I'm a 2nd semester nursing student @ CSULB. Lecture instructors are all pretty good. Clinical instructors seem to change a bit each semester, but most 1st semester clinical instructors seemed pretty cool. If you choose trimester, clinical instructors differs a bit starting in 2nd semester. Expectations seems to be a lot higher for trimester students, comparing to basic. Clinical sites also differ for trimester & basic. Trimester will mostly remain in LBMMC. Basic includes VA near CSULB, St. Mary, Torrance...etc. LBMMC is pretty nice and instructors are actually employed at LBMMC, so they know the hospital very well.
There are no tricks to the application process. It is what it is, purely based on grades and TEAS scores. It really helps if you have high science prereq GPA, since it counts as 40% of your total "application point". But I think as long as your total "application point" is near 9.0 or above, you have a great shot at being accepted. Good luck!