Thinking about grad school but not sure how to start.


I've got 2 years of acute care experience so now I want to plan to get my NP (DNP preferred) but I'm not sure how to start. My actual nursing school GPA was 2.89 so I look like a terrible student. I'm in progress in studying the GRE's but I do not know how to overcome the GPA issue since my old school is pretty far so I cannot bolster the GPA from there. The only thing I have going for me is I have one person thats a higher up at my old job that is willing to act as a reference for me. Any tips on how to get started? I'm losing my drive at my current job and I want to move to the next step in my career.

UVA Grad Nursing

1,068 Posts

I've worked in University admissions for nearly 30 years, and have dealt with this question many times.

You cannot change your old GPA from your old school. Some graduate programs will average GPAs from multiple schools; others will just report that you have multiple GPAs (several data points). If one was to consider only your prior academic GPA, you look to be a risky candidate for graduate programs. You will need to demonstrate to an admissions committee that the student you were in your BSN program (years ago) is not the same student you would be tomorrow. You need to provide evidence that is more recent, and relevant to graduate study in nursing (especially since you are considering a doctoral program).

One of these points of evidence is doing well in the GRE. The GRE is designed to be an instrument to assess success in the first year of graduate study. You will need a competitive GRE score to demonstrate that you have the aptitude to succeed in grad school now (with a 2014 data point).

A second data point (and perhaps even more important) is to take a few graduate nursing classes now. Nearly every program in the country requires Nursing Research and all DNP programs have a graduate pathophysiology class in the curriculum. Excelling in graduate nursing class now (2014 or 2015) can provide clear evidence that you can do well in a graduate program now. Moreover, the faculty member of the graduate class you take now can be the academic letter of recommendation for future applications.

These three elements (new GRE, grades from graduate nursing classes, and a recent academic letter of recommendation) are additional, new data points that an admissions committee can use to consider your future application.