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The debate: ADN vs BSN: for a struggling student


I am not great at school. However I am good at hands-on. I've been a Nurse Aide and a Firefighter / EMT and I love medical protocol. So many times I tell people that I am in school (for biology) and people guess first that I'm in it for Nursing. I am going to get my general AA next quarter, but I recently decided that Nursing is my calling. It just fits me, and out of all the career choices I have had in the past I've never been more excited to pursue this one. This I can actually say I want it very much.

My concern is that I have a lousy history of grades from when I was younger and didnt have the goals/drive. There are two local programs to choose from, ADN through the College, and the BSN through the University extension. I know many people weigh out these degree paths in other threads, but I am nervous that I wont make the cut for the BSN. I know that if you want something you have to work hard at it, and then anything is attainable.

However, I will be needing to start my pre-reqs, only one of my classes I have now count toward Nursing pre-reqs. So basically I will be starting from scratch in this direction with a general AA in my pocket.

I am not asking about the outcomes of the benefits of each degree, but more so the level of difficulty. Are they quite comparable as far as classes and training? Are they both going to require the same level of homework and intensity? What are the main differences in the education you receive from both?

I want to climb that mountain, I just want to know the intensity of each so I can be sure I'm setting my self up for success.

queserasera, RN

Has 5 years experience.

Just apply to as many programs as you can. If you're serious about making this your life's work - it doesn't matter what route you take. I applied to BSN and ADN programs. Was waitlisted for BSN (despite stellar grades and TEAS score!) and ended up getting accepted to several area ADN programs. In the long run I'll be spending a lot less to get the same education (I'll be bridging RN-BSN the moment I pass my NCLEX thanks to a consortium my CC has with local Uni). Just put yourself out there - If you make the minimum requirements for application, apply. But also know it's competitive out there and if you think getting into school is going to be tough, wait till you're looking for a job!

BSN is 2 years at about 15-18 credits a semester focusing on all theory and practice of nursing. There are more research classes, management classes etc. ADN from what I understand is more practical nursing at about 9credits a semester.

Of course every program is different this is just what the school around me are doing.


Specializes in L&D, infusion, urology. Has 2 years experience.

I agree about applying to a lot of programs. Apply anywhere you'd consider. Make it your focus now to earn As in everything you have left. I had to work hard to improve upon grades I'd earned when I was younger (with the whole, "Cs get degrees" attitude), and it can be done. You can always bridge to BSN later, but at least earning your ADN can get you going as a nurse. BSN will open more doors, but you don't have to go straight there if you are able to get into an ADN program, but not a BSN program right away. Just be sure to get good grades in the ADN program so you can get into a bridge program later.