Need help about my acceptance odds, am very confused about several things!

Nursing Students General Students

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Hi everyone,

I've been following this forum for awhile but this is my first post, so be kind.

I am a 33-year-old stay-home mom of a 5 year old and 22-month-old triplets. I have a BS in Computer Science from Tufts University. I worked in the field for a number of years, but should never have gone into it; I am good at it and was able to get my job done, but my days dragged, I didn't enjoy the job, and basically watched the clock all day long. When I became pregnant with my first child it was already decided that I would stay home with him, as my husband makes far more than I do (he's also in to computers (network security), but he actually loves it and lives for it. Actually, that's how we met - he was my teacher's assistant for Comp 101, sophomore year. I got lots of extra help. :blushkiss

Ahem. In any case, if I could do it over again, I would have gone into medicine, probably tried for medical school, but I was 19 and confused and under pressure to pick a major that would make my parents happy. So I did.

Now, however, my children are starting school (my oldest) and in 4 years, my other 3 will start. We have sent the oldest to private school for various reasons, and feel that we will probably send the triplets there too. It is pricey but worth the cost. We can afford to send one on my husband's salary, (barely), but not 4.

I knew I was going to go back to school, and I have definitely decided on nursing; I'm not locked into a decision on a specialty but know that there are 3 that most interest me.

ANYWAY, I decided to take a class before committing to a program. Our local community college, Northern Essex Community College in Massachusetts, right on the NH line, has both a day and evening nursing program; you graduate with a LPN and can sit for the RN licensure. My plan was then to continue on and switch into a LPN->BS program where I could get my bachelor's. I don't have the ability right now to do a full-time, intensive program for direct-entry candidates like me who already have a B.S. in another area. Plus they are in Boston and a long drive from me.

In any case, I was planning on taking anatomy and physiology I this fall and II in the spring; I have been told (and am finding out) that these are the hardest classes, and I figured if I could get through these I'd get through nursing school. So far so good; I'm doing well, and I really enjoy the class, even though it's just once a week from 8-12:30 on Saturday mornings.

Here's my new problem: I just sort of assumed that since it was a local community college, that with my previous degree, good SAT scores (from a long time ago, etc.), that I wouldn't have any problem getting into the nursing program in the fall of 2006. However I was talking to another girl in my class who is doing the exact same thing as I am, and she told me that there have already been 500 applicants for 80 spots in next years' program. I had no idea it would be that competitive. I am going to make an appointment ASAP to meet with an advisor at the school, but I wanted to solicit advice from you all:

1. Has anyone here done the NECC program, and is it really as competitive as this girl said to get into? I have the standard problem of career-changers; I haven't worked in 7 years, or been to school in 12 years, so I have no recommendations except for those that I could potentially get from the teacher of the class I am taking this year (although the application is due in January).

2. Is this typical? I knew that the higher level masters' programs were competitive, especially programs like CNA and things like that, but with a huge nursing shortage I thought that they'd be actively recruiting people into nursing school, not making it difficult to get the training?

3. As far as recommendations, what have other people done who go back to nursing school after not having worked or gone to school for many years? I can possibly get one from my A&P teacher if I do extremely well and make myself known and ask quesitons, etc. He is a great teacher, though tough, and I think a recommendation from him would go far. But they require THREE. How much would a work recommendation from a different field that is 12 years old go? I don't even remember my professors' names, from college, so that's not an option.

Any advice or help would be appreciated. This is scary and new for me, as well as exciting; I have 4 children that I need to be able to send to school, and if I am able to be working in 4 years, it won't be a problem; if they weren't going to private school I could take my time but that's not an option as the public schools are not great in our otherwise nice town, especially for kids who are a little "different" but don't qualify for special needs help; my son is very high-functioning Asperger's but doesn't meet the criteria for help and my baby son is showing signs of it as well, at almost 2. This private school is very small, with a great teacher-student ratio, and an appreciation of the child as a whole, not just a cookie-cutter, as our public schools are. So far my older son is HAPPY in school for the first time in 3 years of preschool and kindergarten. He is very bright but socially awkward and immature and I knew he would be lost in public.

