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How competitive is it to get into a nursing school?

Hi Everybody! I have read many threads here and I think the advice is just great so I thought I would add my question here as well.

I am very interested in becoming a nurse but I am quite confused what it takes to get into a nursing school. I know everybody needs to have their pre-requisets but beyond that what is a determining factor?

I keep hearing these stories how difficult it is. One of my friends who is a nurse told about a woman she knows who has tried to get into a nursing school in many different places in Washington Tacoma, Shoreline and Everett to name few but hasn't had any success. The weird thing about it was that supposingly this person has gotten all A's in her pre-requisets and has previous experience. Since she hasn't had any luck here she is going to another state for a nursing school.

I think it is great that she has an option of going to another state for a school. That is really not an option for me since I am married and have kids so I need to stay here and try to get into a school here.

I also have attended in nursing advising sessions and in one of them an advisor said that if a person gets 3.0 and better on all the prerequisets it is pretty much guaranteed that they will be accepted to a nursing program.

So please do advice me what is REALLY required of a person? What is it that they are looking for in candidates? I also know that in some colleges (Everett, Shoreline) you can apply several times a year. How many times should one person try to apply to one college? When trying to get into a school does a past excperience help or is not really a factor?

I personally don't have any experience but I am considering becoming a CNA since I thought it might be helpful.

Any advice would be appreciated!

Hello!

In my experience, every nursing school has different specific criteria for acceptance. Some are based only on GPA, they start at 4.0 and go down the list until the spots are filled. Others, such at the Univ. of Washington program are looking for the "well-rounded" canidate. Their application points are divided into 5 20% sections: gpa, letter of recommendation, resume, hands on health care experience, and volunteer work (I belive those are correct, but not positive). So if your grades are lacking, but you have years of experience in health care and volunteer in your community, you can make up for it.

My best advise is to go to website of each school you wish to apply to, and the acceptance criteria is typically spelled out. If it's not, contact the advisor for that school and ask very specific questions if you aren't able to make it to the general info session that most hold which will usually provide everything you need.

As far as applying, do it to as many schools as possible and as many times as it takes. Some schools will tell you where you are lacking if you aren't accepted, others are not able to do so due to applicant volume. Some general things are to retake a science or pre-req course if you have a low grade and work to keep a high GPA, even if it means taking one less class a quarter. Find a place to get hands on experience that will set you apart from all other applicants. Being memorable is key when there are hundrends of applicants for only 80 or so spots. It's also important to get your letter of recommendation from a nurse who has observed you in a patient care setting. These are typically more powerful as they will be able to speak more directly about your ability to perform well as a nurse. Volunteer work is also key to some schools, and again the more the application reviewer will look and say "wow, that must have been a great experience", the better. I can understand this is difficult with a family, but don't get discouraged if it takes a while. I just read yesterday that over 125,000 qualified applicants were turned away from nursing programs last year, due to lack of space alone! Most people prepare for at least 2 or 3 years and doing so activly will help ensure you are a stand out candidate.

If you have any other questions, especially regarding the UW program requirements, let me know (post or PM) since that is the one I am most familiar with and I'll answer any questions I can.

Best of luck, I hope this helped! :)

WOW! Thanks Carissa, it sounds like I have a lot of work ahead of me. For the last five years I have really "only" been a mom so I am starting in the beginning. I will be going to a community college for my prerequisets and was thinking that I may have better chance of getting into a program in community college. I think community college is also much cheaper.

Summitk2

Specializes in CVICU, CCRN, now SRNA.

Unfortunately, there isn't 1 single characteristic to focus on. To be competitive (which it is here in the Seattle area), you need to have everything and you need to be strong in everything. You need volunteer or work experience with/around nurses. You need to have most prerequisite classes done, and you need to have good grades in them. You will also need a good overall GPA. You need community involvement experience. You need excellent recommendation letters. You need amazing application essays.

Once you have all these things, your application will quickly rise to the top and you will be accepted. This has been my experience, and I started at the bottom.

