How do I know what tier schools to target?

by Colonel Sandbag Colonel Sandbag (New) New Pre-Student

Specializes in health policy & bioethics.

Hey All,

I'm looking to become a nurse practitioner and I'm expecting to apply to direct-entry masters or DNP programs as well as a few ABSN programs (so that I could jump to DNP at the same school) but I'm having a hard time figuring out where I'm competitive. Can I enlist you to help me understand?

For background: I'm in my early 30s, I manage a small team at my state's medicaid agency, I have a master's degree in bioethics, and I've been published numerous times as a bioethics and health policy researcher.

My "stats" seem average to me:

  1. Undergrad GPA = 3.2 overall, 3.4 in my bio major (not great but my degree is from a top 15 liberal arts college)
  2. My GRE scores were 97th %ile for verbal, 73rd for quant, and 60th for writing
  3. I have around 200 hours of clinical & clinical-ish experience including patient visiting on med surg and cardiac floors, shadowing PCPs, and volunteering in a rock climbing group for people with disabilities.

But I feel like I might stand out in other ways:

  1. I have a graduate degree in bioethics (3.8 GPA).
  2. I've been published ~10 times in peer-reviewed and non-reviewed fora (JAMA, Health Affairs Blog, a few other places).
  3. In my job I'm responsible for evaluating the performance of population health management & care management programming.
  4. I have a lot of first-hand experience as a patient in virtue of having a disability which motivates my desire to be an NP...
  5. I took the MCAT three years ago and I got 97th percentile, but I don't know if that matters.

Can you guys help me understand where I stand? Am I an average applicant? A strong one? Do certain schools take a more holistic approach in evaluating candidates? Would I benefit from focusing on those?

My dream school is University of Washington but I'm also really interested in the MGH program, the Yale GEPN program, and potentially UPenn. I haven't taken some of the nursing prereqs like A&P, psych or nutrition, so I would be applying without those...

Thank you so much to anyone who lends input!

Edited by Colonel Sandbag

Aileen 123

3 Posts

I wouldn't say I'm an authority on this, but I think you should go for it ?

Aileen 123

3 Posts

4 minutes ago, Aileen 123 said:

I wouldn't say I'm an authority on this, but I think you should go for it ?

Sent too early ? Anyways, I think you should go for it and apply to your dream school.

Colonel Sandbag

Colonel Sandbag

Specializes in health policy & bioethics. 2 Posts

? I'm gonna. ?


llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 45 years experience. 13,469 Posts

Apply to your dream school -- and maybe 1 or 2 others that you consider to be your top choices regardless of their prestige.

Then, to feels safe, apply to 1 or 2 "safe schools" that you feel confident you will get into.

That's pretty much what most high school senior do. There is no reason not to do the same.