Does education have a "soul," and how much should you pay for it?


Please hack my thinking on this, the crusty old bats especially:

I'm already accepted in this CC ADN program, have already completed one semester with clinicals.

The program I'm thinking of transferring into is a private university which I think will be a better educational experience. I feel some kind of dissatisfaction with where I am.

The atmosphere seems much better on the private campus, it is more personal, more of a community. Last week I just showed up in their nursing department unannounced, my first visit to the campus, and a nursing faculty member (not admissions folks) actually stopped what she was doing and invited me into her office to discuss the program. At my CC ADN program, I am hesitant to even approach my instructors sometimes...they seem swamped, over-extended. I am a strong student, and there always seems to be others who "need" the attention of faculty more than I do.

I'm in Philadelphia, and most of the hospitals want the BSN. I was a freelance artist most of my life (I'm 45), and I'm going to have to really work to market myself. My thinking is that it might actually be worth it to take out the $30K in loans to go from zero to BSN by 2015. I'd have a better shot at starting my nursing career in a hospital job where I can use all the skills, and a more direct route to my interests of oncology, public health, critical care...

I've been reading about RN-BSN online program costs, and for sure, they can be bought for one third of the cost of a BSN from this private university. But isn't there value in the, I guess they call it the "brick and mortar" college experience? And being part of a class in an old, beautiful college, where people notice each other and the school treats you like an important individual? This is one of this schools selling points, and picked up on that mood when I went there. The difference in atmosphere btwn my CC and this uni is like night and day: my CC feels like a trade school. And, won't a humane, collegial educational experience, the "name" of the school, and my effort (high GPA, volunteer work), facilitate my finding employment in a humane, healthy facility or unit? Cause this is the most important thing to me...a supportive, healthy work environment. Does this sound like magical thinking? Sentimental idealism? I'm sure it does, cause maybe it is.

Still and all, maybe a better atmosphere would make the school experience more meaningful, and maybe it's worth paying off all that debt to come out of the gate with the BSN from the private university. Is value about more than money? Does an old private university offer something more than snob appeal? Is that something worth paying for? Not just for a HS grad on parents' dime, but even for a 45 year old single mom on a fixed income? It's an individual choice, of course!

I still have to compare the # of clinical hours each program offers, that will influence my decision.

So, the factors are: meaningfulness and atmosphere of the school experience, money I will owe, prestige of the BSN from that institution as it relates to my marketablility as a new grad. Yeah quite a mouthful huh.

Does anyone share my view? What was your experience?


llg, PhD, RN

13,469 Posts

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 46 years experience.

For me, personally ... I would feel that the extra expense of the better school would be worth it, given the circumstances that you will be unlikely to find a good job in Philadelphia as a new grad with an ADN. However, you need to be sure that the school you are talking about is truly a good school with a strong reputation. Also, you will pay a high financial price for choosing that path -- and you must be prepared to pay it.

It sounds to me as if you have thought this through and ARE aware of the downsides of making the expensive choice. $30K is a lot of money, but probably a do-able amount. If you can handle it financially, it is what I would do. But not everyone would make the same choice.

I wish you the best of luck, regardless of what you decide.


150 Posts

Yeah, when you talk about a "good school:" that could mean different things to different people. To me, it's: how good you're prepared for the job your aiming for, the customer service aspect of how you are treated as a student by faculty and administration, and what its like going there, snob appeal. Not just snob appeal, I mean, I feel almost romantic about the ambiance of an old university (goofy?)

You weigh these things against cost.

I guess you could compare certain aspects of choosing a school to the choice between staying in a dumpy motel or a Hilton. There's something to say for a school where, you go to use the bathroom and don't have to keep picking a different stall till you find a toilet that's not disgusting.

Need a couple more visits to the campus, and find out how the clinical hours stack up against the program I'm now in.

I wonder how many HR people choose who to call, with all other things being equal, based on where a nurse got her education. It probably happens...then again, that could have the opposite effect too: anti-elitist folks who'd choose the RN without a big name degree, on principal. Actually, that sounds like something I would do, heh heh!

Experience is what truly matters, but new grads cant be measured the same as experienced nurses.

Set sail on the crazy sea of today's job market as a new ADN, or as a BSN with a mountain of debt? That is the question.

llg, PhD, RN

13,469 Posts

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 46 years experience.

While a "good school" can mean a lot of things -- many of them simply "personal preference," -- what I meant by the expression in my post was whether or not it is fully accredited, highly respected by the nursing leaders in your region, and known for offering a high quality education that prepares you well for the job and qualifies you for career advancement.


382 Posts

While a "good school" can mean a lot of things -- many of them simply "personal preference," -- what I meant by the expression in my post was whether or not it is fully accredited, highly respected by the nursing leaders in your region, and known for offering a high quality education that prepares you well for the job and qualifies you for career advancement.

This..There's a private university around here that caters to students, beautiful campus and everything but many of the hospitals don't like to hire from that university because they don't think the students receive a high quality education for whatever reason. Private does not always mean a high quality education. Does this school have full accreditation? How do the hospitals in the area feel about hiring students from there? I may be wrong, but it seems like you are just in love with the "idea" of going to an old private beautiful university. Yes, the faculty may treat you much better there, but make sure the education you are getting is a good education as well. I know of schools that treat their students like kings and queens, but the education isn't always the best. I'm not saying that's the case here at all though.

No school is perfect, and any school you go to is probably going to have flaws. Just make sure this school is accredited and really is offering you a great education for your money. You've already completed a clinical semester at your current school, correct? Make sure everything is going to transfer, and there's a chance those clinical rotations won't transfer. Since it is a BSN program you will likely have to take additional pre-reqs before you can even start clinicals there. Make sure all of this is worth it to you before switching, and make sure it really is a well respected program by nursing leaders and employers. I wouldn't want to go through all the trouble of transferring when you're already in clinicals just to find out they aren't accredited or something of the sort.


150 Posts

Good thoughts.

I am in love with the idea of the type of school it is, its true, but---its the BSN as much or more that I need!

It's not as deep as I thought. It IS down to personal preference, quality of education. I will do some more homework.

Have a great weekend!


5 Articles; 404 Posts

Specializes in Hem/Onc/BMT. Has 11 years experience.

I believe that the value of an education is completely dependent on what you get out of it. If I were in your position, I would no doubt choose the school I am in love with, because my tendency is to emphasize the process rather than end result. Of course, provided that it's all within your financial means.

I think I know how you feel because I've been in a similar situation years ago when I began LVN-RN bridge program. It was absolutely uninspiring and lacking in challenge. I quickly withdrew... for extraneous circumstances but felt happy to be out of there. Years later, I chose a program at my alma mater where I knew the caliber of instruction. I don't care for the service or close relationship with faculty in an institution, but I do want an amazing, inspiring, and brilliant teachers. I got exactly that, and don't regret having taken a circuitous route to become an RN.

If your priority is simply becoming an RN quickly and practically, staying at CC would be best. If college experience is important to you, go to your dream university (that you can afford.)

Does education have a soul? Quite many people would disagree these days, but I say absolutely yes! As long as there are people who devote their life for the pursuit of knowledge and have passion for sharing and teaching. The honor of receiving instruction from such people, I wouldn't trade the experience for the world.