Where I Got In; Where I Didn't; And, What I Learned

I am officially done with my applications for accelerated nursing programs and have made a decision on which school I will be attending. I wanted to share my experience in hopes that it would help future applicants. Nursing Students Pre-Nursing HowTo


Where I Got In; Where I Didn't; And, What I Learned

Let's be real, it will never be stress-free, but if you have a game plan 1 or 2 years in advance, you can really direct the process in a way that suits you and your goals. I applied to a heck of a lot of schools, probably more than necessary, but at my age I wasn't willing to take the risk of not getting in anywhere, as many students on this site have experienced (never give up!).

As one does after a long, strenuous, tedious application cycle, I have been reconciling with the schools I didn't get in to, and obsessively analyzing which to attend from among my accepted options.

Where I got in:

  1. Emory ABSN, Johns Hopkins Master's Entry, Columbia MDE/DNP, UCLA MECN, Vanderbilt Prespecialty/MSN,
  2. Where I got waitlisted:
  3. UPenn BSN/MSN (offered interview), Duke ABSN

Where I got rejected:

  • Azusa Pacific Master's Entry, UCSF, University of Florida ABSN, OHSU Master's/DNP

How To Get Into An Accelerated Nursing Program:

STEP 1:  Make contact with the schools, admissions departments, professors, in ways you wouldn't think other students would.

Reach out by email, phone call. Attend an open house the year before you apply, and then attend again the year you are applying. Go to seminars or lectures being held at the nursing school. If you attend a conference there, put that on your resume. The more they see your face, hear your voice, and know who you are, the better.

STEP 2:  Make sure you emphasize that your top choice school is your top choice.

Put it in your essay (albeit a bit subtly), tell them over the phone, and mention it in your interview. But always be sincere. Getting accepted to schools is like getting recruited to play a college sport or getting drafted to play professional baseball. If they think there is a good chance (for whatever reason - over qualified, they think you want to go elsewhere, etc) that you will turn them down, they may not accept you even if they really like you. If they know you would say yes in a heartbeat, they're likely to at least consider you, and that's the first step.

STEP 3:  Pick schools that match your interests. It's your career, after all.

My 3 loves in medicine are pediatrics (children's hospitals make my heart race), global health (I earned a graduate degree in this), and sports medicine (I played sports my whole life and interned in the athletic dept during undergrad). As such, I picked schools like JHU, Emory, and Columbia that really value global health. I also picked UPenn and because of their strong peds programs and and close proximity to children's hospitals (both have a children's hospital on/next to campus). Finally, I applied to Duke because they offer the only orthopedic/sports med NP specialty in the country. It's a post-grad certificate program, but knowing the competitiveness, I thought it could be a good way to get my foot in the door. Lastly, I also wanted a school that coordinates closely with a medical school because I want a research and science heavy degree in nursing, and I felt that these schools would have this focus.

STEP 4:  If you are years from applying, develop, tone, and really focus your resume. These schools want to see a story.

Everyone's story is different, no matter who common or cliche you think your interests, and therefore your essay, might be. I have known people on application committees personally. When they say they look at you holistically, they really do. What that means is that they take everything you have offered them, and they paint a picture. They might value certain qualities or experiences over others (I.e. the points system) but they still want to have an idea in their mind about who you are. For example, my resume focused on my academic achievements, leadership, and non-profit work. Many of my jobs related to each of these - founding a philanthropic student group, international medical work, my teaching experiences, my cultural background. I then wrote my essay focusing on the experience that was most influential in my life and in my quest for this rewarding career.

STEP 5:  Tie in your future goals with your past experiences and how YOU will CONTRIBUTE to the school.

Let's face it, schools are businesses. Like any company, they want to know how you will help them achieve their goal just as much as how you will achieve yours. In my essay, I designated a few sentences to my dreams as a nursing professional and how those roles will benefit the school long term (I would like to be a professor eventually >> potentially benefits the school).

STEP 6:  Be Real.

Don't pretend to be something you're not. Seriously. If we are applying to accelerated, graduate level, professional nursing programs, then every single one of us has something real to offer. It's just about how you sell yourself. Give your entire application packet to a friend or family member that you know will give you honest feedback. Give it to a colleague you trust. And find someone who doesn't know you too well, because they can ask you questions similar to the questions an admissions committee would have. You don't want to leave any holes.

STEP 7:  Lastly, stay confident and pat yourself on the back once in a while, even if you don't feel like you deserve it.

You worked so hard for these applications. And you submitted them! That in and of itself should make you feel accomplished. My first 2 rejections (and the first 2 schools I heard from) were UCSF and Azusa Pacific. You can imagine my feelings when a top school and a lesser known school both rejected me. Then I didn't hear from another school for 2 whole months. I was sure I wouldn't get in anywhere, especially since I was applying to so many extra competitive programs. But in the end it all worked out.

I will be attending Vanderbilt for their Prespecialty/PNP program and it's actually the most perfect program for me that I could have imagined. And it wasn't even my first choice for a long time.

If anyone is interested in hearing about why I chose Vandy over the other schools, feel free to reach out! All of these programs are amazing and will put you in a position of being very successful in your career. It doesn't have to be an Ivy League or a top ranked program. In the end, you make your career what you want with what kind of experiences you allow yourself to have. It's all about how much effort and commitment you put in and how involved you want to be.

Good luck everyone in the coming months and years! Never give up!!

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Specializes in ICU Stepdown.

Congratulations! I eventually want to attend Vanderbilt for my MSN. It was never even a thought of mine to want to attend there until I read more about their programs and they seem to be top notch for what I look for in a school/program. Good luck, I hope to hear more about your journey :)

Specializes in Midwife, OBGYN.

Thank you for giving us your insights. I am about to start my own application process to most of the schools you have on your list and the additional color has been helpful. I've already invested two years retraining and taking pre-reqs since my BA was not in the sciences.

My areas of interest of focus are in midwifery, women's health and the family, and I would also like to teach once I have gained enough experience to have something to offer.

Many thanks again for your story and congratulations on being accepted into your program and making your choice. It gives me much needed reassurance that things will work out for me as well.

Good luck! I will definitely let you know how it goes. As an applicant, I have only heard good things about it, so I am very excited. I think flexibility is the biggest thing for me, and they seem incredibly challenging but also sort of flexible in terms of where you can live and what clinical rotations you can do.

Hey TangoDeux,

Those sound like great goals!! Teaching is a super in-need part of nursing right now and I'm sure it will be for a long time. I also did post-bacc classes and I can say that I feel like they really did focus on the post-bacc stuff more than what your undergrad classes were. Good luck!!

Thank you so much for this information! I am definitely saving this post and will refer to it when it's time for me to apply! I just finished my undergrad degree and will apply for accelerated nursing early next year/late this year. I'm working on the pre-requisite right now. I have a good GPA at a very rigorous and prestigious school. I also have lots of research experience at a massive pediatric children's hospital. I also have a lot of experience with the patients, nurses, and doctors at the hospital (worked for about 600 hours there). I have worked on executive committees at school that are related to medicine/health and worked on epidemiological research at the government. I really hope I can flush out the best of all my experience in my written application. My GPA is good but not the best (3.65). There are definitely many people with a better GPA. Plus I don't have a masters degree, which I heard lots of people do. But thank you so much for this post !!!

Hey! I'm in the same boat as you except I'm applying this year. How did your application process go? Did you get accepted somewhere?