Haunted by my past...What are my options?

Nursing Students NP Students


The year is 1987. A young man, raised in a cloistered small town in rural Alaska is accepted to a mid-western university. At first, things go well. Then, trouble begins. Girls and other worthy diversions are discovered, and classes are nearly forgotten. Our protagonist spends over three years rudderless and adrift, amassing an absolutely dismal academic record.

By chance, he takes an EMT class, and discovers his calling in the medical field. He ends his prodigal ways, moves back in with relatives in a different mid-western state and enrolls in an ADN program, and does quite well.

After 20+ years of ER/Critical Care transport and Urgent Care experience, the now not-so-young man enrolls in a RN to BSN program, and does VERY well.

He thinks to himself, "I'd like to become a Family Nurse Practitioner, and move back to rural Alaska. I can help provide care to people who really need it."

As he looks through the institutions which offer FNP, he begins to panic...."3.0 Cumulative GPA required for application...." "Applicants must have a 3.0 cumulative GPA to apply." "Minimum cumulative GPA required: 3.0."

Our subject gets a sinking, hollow feeling in his gut: Even with the good grades achieved in the ADN program, and the excellent grades in the RN to BSN program, his cumulative GPA sits -like an elephant upon an MI victim's chest- at a disappointing 2.78.

"Well," he says to himself "Maybe they don't mean it. Maybe if I just explain that I was a different person 30 years ago, and I have since gotten my act together. The RN to BSN grades prove that, don't they?" He completes the application for Concordia University, and the admission essay, he points out that his life has become more focused, more intentional and more driven than it was those 30 years ago.

It is to no avail. The dreaded letter arrives from Concordia: "Dear applicant.....regret... inform...GPA...does not meet requirements..."

A labored calculation shows that our hero must take 40 credits worth of classes at a 4.0 to raise his cumulative GPA to 3.0.

Are there any other options? Are there any programs which do not require a 3.0? Are there programs that look not at your cumulative GPA but at your major-specific GPA? Are there programs that cater to now-experienced middle-aged folks who may have made some mistakes in their distant pasts?

Mathew, I feel for you - similar story for me (although I'm not a nurse). My undergrad gpa is 2.8 and I have a masters now and teach undergrad and grad classes. Did you have nursing instructors write your letters of reference (even if the classes were a long time ago)? Especially clinical instructors or someone like a medical/nursing director at your hospital.

Couple options: Are you still in Alaska? If not, what state?

If you're in Alaska, I'd try to get an in-person meeting with someone in admissions at UAA: Use your friends/relatives/neighbors to see if you can find someone who knows someone at the school of nursing. Tell them your story and ask. If you're in Wisconsin, try to talk to someone at UW-Madison or Marquette. It might even be worth it to seek an in-person meeting with someone at Concordia if you're in the area.

Gonzaga University has a well-regarded program open to people in Alaska (along with WA, OR, ID etc). Try the same thing - see if you can talk to someone there.

People on this board (perhaps rightly so) bash schools with no admission hurdles (no GRE, no minimum GPA, no RN experience). The reason these schools are second tier is because they don't screen. In your case, that might be a benefit. I don't know which schools these are (but I can guess) but you may just need to do some internet searching. Lower rank schools may make it harder to be a strong candidate but you can make up for that with a strong resume as an RN and EMT.

You may also need to go to an expensive school. Going to a local school or an inexpensive school may not be possible. You may have to take "pot luck."

The other thing you could do is to take a graduate-level class or two as a non-degree seeking student and ACE them. I did this before my masters' program entry and admissions told me that if I did well, I'd be in. And the rest is history.

Good luck! This journey will make you a better NP.

I had a 2.8 undergrad... Took the GRE and did well, got into a masters of nursing program in leadership... finished that and now am finishing a post-masters NP program, both at brick and mortar schools. If that one school denied you, not all of them will. Keep trying.

Thanks to both of you, MierKat and diprifan, for your encouragement and insight.

I am currently a Wisconsin resident. My BSN is from Winona State University, which does have "Graduate Special Student" opportunities, where I can take graduate level classes without being accepted to graduate school, much as you described, MierKat. My difficulty lies in that WSU has no provision for a Master's level FNP, only a DNP. I would rather not spend 5 more years at school. I am 48 years old already, and while I don't know my exact personal expiration date... At this point, I realize that beggars can't be choosers, but I'd prefer to attend a shorter Master's level program.

I think I know some of the second tier, online schools of which you speak. I understand that my actions have consequences, and one of the consequences of my mis-steps from so long ago is that I can't get into any school I want. Maybe the second tier schools are my best option to allow me to acheive my goal.

Again, I appreciate greatly the time you both spent to reply, and the wisdom and support.

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU.

When I was young and VERY dumb, I was in nursing school and decided I didn't want to be a nurse so I quit going to classes (did NOT drop them) and joined the USN and left the next week.

Fast forward 12 years and I'm now not quite so dumb but I have a not so stellar 0.8gpa. So...I was admitted on academic probation for pre-reqs. I started slowly and built up to full time.

Try some general masters level classes without declaring a major and raise your GPA that way.

Best wishes.

Specializes in school nurse.

40 credits at 4.0 to raise cumulative GPA .22 points? I'm not doubting you, but have you had a second person crunch the numbers as well? (Seems severe...)

Thanks again for the comments.

Jedrnurse, I have not had someone look over my numbers, and admittedly, math is my kryptonite. I was calculating with 145 credits at the 2.78GPA.

If there is a math savant who can figure this out and show me some better numbers, I would be inclined to kiss that person!

Specializes in Adult Nurse Practitioner.

Talk to the admissions rep. I did a letter explaining my first time around scholastic immaturity and had the grades 4.0 from my RN to BSN program (I was admitted on probation for 2 semesters). Anyway, NP accepted me again with 2 semesters probation and I graduated with 4.0 again. There is usually someway to resolve the situation. Good luck!

40 credits at 4.0 to raise cumulative GPA .22 points? I'm not doubting you, but have you had a second person crunch the numbers as well? (Seems severe...)

He's right. He would need 32 credits to raise his gpa to 3.0 with 145 credits - and that's if he maintains a 4.0 moving forward.

Not impossible.

Mathew I bet if you took advanced Pharm and/or Advanced Patho at WSU and got As or A- then Concordia or some other strong school would accept you. I don't think you need to waste time/money on undergrad courses nor go to the DNP program if you don't want to. Try talking to schools first but if that doesn't work take and ace a grad level class. Some programs might make you retake but some might even give you credit so you don't have to take the classes again.

Also having a good GRE score Might be important so a prep class and a retake might be needed if you didn't do well.

My first two years in Jr College I quit classes and never dropped only to return years later to retake every one. I have known 3 nurses who fell below the NP minimum GPA and 1 CRNA applicant who also got in with a lower GPA. I remember one telling me they were admitted on probation or something where they had to earn 3.0 in the first semester, but that was the requirement anyway. I think it depends on the overall number of applicant and spots available. If they have 50 slots and 30 apply you should not have a problem, but if it is the other way around you may have problems. These requirements of GPA and GRE provide the programs easy ways of eliminating applicants they do not know. Good Luck!

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