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How do I begin my nursing education??


Hello Everyone :)

I am 18 years old, and I just recently graduated from High School. I have been interested in nursing for over a year now, but did not begin any type of research until second semester of Senior Year. In High School, I was very adamant about graduating first before thinking of college because I was failing a class and had to take before and after school tutoring which paid off in the end :) Now that High School is over, I want to go to college to study nursing, but everything is just so confusing for me. I've searched YouTube in hopes of someone taking their time to explain to me (I'm a visual learner) and I've tried reading blogs and using Google as a tool as well. Now that it is Fall of 2014, I want to start school as soon as possible in the winter, and I don't know if that means community college or University. I read a lot of forums about ADN vs BSN and I decided that BSN would be the best for me since it is recommended/required. But I have trouble understanding which comes first? Is it BSN-RN or RN-BSN? I don't want to make the mistake of applying to the wrong schools. If anyone can help me make any sense of it all, I would greatly appreciate your input and your time. Thank you! :)


Specializes in Public Health. Has 4 years experience.

Apply to a four year college or university that offers a BSN program. Meet with an advisor there and do what they tell you. Try to avoid private for profit schools. Don't rush yourself, you will regret it.

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 44 years experience.

To try to clear things up a bit for you ...

RN is not an academic degree that you get from a school. It is a license to practice nursing that the state gives you after you pass a test called the NCLEX-RN. Several different types of educational programs can prepare you take the NCLEX-RN and get a nursing license. You have to be a graduate of one of those programs to be allowed to take the test.

Common Option #1: BSN degree (Bachelor of Science in Nursing). These programs are usually offered by 4-year colleges. Many employers prefer to hire BSN graduates as those students get a broad-based education in a variety of topics that prepare them to successfully manage a wide range of situations that may come up in nursing. Most BSN programs also include courses on nursing research, nursing leadership, community health, etc. -- some of which might not be taught in other types of programs.

Common Option #2: ADN at a Community College (Associate Degree of Nursing). These programs generally take 2 years or slightly longer (assuming you attend school full time). Because they are offered at community colleges, they are usually far cheaper than a 4-year BSN. They also are shorter programs, and require fewer courses. Graduates of ADN programs currently take the same NCLEC-RN exam and get the same RN license. But they may be limited in their job choices as some employers prefer BSN nurses and will have fewer opportunities for career advancement. Many nurses start their careers with an ADN, begin working an entry-level job, and then go back to school part time to complete their BSN's. That is a good option if you live in an area where employers are still hiring a lot of ADN grads ... but it is not a good idea if you live in an area where ADN grads struggle to find a decent job.

Common Option #3: ADN degrees offered by "for-profit" companies. These are schools that are owned by businesses, who offer educational programs to make a profit. They are not necessarily bad, but there have been many such schools that have charged students extraordinarily high prices for programs that are of lesser quality than the programs run by schools/colleges that are non-profit, existing for the benefit of the community and not for the purpose of making a profit for the owners of the company. Be careful if you consider any of these schools. Some have very bad reputations and their graduates struggle to find good jobs -- and sometimes end up with huge amounts of student loan debt to pay back because they are so expensive. Sometimes people choose to go to such programs because they are desperate to get into a program and have been unsuccessful trying to get accepted by the more traditional educational institutions -- or because they don't want to be on a waiting list -- or because the for-profit school offers classes at times more convenient for them.

Common Options #4: A lot of BSN programs will accept students into their nursing programs in their sophomore or junior year of college. The students take the first year or two of college courses at their local community college ... then apply to the nursing program of a 4-year university to complete their BSN's. That often works well as those first 2 years of "general education" courses can be taken on a part time basis at a local community college (cheaper) while the student works and saves up some money.

My advice is to meet with the major schools in your area -- review their requirements -- costs -- etc. and decide which one fits your needs the best.

Good luck!


Specializes in Pediatrics. Has 1 years experience.

I am going to community college right now to get my pre-reqs done (non-nursing classes that have to be done with complete a 4-year bach degree) and then will be applying at a university to enter into their 2 year nursing program to get my BSN. The first 2 years are basically just general classes, then the 3rd and 4th years are nursing school. This is pretty standard across the board. You can always do all 4 years at the same place (a university) but that general classes are cheaper at a community college!

Thank you everyone for your feedback! SlinkyheadRN I agree with not going to Private school, and thank you llg for detailing my options. I believe I would have to go with Option 4 just as SeasideGinger also suggested. So then, the first two years of community college are your Associates of Science in Nursing? And with completion of another 2 years at a University, becomes Bachelor's of Science in Nursing? What then is the difference between ADN and ASN?

You finish all your prereqs first. You could start at the associates program(also at a cc)be done in 2 years and then do the RN to BSN program which is another 2 to 2.5 years. You could also apply straight into the BSN program after completing the prereqs and taking a test if they require it.

i don't think there's a big difference between adn and ASN. ASN is associates in science of nursing. it's just named differently by different programs.

Just a heads up though, applying straight for the BSN program at state schools and universities will be competitive. These also seem to be the very popular option out of the many routes you could choose from.

Okay, so let me see if I got this. So I go to community college to go for my CNA (certified nursing assistant), then begin my associates through community college for 2 years to get my ASN/ADN. From there, I transfer to a University for another 2 years to get my BSN. Am I on the right track so far? From there I graduate with my Bachelor's and can begin working as a BSN at a hospital. (with the option of advancing to my Master's later on) How does this sound?

You spend your time at the CC getting your prerequisites done. Like English comp and what ever sciences are required. You may graduate with a general studies degree from that CC. But it is not required. You will not have a nursing degree. The CC may have a nursing program. If you go to that program, you would complete that nursing program and graduate with an associate degree of nursing. And ADN.

Or once you finish your preqs, you apply to a BSN program and go to that school and if you get in you would graduate with a bachelors in nursing. A BSN.

Whether you need a CNA certification is dependent on whether or not it is required by the schools you have identified as your target schools.

Best bet. Make an appointment with a college advisor and let them know what you want to do. They can help map out a degree plan.

Runsalot makes good points. I'd like to add that you could also check the website of nursing programs you're interested in attending to see what they actually require for admission.