to boost a GPA if you are looking at applying to grad school later on. RN - BSN route should be an easy 4.0. Good luck!

I'm curious, when you did the RN-BSN transition was did you go to school full-time or part-time? I'm wondering if it is difficult to make the transition while working?


26 Posts

Has 10 years experience.

I also did an RN-BSN program. I was a full time student and worked part time. It was 4 semesters.

Good luck with whatever route you choose!


569 Posts

Both BSN first or ADN then BSN are good paths. Which one is the "right" choice is going to depend on your personal circumstances.

BSN will give you the most employment options immediately after graduation. If you can get into one, go for it. But that's assuming you can get in. People talk about ADN vs. BSN like these programs aren't competitive and people are totally free to pick and choose their school. Fact is, in a lot of areas there are way more spots available for ADN students than BSN, and BSN programs are difficult for anyone but the strongest students to get into. If you're currently in high school, you have a little more leeway in that regard, since you're more likely to be able to move to go to school.

BSN is the best option, but not to the extent that it's worth waiting a long time to get admitted to a program, or spending a huge amount of extra money.

Be aware that many nursing programs (ADN or BSN) don't admit directly from high school - you have to finish prerequisite coursework first, and admission to a specific school to do the prerequisite coursework doesn't guarantee admission into that school's nursing program.

RN to BSN programs are usually designed for working nurses, and many students both work and go to school full time. You'll have done all the clinical stuff already in the ADN program, so the RN to BSN should be much more flexible.

umbdude, MSN, APRN

1,227 Posts

Specializes in Psych/Mental Health. Has 6 years experience.

If you can get into a state school for BSN and pay cheap in-state tuition, do that. Else, get the ADN first at a community college.

Getting your BSN straight away is always a better choice because you won't need to apply and wait. However, don't waste money going to private universities.

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

226 Articles; 27,608 Posts

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 17 years experience.

I stair-stepped my way into the nursing profession by starting as an LPN/LVN, then earning an ASN degree/RN license, then obtaining a BSN degree. I am now enrolled in a MSN degree program.

However, I was a nontraditional student with a mortgage and other obligations, so the traditional route of 'zero to BSN' would not have worked for me. If you are a traditional student with time and youth on your hands, I suggest you pursue the BSN degree in the most affordable manner possible.


389 Posts

Specializes in ICU, trauma.

This may seem petty but I truly wanted a real college experience so I think the straight to bsn worked very great for me straight out of high school


32 Posts

In addition to what others have said so far, in my area it seems that the BSN programs are more flexible and will work with students to make sure they make it through the program, with completion rates in the upper 90s vs 50-70%.

Another issue is that the local universities with BSN programs and affiliated teaching hospitals are buying up all the small hospitals in the region and seem to be getting their students prioritized for clinical spots, so the community college programs have minimal ICU rotations while the BSN programs can have multiple per student. If you're wanting to start in an ICU upon graduation this can make a real difference.

I received my first bachelors degree at a university and then went to community college for nursing school thinking it would be cheaper, and found the difference in resources and assistance to be significant. If I were to do it again I'd try harder to get into a BSN program, and if I could only get into an associates program I'd look closely at their attrition rate.

I graduated last month and am starting my first job soon, so it still worked out. On the bright side, hopefully I'll be able to bump up my GPA with the RN-BSN as others mention ;-)

Specializes in ER.

It depends. If you spend 5 years on a wait list to get into an ADN program, is that really saving time and money?

One thing to keep in mind is that a lot of ADN programs used to utilize a wait list. My school had a wait list 5 years out and so people would go to other schools and earn their bachelors in the time it took for the school to call them to start attending. Is that worth it? They changed it to a point system though. I was one of the last ones on the waiting list so I was started fairly quickly because they were rushing people off the wait list. But people waited 5 or more years. People managed to get BSNs in the time it took for them to call them for a clinical start date.

So you need to have specific schools in mind and specific plans. I would recommend picking a mixture of schools and finding out about them. Find out what you need to apply. Do they utilize wait lists or do they do points? How can you maximize your pre-reqs in order to qualify for most schools? I wouldn't put all your eggs into one basket so I would select at least 3 BSN and 2 ADN schools that you want to attend.