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30-Year Old GPA Might Sink My RN Program App



I am so impressed by the support and advice I see on this site that I decided to write about the anxiety I have about my ADN-RN program application. I am 50, finally done with pre-reqs and applying to both LVN and RN programs with the real hopes of getting into the RN program.

Two college mistakes I made in 1981 have come back to haunt me in this application period. Right out of high school I enrolled in two classes at a local community college. I was enthusiastic at first, but soon stopped going to class due to being 18 and stupid. I didn't withdraw, so I ended up with a 0 GPA. I started nursing prereqs at another community college. I completed two courses and couldn't hack the other ones due to mooning over my future 1st husband. End story, a pretty lame GPA.

Fast forward 26 years, 2 husbands (2nd one still going strong!), and 3 kids, and I start pre-reqs in 2007 with the dream of a second career in nursing - what I always wanted to do. I completed pre-reqs with a 3.17 GPA. I began working on applications for both LVN and ADN-RN programs and realized that the past really can come back to haunt you. Both program applications look at "cumulative" GPA's, which include the two bombed college attempts from years past. They take my cumulative GPA below the required minimum for application. The LVN program director decided to disregard my ancient transcripts and accept my application after my discussion with his Admin Asst who took my application. The RN application is due at the end of July and I'm going to face the same thing again. I really want a chance to get into this RN program and I'm so scared this 30-year old mistake will disqualify me. I heard you just drop the application off - there is no discussion with anyone, so I won't get to explain myself and there is no cover letter accepted. I hope the GPA for my prereqs will show I am serious about my education.

I'm nervous and bummed out that these immature actions can impact me so greatly so many years later. It's going to be a long 2 months...but I'm going to stay positive and focus on the good grades I received on pre-reqs and my good HESI score so far (I'm taking BIO & A/P on July 23rd since I only took the LVN HESI last month).

Thanks for reading.


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

Been there. I had to do a lot of damage control because of my grades from when I was 16 and such (took college courses while in high school). I also had a failed attempt at prereqs (that's what I get for trying to take 3 at one time), so some schools wouldn't let me apply due to repeat policies. I had to work HARD to pull up my GPA in order to qualify and eventually be accepted into a program. Also, with how competitive programs are, most are not willing to work with you, because they have so many "more qualified" applicants ready and waiting.

A few of my other "adult" classmates were in the same boat, and had also had to work hard to pull up their GPAs. You're not alone.

Your good HESI score will work for you. How is your prereq GPA? Most schools factor all of these in with some sort of division of emphasis, and some will work for you more than others. Also, it's always worth trying to meet with a program director and asking if they'll work with you (worst they can do is say no, and you're no worse off than you were before, right?).

Worst comes to worst, you do the LVN for now, then bridge to RN. Hopefully you'll be able to make it all work!

Best of luck to you! :)


Thank you so much for your post. It's shocking to see something com back on you after all that time. You are right about the competitiveness. Did you pull up your GPA with your prereqs? I don't have anything else to take right now to improve my GPA.

Maybe I should call the program direcor and see if they'll meet with me so I can discuss my situation before I turn in my app. Good idea!



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

I took some general ed courses that were transferable to ensure that my GPA was higher. Some I needed, some I didn't, but I earned As in almost everything I took later in life.

MrChicagoRN, RN

Specializes in Leadership, Psych, HomeCare, Amb. Care. Has 30 years experience.

I'd contact the school.

Ask them if you need to even list ancient, irrelevant courses. Im thinking you probably don't.

adreamdeferred, ADN, MSN, RN, APRN, NP

Specializes in Home Health, Geriatrics, Women's Health, Addiction. Has 4 years experience.

I understand your frustration. My undergrad grades kept me out of a local msn entry program, even though I had a competitive gpa in grad school they said they don't consider graduate transcripts. YES, they don't consider grad school transcripts for grad school admission. My undergrad gpa was only a 2.8 and I was told the students they admit typically have a 3.6 or higher so I shouldn't bother applying. The fact that I already had an associates and bachelors degree from this same school carried no weight either. I looked at other programs in my city and met with similar issues dealing with prereqs being too old, etc. I had no money to take all of these prereqs without almost guaranteeing I would be admitted for clinicals. So I delayed my pursuit and completed some other things on my bucket list I thought I could turn into a career. Long story short, nursing school kept calling me and so I took a look at one of the schools I had been considering but never formally applied to. Their entry requirements were very "old school", no astronomical gpa requirements, prereqs could be taken along side of clinicals, no requirements that A&P 1 & 2 be taken at same school ( I had only completed A&P 1). I hadn't applied to this school because of its distance from my home even though in my gut I kept feeling like this was the school for me from the beginning. I received my letter of acceptance in fall of 2011 for the incoming class of 2012. Don't get me wrong it was really hard doing those extra classes with clinicals, most of my classmates had them out of the way. At one time I was carrying 18 hours and I have 3 sons ages 11 months-8 at the time I started. My school was 40 miles away one way so that took away nearly two hours of my day which could have been study time. All I am trying to get across is think outside of the box, be open to getting it done however you need to. I wanted this and needed it in the worst way. I just graduated from nursing school (adn program) WITHOUT honors (3.22 gpa) 20 years after graduating with honors from high school. Bottom line, beyond the pomp and circumstance no one is going to care about your gpa. Schools are using it as a way to weed out the thousands of apps they are getting. Research some more nursing programs, expand the schools you are looking at. Schools don't have to act like "richards" when it comes to admission to be good. My program has a stellar reputation in the area with the hospitals. I graduated far from the top of my class, but I passed the NCLEX on the first try, and will start my first nursing job in 10 days. It can be done. Good look to you!

