Already have Bachelor's - what would you do?

  1. This may be beating a dead horse, but I'm really conflicted about what course to take. I'm one of those "golden, oldie, moldie" students and am plotting a course for a second career in nursing. Many years back, nursing or medicine was my choice but I got sidetracked by marriage, family, divorce. Now it's time to go back to that dream. In the interim, I have finished my bachelor's degree. Since some of my science classes are dated, I'm taking them over again at a community college. So far, I have a 4.0. (Go me!)

    The dilemma is which path to take next and since application deadlines are looming, I have to make a decision. I went ahead and applied to the ADN program at my CC but they give preference to applicants who have already finished their prereq. and they do NOT consider classes that are in progress. I included a note in my application basically saying, please look closer at my application, but I don't know if that will help.

    The ADN program will be (a) less expensive and since I'll have all the non-nursing courses finished it will be (b) hopefully less stressful since I'll be taking only 8-10 hours per semester. However, I wonder about the quality of the education and why I'd spend 2 years getting an AD when I already have a BA.

    There are a couple other options in my area. A couple schools offer accelerated second degree BSN programs. One at an expensive private school but students are automatically given an 80% tuition scholarship if they agree to work for a very renowned hospital for 2 years following graduation. Even with the 80% scholarship, the remaining tuition is $8,000 plus books, living expenses, etc. I don't have a trust fund or a significant other to help fund my education. It's all on me and I know student loans will be limited.

    The second accelerated program is with a state school and I have a feeling I would be better able to fund that with scholarships and loans. Also a good school though not as "high falutin'" as the private school.

    The third accelerated program is further away, also a very renowned private school but not as expensive as the private school. They don't have any scholarship relationship with any hospital that I'm aware of. They are twice as expensive as the state school. Less expensive than the other private school but unless there's some scholarship I'm not aware of, cost to me may end up being more.

    And then there's the issue of the accelerated program being more intense. I'm one of those people used to excelling in school but I know the program is going to be tough for me at my age. I also will need to work in order to support myself. That's probably the only reason I'd consider the ADN over the accelerated program: cost of the program overall would be about half the state school. But it would take me twice as long and I'd end up with an ADN instead of a BSN. Oh, also the two private schools also offer an accelerated BSN/MSN option which would allow me to get my BSN and MSN within 2 years.

    OUCH! My head hurts trying to figure out all these different options. Do I just apply to all of them, see what happens with scholarships and finances and then decide?
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    About 2ndLife

    Joined: Jul '09; Posts: 63; Likes: 9

    9 Comments

  3. by   Mossback
    I'd suggest applying everywhere once you've finished your nursing pre-reqs. Competition for slots at most nursing schools is intense, and good grades do not necessarily assure you of acceptance. This is almost always the case at public colleges and universities, althought many private programs are also highly competitive.

    I wouldn't necessarily shy away from the ADN program. Many community colleges have excellent nursing programs. Once you get your ADN and license, you can always enroll in an RN-to-BSN program. Most are tailored for working nurses, and offer the majority of classes online.

    Another factor you might want to consider is NCLEX pass rates. I don't know where you are located, but in many states the Board of Nursing website lists first-time pass rates on the registry exam for all nursing programs. A high pass rate offers an indication of the quality of instruction, although other factors such as attrition rate can affect the pass rate. It might be worth checking out your states BON website to see what information is available.

    By the way, I struggled with the same sort of decisions you're faced with earlier this year. I ended up getting accepted for an ADN program and an accelerated BSN program. I ultimately decided on the BSN.

    Good luck!
  4. by   2ndLife
    Thanks for the advice about the NCLEX pass rates. I was actually rather surprised that the ADN program had as high a pass rate as the state BSN program. The two private schools have higher pass rates: 94% and 97% compared to 89% for the ADN and state schools. Is 89% considered a good pass rate?
  5. by   Mossback
    When I was "shopping" for schools, I generally looked for NCLEX pass rates in the mid-90s.
  6. by   berkeleycrammer
    If you have a great GPA AND SOLID relevant life experience look into an accelerated NP Program - Columbia, UCSF...three years and walk into a 100K+ job. Alternatively shoot for one of the better two year accelerated Nursing DEGREE programs. Even consider somewhere like University of Toronto in Canada which has an incredible international reputation. Lots out there.
  7. by   2ndLife
    I don't think my life experience would be considered relevant since the majority of it is in law. And I'm absolutely sure that I would not be able to afford going to school that long full-time. It's an attractive alternative but I'm not sure it's right for me.