Sorry to ramble on so long, but hearing those numbers just made my stomach sink like lead; I had been sort of "counting" on getting in, maybe because it was a community college, and I have a degree from a very good school already, etc. However without good recommendations, what do I do?

Having finally gotten a game plan for "the rest of my life" in place, this has thrown a big monkey wrench in everything and I'm slightly panicky; I can't take the time to take classes or do relevant work experience for a couple of years, as I (a) have to take care of my triplets while they are this young, plus drive my son to/from school; (b) can't afford babysitting; that is why the evening and weekend program they offer is just so perfect!

Why is it so hard? Aren't they desperate for nurses? Then hire more teachers!! Spend money on education instead of... well, let's not go there.

Hope to hear from anyone, *especially* anyone who may have gone to NECC (Northern Essex Community College).

Thanks! I love this board, I think I'll be here for a long time.

Karen

Specializes in NICU.

Hi Karen! Welcome to the posting side :) Wow triplets! Bless you! Your hands and heart must be so full :) I'm 32 and was in a similar situation as you when I went back to school last year - had been a SAHM for many years, grad in 1991. I've got three kids (four counting my hubby LOL) aged 12, 7, and 3 and most days I can't remember my name, I'm so frazzled LOL I admire you! I'll try to answer some of your questions but excuse me if I am all over the place - I've got ADD :)

As far as the nursing shortage, the biggest issue is lack of training spots available due to funding as well as lack of teachers.

I don't know about competetiveness at that particular school. You should call the school and ask how it works. Some schools (like mine) have a waiting list. Once you qualify for the program, you pay a list fee and then you just wait. I took advantage of the wait 4 semesters) by taking all of my non-nursing classes. Let me tell you, I am so glad I got those out of the way. I couldn't imagine taking any other classes right now other than my nursing classes.

Other schools don't have a lottery and just take the cream of the crop of applicants each semester (or more - some schools, like mine, only accept new applicants once per year). I think those are far harder to get into. But not impossible. If your SAT scores and transcripts were good, you have a good chance of getting in regardless of who else is applying.

As far as recommendations, I got one from my pastor since I didn't have enough teacher or professional sources at the time. Your school may accept those - schools generally like non-traditional (older ;)) students like us, and will try to accomodate them in these situations.

Would it be so horrible if you had to wait a while? I totally understand your issues with the school situation and commend you for wanting to do whatever is possible to give your children the best possible education. Certainly the private school gives discounts for multiple children from the same household? You may need to send the triplets to public kindergarten if you have to wait a bit for your schooling, but then can start up the private school in first grade? Just a thought.

Anyway good luck to you - my dinner is ready - got to go feed the restless kids :)

The number of applicants is simmiliar here. However, don't let that number fool you. I talked to an academic adviser last summer and the GPA cuttoff in the biololgy prereq classes (gen biol, A&P 1 and 2, Microbiol) was around 3.3 for this years nursing class. Check with your school and see what they look for. You might be surprised to find out that the GPA's are not that high.

Specializes in ICU,Oncology,School,.

Karen,

Glad to have you here :p

I am also a stay at home mom of four kids. (14, 11, 8, & 3.) I started taking pre-reqs last spring for the ASN program at our local community college. I have another degree in Communications, but would need a master's to really do anything with it. Plus, it's just not that interesting! I always wanted to be in the medical field, so I took this as my opportunity.

As far as what administrators look for, they go strictly on GPA at my school. Like you, it's pretty much my only option since I have family obligations & don't want to travel. I will apply for this fall, so I am trying really hard to keep my gpa up. I have a 3.77, but I don't know if that will get me in or not. A big part of the problem is the lack of faculty. The reason the gpa is getting pushed up so high is because the competition for spots is fierce. In my program alone, they cut from an original 79 slots to 65 last year to the 40 they will accept for this fall. Last year, they had over 200 applicants for the 65 available. Not very good odds for those of us without a perfect 4.0.