Best of luck!

Everyone has given you great advice and a very well rounded look at what it is like to get into Nursing School in Western Washington. I have found that though all the schools have SOME similar requirements (Chem, A&P, Micro) each school has one or two classes that is a unique requirment (example, Bellevue requires a specific Multicultural Communications class, Shoreline just wants {just about} any Multicultural class)

All the school's websites are fairly good, though some you have to contact the school to get their packet of info (Highline, for instance). Try to attend as many info sessions as possible, that is where you'll learn the most. If you don't have your questions answered by the info session, make an appointment with an advisior (Everett's info session is all about the Nursing profession and has almost zero to do with their program specifically...that was a waste of an afternoon for me).

Since you are just starting out, especially since you've been "only" a mom for 5-years (GIVE ME A BREAK....YOU KNOW HOW HARD THAT IS!!!) take it slow at first. It is quite an adjustment to start school again. Take only 1-2 classes at a time, at first. Take a Math Placement test to know where you stand there (unless you've already had College Calculus or Stats). Chem 101 or Bio 101 are good places to start...you'll want those out of the way before you get into some of the more difficult science classes.

If you can find the time, try to volunteer at a hospital a few hours per week. That will give you some hands on experiene (most schools strongly recommend, or require it, though Bellevue doesn't even consider volunteer work) Another suggestion is to get Nursing Assistant Certified. It is great experience and all the schools give bonus points for it.

Good luck to you! I just got my first REJECTION letter (I am so bummed! :angryfire ) It was from Shoreline...I had a 3.8 GPA in my classes, but I was lacking enough voluneer hours to make an impact. Now I am working on getting my NAC.

Tabitha

westcoastgirl

Has 10 years experience.

Everyone has alreay posted some great responses about what it takes to get in, so I'll just add a few things here in addition instead of repeating everything :chuckle

1. Do your own research into the programs, do not get discouraged by urban myths circulating as "generally accepted truths" amongst pre-nursing students.

2. Figure out which school you believe to be the best fit for you. After doing #1 I formed my own judgement of the programs :)

3. Focus your energies on applying to the "best fit" schools, few people can be "be everything to everyone" at once. For example I went to one of the top 5 public universities in the nation and held highly responsible jobs in the private sector. Schools that don't care where I got my undergrad or even that I have a BA don't "work in my favor". Along the same lines programs that give me the exact some # of points for non-healthcare work experience as they would to a burger-flipper don't "work in my favor" either. I wouldn't stand out in those cases. However that same system may be good for folks who do very well in their pre-req.s, don't have a BA, and have CNA/LPN work experience. Figure out your strengths, and focus energy to enhancing those, then apply to schools that would look favorably on your strenghs.

Good luck and your persistance will pay off!

Everyone has alreay posted some great responses about what it takes to get in, so I'll just add a few things here in addition instead of repeating everything :chuckle

1. Do your own research into the programs, do not get discouraged by urban myths circulating as "generally accepted truths" amongst pre-nursing students.

2. Figure out which school you believe to be the best fit for you. After doing #1 I formed my own judgement of the programs :)

3. Focus your energies on applying to the "best fit" schools, few people can be "be everything to everyone" at once. For example I went to one of the top 5 public universities in the nation and held highly responsible jobs in the private sector. Schools that don't care where I got my undergrad or even that I have a BA don't "work in my favor". Along the same lines programs that give me the exact some # of points for non-healthcare work experience as they would to a burger-flipper don't "work in my favor" either. I wouldn't stand out in those cases. However that same system may be good for folks who do very well in their pre-req.s, don't have a BA, and have CNA/LPN work experience. Figure out your strengths, and focus energy to enhancing those, then apply to schools that would look favorably on your strenghs.

Good luck and your persistance will pay off!

