How to Get into Nursing School: 6 Tips

Each blog post is dated and contains accurate information as of that date. Certain information may have changed since the blog post publication date. If you would like to confirm the current accuracy of blog information, please visit our ABSN overview page or contact admissions at (844) 347-2503.

Getting into nursing school can be stressful but the College of Mount Saint Vincent supports prospective students throughout the process. To improve your chances, candidates should first know why they want to be a nurse, perform careful research, and prepare for an interview with admissions staff.

nurse studying

Getting into nursing school can feel like a daunting process at first. If you have a bachelor’s degree and wish to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) through an accelerated program, such as the College of Mount Saint Vincent’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN), then making sure you meet all admission requirements can be confusing.

Fortunately, the College of Mount Saint Vincent supports you throughout the process. Admission counselors are always available to answer questions and assist with your application.

As you begin your nursing school applications, you may be asking, “What do nursing schools look for in applicants?” Nursing schools seek prospective students who are compassionate, driven, and focused so they can keep up with the rigors of nursing school and become competent and caring nurses.

Below are 6 tips for getting into nursing school that simplify the application process and give you your best chance at being accepted and becoming a licensed nurse.

1. Know Why You Want To Be a Nurse

Knowing why you want to be a nurse will be your driving force throughout both the application process and nursing school. This is often one of the first questions that an admission counselor will ask you.

Personal stories are very effective. Perhaps nurses or other healthcare professionals in your life inspire you, or it’s a passion for helping people that drives you. Admission staff look for motivated students who are ready to embrace the challenges of nursing school, and your story will indicate that.

Many nursing programs require you to write an admission essay, so understanding what drives you is essential. However, don’t overthink it. If you can articulate why you want to become a nurse, you have all you need.

Nursing students practicing on a manikin

2. Participate in Extracurriculars and Volunteer Work

Extracurricular activities demonstrate to admission staff your ability to work with a team to achieve a common goal. Teamwork is critical to nursing, since nurses must work with various healthcare staff to provide patients with the best care possible.

Whether you were involved in sports or clubs, nursing schools like to hear what you learned from those experiences. Sharing these activities also paints a picture of your interests outside of nursing, improving your chances of getting into nursing school.

Admission staff are also impressed by volunteer experience at local healthcare facilities or charities. While healthcare-related volunteer work certainly looks good on an application, it is not necessary. Ultimately, any type of volunteer service indicates a sense of altruism, or a desire to help people, which is integral to nursing.

3. Choose Your Program Carefully

Create a short list of programs that interest you and are accredited and respected within the industry. Consider your goals when choosing one of the three education pathways: a diploma program, an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

3 nursing students working in lab setting

Each path helps you reach your goal of becoming a registered nurse, but the BSN option can increase your chances of career advancement and better prepare you for the healthcare field.

Additionally, since your goal is to receive licensure upon completing the program, consider each program’s National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) pass rate. This rate indicates how well a program prepares students for the NCLEX.

Next, determine the program length that is most compatible with your prior education and future goals. There are many four-year nursing programs; however, if you hope to transfer to the nursing track or have already earned a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, an accelerated BSN program may be the best option for you.

Mount Saint Vincent’s ABSN condenses a four-year BSN program into 16 months for students who hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.

smiling nurse holding a clipboard

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4. Do Your Research

Once you have identified the programs that best meet your criteria, it is time to research each school. Are you willing to relocate? If you do, how much will that cost? What campus culture are you looking for? These are just a few questions to ask yourself while conducting research.

You should also determine whether each program offers your preferred learning style. Some nursing programs, such as Mount Saint Vincent’s ABSN, are on-ground, requiring students to be physically present for classes. Other programs employ a hybrid model, in which online coursework is combined with on-ground simulation labs and clinical rotations.

Programs vary in pace. Some are fast paced and allow you to earn your BSN as soon as possible. Others are slower paced, providing you with more time to familiarize yourself with the building blocks.

To choose a program, thoroughly research the school to prepare to speak with an admission counselor. If you feel the school and program may not be a good fit for you, it will likely show during the admission process.

woman packing boxes in office

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5. Make Sure You Meet Program Requirements

Is nursing school hard to get into? Not necessarily. The hard part is confirming that you meet the program requirements. Once you understand what you need, fulfilling the requirements should not be difficult.

Every program has a set of nursing school requirements for admission. As you make your short list of nursing programs, take note of each of the admission requirements. This could range from GPA minimums to prerequisite classes.

For example, Mount Saint Vincent’s ABSN program requirements include a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of at least 3.0 from an accredited institution. Applicants must also supply official transcripts from all undergraduate institutions attended and complete prerequisite courses before beginning the program.

Students in masks working on computers outside

6. Prepare for an Interview

Many programs require an interview as part of the admission process. Interviews can be stressful, but if you prepare, you can feel confident when the time comes. It is important for you to research the curriculum and program details. Keep a list of questions that the website doesn’t answer so you can respond when the interviewer asks if you have any questions.

Remember, practice makes perfect. Conduct a mock interview with someone else so you can get comfortable answering questions about your experience and aspirations. Be ready to talk about yourself. Try to highlight qualities that the interviewer may be looking for in nursing students, such as compassion and collaboration.

Get Your BSN with the College of Mount Saint Vincent

Nurses are in demand. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs for registered nurses is on track to grow 6% between 2021 and 2031, with roughly 203,200 job openings projected each year. Opportunities await for anyone who aspires to become a nurse.

If you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree and wish to become a nurse, then Mount Saint Vincent’s ABSN program may be the right fit for you. Through a combination of clinical rotations, coursework, and simulation labs at Mount Saint Vincent’s ABSN sites in Riverdale and Long Island City, NY, students can earn their BSN in as few as 16 months.

Reach out to our admission counselors with any questions about the admission process. Our staff are here to guide you through your application and simplify getting into nursing school. Contact us to start the process today.