    I'm leaning towards the Accelerated BSN. Once I'm working and supporting myself in the manner to which I can become accustomed, I'll consider an advanced degree.
  8. by   j450n
    I am in a similar position as you. I think I am opting for an ADN versus an accelerated BSN program. How's the job market where you are at? I figure I would take my time and rather than try and condense nursing school, I am hoping to finish with half the debt...and hopefully, in two years there will be a lot more job opportunities. Plus, many of the schools in my area will allow someone to move directly into a master's with a non-nursing bachelors + an ADN degree. So for me...getting an ADN isn't necessarily a step backwards and I don't feel pigeon-hold by it.

    Just my two cents.
  9. by   2ndLife
    Thank you for mentioning the RN to MSN option. I hadn't even thought about it. I checked out several of the schools in the area and they all offer this option, most of them on a part-time basis. It certainly would be more economically feasible for me to do it that way. The DC Metro/Baltimore area is at least a little insulated from the problems in the economy. Some lay offs have occurred, however, nursing still seems to be an area of need.

    Thanks for the reminder about RN to MSN. That makes me feel a little less leery about getting an ADN if I choose to do that.
  10. by   Scooter5
    I am a second career person too. I have a BA already. I'm opting for a 2 yr program for now, then a RN to MSN program. I have to work full time while going to school. Having just completed the pre- req's, all I have left is the clinical portion and the Nursing courses. That means 9 credits per semester. Very few programs will allow me to start taking other classes towards the MSN without the RN license, but a few will. So I may do that. I have a friend who just traveled down the same road, and her advice was to just take the 9 credits per semester as I should try to get as much out of school as I can. Plus once I get a job I can get some tuition assistance. I have also noticed there seem to be more scholarships available once you already have the RN license and are going on for an advanced degree.
  11. by   DoGoodThenGo
    Regarding quality of a two year college program versus a four year degree, know that all college nursing programs run about two years. What is obviously different is the number of credits required to be awarded an AAS versus a BSN.
    The decision to go with an AAS/ADN verus a BSN is not easy, and depends on several factors. By tradition, two to three year Diploma, ADN and AAS programs were designed to crank out classes of new nurses every six months or year. This worked well for hospitals and other areas as the newly minted nurses replaced those who left the profession for various reasons (marriage and or child rearing, and so forth). The powers that be have been trying to stamp out two and three year programs for years now, one reason is to finally make the BSN the mandatory and only entry way into the nursing profession. However for various reasons not all persons wishing to become a nurse can or is willing to spend four or more years in college, so the ADN and AAS schools are still hanging on.
    There is also the still widely held view that AAS/ADN nurses hit the ground running upon graduation,while BSN nurses are so full of theory they wouldn't know what to do with a BP cuff if it rose up and bit them! *LOL* In short the old adage "two year nurses can do, while a BSN can tell you why she does).You should consider what sort of nursing career you intend on upon graduation and speak with local nurses in your area to decide if a BSN is worth your time and money. In most areas, a nurse is a nurse, is a nurse, at least where bedside nursing is concerned. Some hospitals pay slightly more for a BSN, others pay all RNs the same , regardless of degree. Many hospitals tried to go all BSN staff, and quickly had to abandon that idea. A BSN is great if one is going to leave the bedside for becoming a head nurse or up the management ranks. It is also good for positions where one will be largely on one's own, such as school nursing, working in clinics and so forth,but the real money today is in bedside nursing, and again for that you may not get more bang for your buck with a BSN.
    Being as all this may, if you already have a BA degree, and can swing a "second degree to BSN" program, then all things being equal, go for the BSN. You are going to be in school for two years either way.As for the MSN, there are changes going on regarding graduate nursing practice. The AACN will require all entry-level nurse practitioner educational programs change over to the newly created DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice), from the MSN by 2015.By the time you are ready to apply to a MSN program, things may be different, just something to consider.

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