Westcoastgirl:

I am very impressed with your insights into the challenge of finding the right nursing school. Any pre-nursing student would benefit greatly from this advice. I especially appreciate the "work in your favor" section. My #1 choice for school is one of those that give the same points for the burger-flipper as they do for my nearly 10-years in management positions (Guess who!!) If I had thought as stratigically as you have, I may have been in school by now!

Tabitha

Summitk2

Specializes in CVICU, CCRN, now SRNA.

I'm wondering if there are other repeat-applicants to UW who are again licking their wounds of rejection right now (?)

I was bummed but also invigorated last year after being rejected by UW. I knew I was short on classes and experience, so I hit the classrooms and hospitals with the determination of getting into UW the next go-round.

Over the next year, I finished all my prerequisites with a 4.0 in both A&Ps and a 3.8 in Micro (3.86 total science GPA). I gained over 400 hours of volunteer experience in 2 local hospitals with a raving recommendation from one of the charge nurses (exp. was in an ED and a PACU). I left my career to devote myself full-time towards the goal of getting into nursing school. I'm a well-balanced person with caring and goal-oriented values. I'm a male, which I thought might help.

I also learned about accelerated BSN programs in other states for post-bacc students, so I applied to 6 of these programs as well as UW (WA has no accelerated BSN programs). I was accepted to all 6 accelerated programs, some where I competed with up to 1,000 other applicants. I was rejected again by UW.

While I'm a little disappointed, I'm also happy that I'll be attending Johns Hopkins, which will have a lovely appearance on my CV when applying to jobs and grad school. I have a relative who used to work for the WA state board of higher education, and he said that I just don't have the right skin color for UW's nursing school (I'm white).

Are there other people out there who thought they would get into UW because of a strong profile, but didn't? I'm trying to hold my head up high and remember that when people ask from which institution this great nurse acquired their education, it will be JHU, not UW!

I'm wondering if there are other repeat-applicants to UW who are again licking their wounds of rejection right now (?)

Over the next year, I finished all my prerequisites with a 4.0 in both A&Ps and a 3.8 in Micro (3.86 total science GPA). I gained over 400 hours of volunteer experience in 2 local hospitals with a raving recommendation from one of the charge nurses (exp. was in an ED and a PACU). I left my career to devote myself full-time towards the goal of getting into nursing school. I'm a well-balanced person with caring and goal-oriented values. I'm a male, which I thought might help.

I also learned about accelerated BSN programs in other states for post-bacc students, so I applied to 6 of these programs as well as UW (WA has no accelerated BSN programs). I was accepted to all 6 accelerated programs, some where I competed with up to 1,000 other applicants. I was rejected again by UW.

While I'm a little disappointed, I'm also happy that I'll be attending Johns Hopkins, which will have a lovely appearance on my CV when applying to jobs and grad school. I have a relative who used to work for the WA state board of higher education, and he said that I just don't have the right skin color for UW's nursing school (I'm white).

Are there other people out there who thought they would get into UW because of a strong profile, but didn't? I'm trying to hold my head up high and remember that when people ask from which institution this great nurse acquired their education, it will be JHU, not UW!

For the UW, did you apply for the BSN only or their MEPN program? If it was the latter, then there was one more factor you needed to consider: the focus area you chose on your application. If you chose FNP, ANP or mid-wifery, those were the more "popular" slots. So you would be competiing with more highly qualified candidates. There only have 20 slots at the UW which is far less than Hopkins with 150 slots. (Don't get me wrong; they are both highly competitive schools to get into!) There may only be 3 - 4 slots for FNP, so the odds would be stacked against you, no matter how stellar your grades.

Congrats on getting accepted at Hopkins! :balloons:

Smile123

Hi Everybody! I have read many threads here and I think the advice is just great so I thought I would add my question here as well.

I am very interested in becoming a nurse but I am quite confused what it takes to get into a nursing school. I know everybody needs to have their pre-requisets but beyond that what is a determining factor?