Anyway, I just wanted to say good luck to you. I will have to apply in Feb. for this fall, so I am keeping my fingers crossed. My counselor said it's always a good idea to have a backup plan, so mine is applying for the BSN if I don't get into the ASN program. It would mean two additional math classes that I really, really, really (can you tell I don't like math??) don't want to take, but I will if necessary.

Best wishes,

Heather

I believe the bottleneck problem is due largely to the pool of teaching candidates. Why would a RN making 60k a year choose to teach for 35k a year? They must REALLY love to teach.

As others have said, while there is a nursing shortage there is also a shortage of nursing instructors. You generally have to have an MSN and those that do have this would make far, far less teaching than they would if they practiced at a hospital. From my experience, speaking to an advisor would be the absolute best thing to do. I have a BS from an area university in 2003 and I applied twice to a community college nursing program and was turned down each time. I had no idea why i was turned down as my grades at the university were fine, so I went to talk with an advisor. He hadn't a clue so he phoned the head of the nursing program to talk with me. The head of the nursing program had no idea either why i wasn't getting accepted into the program so she phoned the nursing coordinator/scorer who is on the team who determines who gets in and who doesn't. The scorer called me back a few hours later to let me know that even though I had a bachelor's, I still needed 15 hours of classes taken at that particular community college before I would be considered! (Weird quirk) Luckily the summer session 2004 was just about to start so I added on a few random classes like speech and chemistry to get my hours up, and lo and behold I was accepted for Spring 2005.

In the mean time I took prereqs: anatomy/physiology I and II, psych, sociology, and micro. About the difficulty of the A&P classes: it really depends on the person, teacher, and class. I had an amazingly dedicated and talented A&PI professor, and there was a study guide that was fabulous that the class used. I simply loved every minute of that class! A&PII had the wonderful study guide again and a good teacher as well so I loved that class and thrived in it too ;) This current semester's nursing courses seems quite different than the previous semesters, however. It is difficult and a good portion of the class has been failing the quizzes, so, to me, nursing school is harder than A&P.

But! I am sure that you will get a lot out of the meeting with the advisor. Just ask them what you can do to ensure that you will get into nursing school and they should be able to tell you, or get you that 'in' to the higher ups in the nursing program to find out about the quirks of the system & what they really look for.

good luck and welcome to the board!

you graduate with a LPN and can sit for the RN licensure. My plan was then to continue on and switch into a LPN->BS program where I could get my bachelor's.

If you will graduate with LPN, you'll have to sit for LPN license. To get you RN, you'll need to go to school for another year.

Good luck!

Sorry, I made a typo. I will be graduating with an ASN , not an LPN, and then can sit for my RN license.

Thanks

Karen

Although not from your area, I found myself in a very similar situation (without triplets!!!) I have a degree from a top 25 Uni, and wanted to go into nursing.

I'll try to answer the questions...

Yes, this is typical, in general the community colleges are less expensive, so you will see high numbers of applicants to programs like nursing. There are a few other reasons as well.

What I did was call the closest BSN program, discuss my situation with the Dean, and found out that it was statistically easier to get into the BSN program than the ASN program at the community college. The BSN program had about 500 applicants yearly and the ASN program had about 3,000. They both took about 60 students. Since my credits from my previous degree were accepted, I only had to take three classes that I didn't have (I guess I was lucky because I had done some science beforehand) and bingo I was into the program, and out of it in the same time it would have taken to get the ASN. Now, I am sooo glad because I'm getting my PhD and they would not have accepted me without the BSN.... This was not an accelerated program, it was just a regular program, and it did oddly, have a number of night clinical options. So, look into the BSN programs in your area and see what they can offer you. Our University actually had on campus daycare ostensibly for the faculty, but some students also used it, and said the fees were lower than average. It was staffed by child development/social work/and nursing majors, so the quality of care seemed pretty good.

