Newbie with some questions about LVN school

  1. Hi! I am a newbie! I'm 34 and I have a business/HR background. I recently got laid off so I decided to go back to school. I've always wanted to be a nurse but always felt intimidated by science classes. Now that I'm older I guess those fears have passed because I really want to get into nursing and start this career.

    Anyway, I decided to go with the LVN route for now and bridge to an RN or BSN program later on. I already have an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts and figured becoming an LVN would give me the best chance to get my feet wet and see how it feels to be in the nursing field. I looked into community college LVN programs and found that they were all impacted -- waiting lists for all! I'm unemployed and need to work within the next year or so (that's the time frame I'm giving myself based on my financial situation right now). I was pretty discouraged but then a friend of mine suggested I look into private colleges. It is known fact that private schools will always cost more, but there are pros and cons to everything so I decided to check it out.

    I went to Western Career College, Unitek, and Institute for Medical Education. Out of all 3, WCC costs the most $$$, but it is also WASC accredited and offers financial aid. I would also qualify for grants which would knock off a good portion of the tuition. The dummies/lab are up-to-date, and it seems as if they are more selective about their admissions process. Unitek campus is nice and in a great location, but the school is not accredited, and they don't offer any type of financial aid other than Sallie Mae private loans with ridiculous interest rates! IME is WASC accredited and offers financial aid but the SJ campus is a joke and their lab looks like something out of the 1960s (think old office that they tried to turn into a school). The counselor also told me they could have from 30-50 LVN students at a time (for ONE instructor). The only good thing about IME is the schedule runs from 9a-1pm M-F which is convenient for those with kids.

    So I took the entrance exam for WCC and Unitek and passed both since they gave the same CPAT test. WCC, however, also had me take the HESI A2 exam and write a 250word essay about my long-term goals and why I wanted to become a nurse. WCC's was free, Unitek charged me $20 for the CPAT (me and 20 other applicants!). I didn't take the IME exam yet but based on the handout the counselor gave me it looks like basic HS level stuff (nothing at all like the CPAT or HESI A2 which kinda makes me wonder, really!).

    Anyway, I noticed some negative posts about these private schools, but are they really as bad as some say? I can get past the ridiculous price tags for many reasons (I'm a single mom, no time to waste, need to work ASAP, I'm getting older). I would really like to hear from anyone that actually went to any of these schools, graduated, and are working. What was your experience like? How were the instructors? Were you well-prepared for the NCLEX-PN? We all know our education is what we make of it, and I think I'm a pretty good student and have great study habits. I just need to know which program can offer the most.

    Thanks in advance to anyone that replies!
    Last edit by goodjuju on May 16, '09
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    About goodjuju

    Joined: May '09; Posts: 1

    4 Comments

  3. by   TheCommuter
    I attended an LVN program at a private trade school in Southern California in 2005, and had no major issues. I was able to pass boards and attain licensure as an LVN, so the school did serve its purpose.

    However, beware of the job market in California. Many nurses, especially new LVNs, are encountering difficulties finding work after graduation. It would be a travesty to spend all that money to become an LVN, only to find that you cannot land a job. Good luck to you.
  4. by   GeauxNursing
    Yes, everything Commuter said. I had a program that was T/TH nights and all day Saturday for 16 months.
    It got the job done! It was the only option for me, since I had to work full-time AND pursue my goal. You pay for the convenience. And it was pretty convenient!
  5. by   caliotter3
    Noted from your post that you seem to be in the south Bay area. Be aware that the job market for LVNs is very poor in that area. You are wise to get an LVN license to get into an LVN to RN program, but don't rely on being able to find work as an LVN once you graduate. You may have to relocate.
  6. by   clinicalteach
    Please check your BVNPT for nclex pass rates, and any investigatioins into the school. Due to my being employed by one of these for profit schools you mentioned, and i don't want to get fired, that is my suggestion. i went to a vocational/for profit school and had an amazing group of instructors and clinical experiences. each school is different. Just as with life, there are some good some bad. Look at your entrance requirements and i'd use that as a basis to start your evaluation.

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