I keep hearing these stories how difficult it is. One of my friends who is a nurse told about a woman she knows who has tried to get into a nursing school in many different places in Washington Tacoma, Shoreline and Everett to name few but hasn't had any success. The weird thing about it was that supposingly this person has gotten all A's in her pre-requisets and has previous experience. Since she hasn't had any luck here she is going to another state for a nursing school.

I think it is great that she has an option of going to another state for a school. That is really not an option for me since I am married and have kids so I need to stay here and try to get into a school here.

I also have attended in nursing advising sessions and in one of them an advisor said that if a person gets 3.0 and better on all the prerequisets it is pretty much guaranteed that they will be accepted to a nursing program.

So please do advice me what is REALLY required of a person? What is it that they are looking for in candidates? I also know that in some colleges (Everett, Shoreline) you can apply several times a year. How many times should one person try to apply to one college? When trying to get into a school does a past excperience help or is not really a factor?

I personally don't have any experience but I am considering becoming a CNA since I thought it might be helpful.

Any advice would be appreciated!

Seattle Central Community College is the only program in Western Washington that is first come first. In the fall on the first day you can sign up if you line up and get their early in the morning I.E 2am you line up and if you have a number below 40 and below you more than likely will be accepted--Make sure you submit all your transcripts at least a month in advance and have attended an orientation and talked to an advisor before lining up on the first day. I have heard through the grapevine that the school has a poor reputation--They are on warning and may loose their accred's. Shoreline Community College has an excellent reputation and the process is very clear. It is very competitive and the highest scores get in. You have to have 114++ to get accepted. Highline has a great program and if you have good grades and do a nice job on their essay you stand a good chance to get in. Bellevue has a reputation that you have to have 4.0 to get in and have some goofy math requirements. Tacoma you would need to be a student there to begin with since they have a 3 anatomy series that they use points for to get in. Hope this helps

Seattle Central Community College is the only program in Western Washington that is first come first. In the fall on the first day you can sign up if you line up and get their early in the morning I.E 2am you line up and if you have a number below 40 and below you more than likely will be accepted--Make sure you submit all your transcripts at least a month in advance and have attended an orientation and talked to an advisor before lining up on the first day. I have heard through the grapevine that the school has a poor reputation--They are on warning and may loose their accred's. Shoreline Community College has an excellent reputation and the process is very clear. It is very competitive and the highest scores get in. You have to have 114++ to get accepted. Highline has a great program and if you have good grades and do a nice job on their essay you stand a good chance to get in. Bellevue has a reputation that you have to have 4.0 to get in and have some goofy math requirements. Tacoma you would need to be a student there to begin with since they have a 3 anatomy series that they use points for to get in. Hope this helps

I encourage you to get your CNA. I did and it really helps with your comfort level . I encourage you to apply to all the colleges that you are qualified for which is a hard, confusing and tough process. Get good grades on your prereq's. I don't know about Everett but Shoreline has 3 entrance points each year and you can apply during those times.

hi im in the sw washington area, and schools are very competitive in our area. my school was strictly gpa based with a higher point weight to science gpa. pretty much you have to have aobut 3.5 or above ave gpa and 3.5 or above ave science gpa to get in. CNA training is now required in a lot of the schools.

I'm wondering if there are other repeat-applicants to UW who are again licking their wounds of rejection right now (?)

I was bummed but also invigorated last year after being rejected by UW. I knew I was short on classes and experience, so I hit the classrooms and hospitals with the determination of getting into UW the next go-round.

Over the next year, I finished all my prerequisites with a 4.0 in both A&Ps and a 3.8 in Micro (3.86 total science GPA). I gained over 400 hours of volunteer experience in 2 local hospitals with a raving recommendation from one of the charge nurses (exp. was in an ED and a PACU). I left my career to devote myself full-time towards the goal of getting into nursing school. I'm a well-balanced person with caring and goal-oriented values. I'm a male, which I thought might help.