Recommendations: You could easily get from your old professors-who of course can not tell what kind of nurse you will be, but can attest to your ability to learn and be a good student. If you have time on one evening, (which I think you might not with your busy family), you could do a four hour a week volunteer stint at a local hospital/nursing home/etc...and the supervisor of the area you volunteered in could write you a recommendation...

As far as the cost of the BSN, the state covered it, in exchange for my agreement to work anywhere within the state for as many years as I had gotten assistance..

Good Luck!!!

Hey, Karen. I'm trying for the same program at NECC. At first I wondered if you were in my A&P class and if I was the girl who told you about the 500 applicants. Then I saw that you're in the Sat class and I'm not.

Yes, it's true. Actually, it's even worse than that. There are 40 day and 40 evening spots, but they will fill up to half of those seats with people who are already on the waitlist from last year. Does that make sense? There are more qualified people than spots, so they make offers the following year to applicants from the year before. So they will get 500 applicants this January for about 20 day and 20 evenings spots. After they make their selection from this year's 500, they will then take 20/20 more for the wait list for '07. Not all of the candidates are competitive, mind you, but still... So for you and me to get in for fall '06 right now is going to be rough. The best you can do is get As and ace the TEAS test. I'm taking mine next Sat so I can apply for early decision.

Your specific questions:

1. There are NO RECOMMENDATIONS and NO ESSAYS. If you send them, they will send them to the trash. They do NOT look at your past. I'm really disappointed in this, as I am a proven student (MS math), have established a career, and am making this career change because of passion and not money. I feel that no rec's and no essays will hurt me.

2. Like previous posters said, there is a teaching staff shortage. They can only have a certain ratio in clinicals.

3. You won't need rec's.

Get yourself to the next nursing info session, which is a requirement to even apply to the program (if you haven't already, dates/time are listed in this doc: http://www.necc.mass.edu/healthprofessions/CriteriaPackets/Nursing.pdf ). You will also need to take the TEAS test, if you haven't already.

Sorry I saw one tiny part of your post and I needed to vent about something :uhoh21: Personally, I can not stand when schools require recommendations. That's one of the things I hate about a lot of the scholarships too. Recommendations seem to be more about who you know. I would much rather they look at overall grades and quantifyable things in your past such as amount of volunteer experience than a letter. What if my sister happens to be friends with the program director of nursing, and she gets her to write a great letter for me? I don't think that is fair to the person who has just moved here and doesn't know anyone very well. Or, what if I have spent time to get to know someone and prove my skills to them, but they just aren't good at writing? Those things just bother me greatly about the letters. I do agree that personal essays are nice, however. They give a chance to really state your goals and sincere motivation much better than any letter of recommendation can.

I want my application to be based on me, and what I've accomplished, not on what others think of me.

Oooh it frustrates me so much! :angryfire

I totally see your point on how recommendations can be unfair. My recommendations would be from Midwives and lactation consultants that I have been working with through my pregnancy and the past year of my daughter's life. They know me well and know I am driven to get into this profession. I think that would speak more highly than any professor I had 10 years ago, or even my current A&P prof. And anyway, aren't most recommendations 'good', anyway? Most people would decline to write for you if they didn't have something positive to say. I think recommendations are more to weed some who aren't serious enough. It takes a bit more energy to apply if you have to ask three people to write recs for you.

I guess my gripe is more with the lack of essay or statement. Heck, they won't even look at my resume. They base their decision solely on your GPA and the TEAS test. I'm taking an online class, and many of the women are applying to the ADN program. They can't write!!! Their posts are filled with poor grammar and mispellings... I just think that a candidate should be looked at as a whole. It's frustrating to me because they would be crazy to choose almost anyone else over me.

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