Nursing School Attrition and Fears


Hi all,

I just had my orientation for nursing school and boy, it was a downer. No, "Welcome, we're so glad you're here, yada yada." More like: study or else; don't work, you won't make it; and more threats and negative comments. Anyone else have this experience?

My main question is this: how many students graduate from your program from those who enter it? Ours was "bragging" that the program was so hard that only 32 students made it out of 57. I'm thinking, hmm, maybe there is something wrong with the teachers/program, not the students!! Is this the norm?

Also, they said that there are two math tests (one the first year and one the second year). If you don't get 100%, you are out of the program! The director said that she would rather you not be a nurse than make a med error. But anyone can make a mistake on a math test! Can you imagine getting through two years of nursing school and getting kicked out for a 98% on a MATH TEST??? :o

I'm sort of freaking out right now--anyone else??




541 Posts

That attrition rate seems about right. I don't think that it is just your program. Nursing school is difficult in a lot of ways. It is very time consuming, there is tons of new information to learn, and you are expected to be able to apply all information that you learn in clinical practice. Lots of students aren't used to the kind of learning that accompanies nursing school. However, don't be overly concerned. There are a lot of reasons why people don't make it through. There are those who fail and are unable to deal with the rigors, there are those who have some major life event take place and are unable to finish, and there are those who decide that nursing is just not for them.

I do think that the negative comments may be a bit over-the-top, but maybe they are just trying to prepare you. I know that I went into nursing thinking it would be a piece of cake. Ha!

In my program, we have calculation tests at the beginning of each quarter. If you miss any questions, you are given a 2nd chance (yes, anyone can make an error). If you miss any on the 2nd, you are unable to attend clinical for that quarter. This means that you would be a year behind. The tests usually contain basic info that you definately should know and most do very well.

Try to relax for now and don't be discouraged! The people who do well in nursing school are generally those who have a desire to do so!

Imafloat, BSN, RN

1 Article; 1,289 Posts

Has 13 years experience.


I am sorry to hear about your orientation. My school isn't like yours. Our professors/instructors view us as future colleagues and treat us as such. We did have a dosage calucaltions test that we could only miss one question on, but we were allowed to retake it once if we missed more than one. It was pretty easy, I worked through my test twice to be sure my answers matched up and I got a 100.

I am not sure of our retention rate. I know we lost about 15-20 people in the quarter from Hell that I just finished. Our class started at about 100, but we were down to about 75 at the beginning of last quarter (before losing people). We do pick up students from other cohorts so I am not sure how many people are in my class right now.

Good luck to you, you can do this!


470 Posts

Eek. I would be fearful also. Our orientation was not like that EXCEPT for 1 speaker who came in regarding academic integrity. She was kinda scary and told us what would happen if we cheat. Besides that, they were like "it going to be hard but you can do it" sort of thing. Our class is small,only 32. We also have 2 tries for the math test but we dont need 100%, a little less than that I believe. I am not sure why some schools feel the need to frighten already VERY nervous students. Just show them you are going to be one of the ones that make it by studing hard and not missing class. Good luck to us all.

BSN Grad 2006


74 Posts

The school where I completed my first nursing semester has about 15 students left from the 80 that started. This is at the end of the second of four semesters. If they're lucky, ten will graduate. I am finishing at another school. Needless to say, I want a better chance to actually finish.


123 Posts

Yea they are just throwing scare tactics your way and feeding lines to weed out the people who can't deal. Whats sad is it works all too well. They told us half our class would fail out by the end of the first year....we started out with 80 and now have like 60 something. Dont be intimidated!

Has 9 years experience.

I think this may be the way it is with most nursing schools. When we had our orientation they told us how hard it would be, but they also said that if we worked real hard then we would make it through. We started to with 52 and we have 35 after the first semester. We also have a math exam in 3 of our 4 semsters and we also have to make a 100. If we do not make it on our first attempt then we do get a retake, but they are very serious about it. You will do fine, just study and try not to get too upset over it. Good luck in school.


wonderbee, BSN, RN

1 Article; 2,212 Posts

Specializes in critical care; community health; psych.

Sorry you had that experience. I remember actually tearing up during my first semester orientation because the faculty made us really feel special and gave nursing as a profession the honor that it's due. You are special to have made it this far.

Unfortunately, the statistics are true. Attrition isn't always due to academics though. Up until my third semester, I saw more students leave the program because of life circumstances than were weeded out academically. This last semester, however, was different. We lost around 25 from academics. I think that around half the class I started with in first semester is going on with me into fourth.


119 Posts

Specializes in Women's Health.

I remember when I had my nsg school orientation how disppointed I was. Especially since I had heard about other peoples, and how cool theirs was, how welcoming. While mine didn't use scare tactics like yours, it was just sort of...Hi, we're glad you're here..blah blah and bye.

So, for the incoming freshman this year the SNA has decided to set up a table. We will be there to welcome the new students, offer them juice, coffee and treats and answer their questions. As a collective whole, we were all a bit we're taking a proactive stance!

Good luck to you. All nursing schools have that "we started out w/40 and now have 15" story...and while sometimes it's true...just don't be that person! I know in my class we lost a lot of people who changed their minds, had poor study habits, or just had life happen. Don't let it scare you or discourage you!

You will be great!


12 Posts

Thanks everyone for your responses:

Yes, I feel confident that I can do this--I just think that at the beginning, the director and teachers should start off on a more positive note.

I won't let the naysayers get me down--life it way too short for that :)




79 Posts

Has 2 years experience.
Ours was "bragging" that the program was so hard that only 32 students made it out of 57. I'm thinking, hmm, maybe there is something wrong with the teachers/program, not the students!! Is this the norm?

I think our school is really good in their % of students that make it through the program AND pass the NCLEX. The pass rate is like 90 something.

Yes, I do remember that first day. But, it's more of what I don't remember. It was all a blur. I didn't see how I would get past the first week. We had a calendar in with our syllubs and it did wonders for my head to check off the days and before I knew it, it was the end of the semester.

You sound like you've got the right attitude! Good for you Cindy!


215 Posts

Just read between the line Cindy - turn all those scary messages into positive ones. They are just trying to tell you early that nursing school is something that must be taken seriously in order to succeed. That you are going to be placed in an amazing place where people's lives literally depend upon your diligence and dedication. And that if you are diligent, dedicated and take your career very seriously, you'll make it!

Trust me, if there was anyone at your orientation who had ideas of putting in the minimum amount of effort and just scraping through by the seat of their pants, it's BETTER for you if they are freaked out and leave. You will understand this when you get to your first group assignment! lol

Unfortunately, these negative messages scare the life out of people like you who really do intend to work as hard as they can to become great nurses. So those people just have to take a deep breath and remind themselves that if it really were that impossible to make it, then there would be no wonderful mentors out there in the nursing world to look up to.

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