I also learned about accelerated BSN programs in other states for post-bacc students, so I applied to 6 of these programs as well as UW (WA has no accelerated BSN programs). I was accepted to all 6 accelerated programs, some where I competed with up to 1,000 other applicants. I was rejected again by UW.

While I'm a little disappointed, I'm also happy that I'll be attending Johns Hopkins, which will have a lovely appearance on my CV when applying to jobs and grad school. I have a relative who used to work for the WA state board of higher education, and he said that I just don't have the right skin color for UW's nursing school (I'm white).

Are there other people out there who thought they would get into UW because of a strong profile, but didn't? I'm trying to hold my head up high and remember that when people ask from which institution this great nurse acquired their education, it will be JHU, not UW!

The majority of schools in WA state, especially Seattle really likes to have students be able to attest and contribute to diversity. It really doesn't have so much to do with skin color. I have known a hand full of people that are white that have gotten into the UW. They have volunteer experience in working in Africa on HIV prevention and working hands on experience with diverse and VERY DIFFICULT populations. I have a friend in the Nursing Admissions department that reads application statements and this is what she tells me.

Icess64

Specializes in Medical Telemetry.

Everyone has posted some good advice, and they are all right when they say that every school is different. Mine gets about 500-600 applicants a year but they only accept 50. I got in the first time because I worked my butt off and I had no delusions about the difficulty of getting in!

This may or may not be the same depending on which school you choose, but for my school they have a very specific list of classes you have to take (44 credits to be exact). They put your applications in piles...those who have 44 credits, those who have 43 credits and so on. Out of those who have 44 credits, they look at grades, prior nursing experience, and things like that. Then they move down to the pile of people who have 43 credits and do the same process.

If you have all your classes done, good grades and some prior experience ( I became a nursing assistant prior to applying) your chances should be pretty good. Maybe not the first time, but eventually you'll get in if you are trying as hard as it sounds you will! Good luck!

Icess64

Specializes in Medical Telemetry.

Bellevue has a reputation that you have to have 4.0 to get in and have some goofy math requirements.

I got in to Bellevue, and I had a 3.69, not a 4.0. I didn't have to take any goofy math classes, just math 099 (intermediate algebra), which I think is standard--or you can assess out of math entirely.

The big issue with Bellevue, is that you have to have 44 credits of very specific classes, and good grades in those classes, but not necessarily a 4.0. It also helps to have some kind of prior experience...i.e. you get points for being a CNA, EMT or other things in that area.

I guess that just goes to show that you should find out from the school itself what their requirements are, not just what people say about them. Second-hand info should always be taken with a grain of salt.

thida

Has 8 years experience.

Hello!

In my experience, every nursing school has different specific criteria for acceptance. Some are based only on GPA, they start at 4.0 and go down the list until the spots are filled. Others, such at the Univ. of Washington program are looking for the "well-rounded" canidate. Their application points are divided into 5 20% sections: gpa, letter of recommendation, resume, hands on health care experience, and volunteer work (I belive those are correct, but not positive). So if your grades are lacking, but you have years of experience in health care and volunteer in your community, you can make up for it.

My best advise is to go to website of each school you wish to apply to, and the acceptance criteria is typically spelled out. If it's not, contact the advisor for that school and ask very specific questions if you aren't able to make it to the general info session that most hold which will usually provide everything you need.

As far as applying, do it to as many schools as possible and as many times as it takes. Some schools will tell you where you are lacking if you aren't accepted, others are not able to do so due to applicant volume. Some general things are to retake a science or pre-req course if you have a low grade and work to keep a high GPA, even if it means taking one less class a quarter. Find a place to get hands on experience that will set you apart from all other applicants. Being memorable is key when there are hundrends of applicants for only 80 or so spots. It's also important to get your letter of recommendation from a nurse who has observed you in a patient care setting. These are typically more powerful as they will be able to speak more directly about your ability to perform well as a nurse. Volunteer work is also key to some schools, and again the more the application reviewer will look and say "wow, that must have been a great experience", the better. I can understand this is difficult with a family, but don't get discouraged if it takes a while. I just read yesterday that over 125,000 qualified applicants were turned away from nursing programs last year, due to lack of space alone! Most people prepare for at least 2 or 3 years and doing so activly will help ensure you are a stand out candidate.