You've only mentioned 4 classes that you've "bombed".. if you don't get admitted this cycle, I would retake those 4 classes if I were you and then no doubt you'd be competitive next year :)


I do have some History classes and English 1301 and 1302, some PHED, and a Humanities class that I took when I thought I would just get an Associates in General Studies. They have helped my GPA, but not enough to erase that old mess. I have also earned A's in almost everything I've taken this second time around. Funny what happens when you're serious! :)

Edited by Beginning15
Left off OP name..

Mr. Chicago,

I think I might call and just ask, although them seem hell-bent on the cumulative GPA. Maybe they're looking to see the overall student history?


I can't believe you had so much trouble, especially from the school you already attended. I'm glad you found a school and congratulations on graduating! I'm so impressed you did all that work with three young kids. There's no way I could've done it back then. Kudos!!

I agree that GPA is a way to weed out applicants, but in that respect, it makes me one of the "weeds." The school I'm applying to is the most well-respected in my area without me having to drive many miles daily. I've already attended this school for most of my pre-reqs and I guess I'm just comfortable there. However, I will do some research in the big city nearby and see what schools they have. I do like to think out of the box; sometimes I just have to reminded that there is something outside of my box to look at! Lol. Good luck on the new job! Thank you.


I could very well take those classes again if this doesn't pan out for Spring 2015. I just feel like my clock is ticking since I'm 51 and don't want to feel I'm going backwards. But, I've come this far and would be willing to look into that in order to keep this dream alive. Unfortunately, one of the classes is Business Law, which has nothing to do with Nursing, but learning is never a bad thing. Thanks!

uhmmm feel you're pain.. i didn't really like business law either.. :)

akulahawkRN, ADN, RN, EMT-P

Specializes in Emergency Department. Has 6 years experience.

Another possibility is that you may be able to request some kind of academic "pardon" or "forgiveness" type of deal where they essentially wipe those courses off your record from a GPA calculation standpoint because it's been many years and you're no longer "young and stupid" but now older and a lot smarter about stuff, particular about your academics.

You'll probably have to do this at the school you originally attended and got the horrible grades, but it might be worth it to find out if it's even possible.

Good luck!


I have thought about that and wondered if it was possible. It wouldn't hurt to inquire about it, especially the first community college where I ended up with 0.0 GPA. That's so embarrassing, but it's my past and the ugly facts. The other school I got credit for Biology and US History, so I would need to keep those. Thanks for the advice, I'm going to call on Monday and at least ask.

I did it, it's called an academic renewal. I had 30 year old college classes that were less than stellar and I just wanted to start over. The school I was starting at just wiped all the old transferred classes off. The potential problem with this is that you don't get to pick and choose, it's all or nothing. Also, if you need financial aid, they still show that you have those credit hours and I reached the maximum for obtaining a degree and couldn't get any more aid, but still qualified for a private loan. By the way, I'm 52 and will be 54 when I graduate with a BSN.


In Texas, it's called Fresh Start, but my advisor at college said it would wipe out everything in the last 10 years, which wipes out all of my good work I've done in the last 7 years on pre-reqs. Like you said, I couldn't just pick the old 1981/1982 classes, it would get rid of everything. I just can't start over and lose 7 years of hard work at night school. Financial aid is a whole other story with hours attempted vs. hours completed. I've got to ask for an appeal on that or I won't even be able to apply for a student loan. Congrats on your program and good luck!! Thanks for the advice.

If you did not graduate from those earlier schools you should be able to retake any class below a C to have the GPA recalculated.

It's only after you graduate where the transcript can not be changed by additional courses.

I got accepted into the RN program!! Thank you for all of your support. I am still a little in shock from the news but very happy!