If you have any other questions, especially regarding the UW program requirements, let me know (post or PM) since that is the one I am most familiar with and I'll answer any questions I can.

Best of luck, I hope this helped! :)

-------------------------------------------------

Carissa, did you get accepted in the nursing program at UW? Are you in already? Can you please give me some insights/advices regarding the Proctored Essay requirement?

Thanks in advance!

algebra_demystified

Has 3 years experience. Specializes in Forensic Psychiatric Nursing.

Here's my .02 on the matter. Every school is absolutely ridiculous to get into for one reason or another. Bottom line is they get tons of applications for a few spots and they have to have some way to select. There's no way around it.

Some schools line up, some do lotteries, some stack by GPA, it's different at every school. It's tough.

The school I got into has a lottery and apparently they choose who goes into the lottery. If they get 750 apps for 48 spots they drop the bottom half of GPA's, down to 375. Did you do any volunteer work OR have any experience? Down to 200. Did you repeat any classwork? Down to 175. Do you live in the area? Down to 100. OK, throw those 100 in the lottery and draw 48 names.

So it's probably smart to put as many points on the board as you can in all different areas, and apply to as many schools as you think you could reasonably commute to. I would commute for 3 hours a day, that was my limit, so I applied to all schools within an hour and a half drive of my home.

I am very lucky that I got into one on the first try. 3.2 GPA, some experience, no volunteer stuff... couldn't tell you why they pulled my number but I'm not asking any questions.

PACNWNURSING

Specializes in Emergency Room.

the problem with the whole process of trying to get into a nursing program is there is no set standard, each school has a different requirement for getting into their particular program. if they would make a national requirement set standard such as for medical schools. people could then apply to as many nursing programs as they want without worrying about taking yet another prequesite class. i suspect half of the people applying do not even want to be nurses, but they have choice because there are no other jobs. i am 42, and i am quite frustrated with having to wait 2-3 years just to get into an rn program.... best of luck to everyone, to all who finally made it into a program congratulations !!:)

my sister just got in to nursing school and this is what she did

had a 3.2 gpa on her pres

bought rosestta stone and learned spanish

gave her time to an aids hospice

and was working as an cna

so i guess it is possible but im not at that point yet

Not sure what else I can add except my experience:

I have considered pursuing nursing for several years now but felt pretty intimidated by all the stories I had heard about how hard it is to get into AA programs (Shoreline, Everett, Bellevue, etc) so I sat on it for a long time.

A few years ago, having renewed my determination and getting encouragement from friends, I decided to apply to a university with the hopes of earning a BSN. I chose to take all of my pre-req's there and, yes the tuition is steep, but I qualify for more financial aid as a result and the school has generous scholarships available.

I took all of my classes here, volunteered at a hospital (with people who were applying to Shoreline and said they needed minimum 200+ volunteer hours ), and applied last February. In addition to a minimum 3.0 GPA, essay, and recommendations, this school also requires you to pass the TEAS test with a minimum score of 80/100 before they will even consider your application. Turns out that was a deciding factor for some of my friends. I had one who had excellent grades but struggled on the English portion of the TEAS because she is from the Philippines. (She is applying again for this year).

I guess my advice is find the place that's mission/vision statement matches yours, throroughly research all they require and begin your journey.

I am not sure what your spiritual beliefs are, but I tended to look at my journey as being whatever God's plan was for me. If He wanted me to be a nurse, then I would get in and if I didn't, I would have needed to reexamine things for myself.

Okay, not to be a downer, but I did get in and am now in my second semester of Junior year. Guess what? Getting in is just the beginning but the same determination you are using to get into Nursing school should be enough to see you through it.

Hang in there!

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