Applications for 2024 enrollment in nursing schools and programs across the United States will start opening in the late summer and early fall of 2023. While deadlines and requirements vary by school, those hoping to begin nursing school in 2024 should start preparing their applications around August or September.
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Why Apply Early
Submitting your nursing school application as early as possible, even before the official deadline, can increase your chances of admission. Popular nursing programs often have more applicants than seats available.
By applying early, you demonstrate dedication and give the admissions committee more time to consider your application.Some schools review applications on a rolling basis, admitting students as applications come in, rather than waiting to evaluate all applicants at once. In this case, earlier applicants have a better shot at getting one of the first spots.
Even if a school doesn’t fill up, applying early shows the admissions committee that nursing is one of your top priorities. This can work in your favor during the competitive evaluation process.
While each nursing school sets its own application requirements, most will ask for:
- Transcripts from all colleges and universities attended
- Letters of recommendation
- A personal essay or statement
- Proof of completed prerequisite courses
- Minimum GPAs and standardized test scores
- Healthcare experience hours
- Application fee
It’s important to understand and fulfill all requirements for your desired schools to avoid having your application denied or delayed. Pay close attention to deadlines as well, including those for supplemental items.
One key part of nursing school preparation is completing the necessary prerequisites. Common prerequisites include classes like:
- Anatomy and physiology
- English and writing
Aim to finish all prerequisites at least one semester before you plan to start nursing school. That timeline gives you flexibility in case you need to retake a class or delay enrollment.
GPA and Test Scores
Most nursing programs require a minimum college GPA between 2.5 and 3.5 on a 4-point scale. The higher your grades in prerequisite science courses, the more competitive your application.
You may also need to submit SAT, ACT, or TEAS standardized test scores. Check each school’s requirements and aim to score above average.If your grades or test scores fall below a program’s standards, consider taking additional classes to raise your GPA or retaking entrance exams before applying.
Gaining hands-on experience in nursing, medicine, or other healthcare fields can significantly help your chances of getting into nursing school. Include all relevant healthcare work and volunteering activities in your application.Common healthcare experience options include:
- Certified nursing assistant (CNA)
- Emergency medical technician (EMT)
- Medical assistant
- Unit secretary
- Volunteer at a hospital or nursing home
Aim for at least 50-100 hours of experience before applying to demonstrate your commitment to nursing. Be prepared to get a background check, health screening, and immunizations.
Your personal statement or entrance essay gives admissions committees insight into your motivation for becoming a nurse. Use this opportunity to explain your passion for the field.
Focus on just one or two compelling stories rather than trying to cover too much.An interview, often conducted by a panel, also lets the school get to know you better. Prepare by researching common nursing school interview questions and practicing your answers. Dress professionally and show confidence and enthusiasm.
Letters of Recommendation
Ask two or three people who can speak to your academic abilities, clinical skills, and personal qualities to write recommendation letters. Good options include college instructors, healthcare managers and preceptors, or mentors. Give them at least one month to write the letter.
Create a Prep Schedule
Once you know the application requirements for your desired nursing schools, create a schedule to prepare. Mark down target dates for finishing prerequisites, gaining clinical hours, studying for entrance exams, writing essays, and more.
Leave a buffer of at least one month before application deadlines to allow time for any unexpected delays. Set reminders on your phone or calendar so you don’t fall behind.Prioritize tasks that take more time first, like classes and clinical hours. Leave shorter tasks like requesting recommendation letters for closer to your application date.
Submit and Follow Up
When applications open, submit all required forms, fees, and supplemental items by the deadline.
Double check that your application is complete before sending it in. An incomplete application could mean missing the enrollment date you were hoping for.Don’t forget to follow up and make sure your schools received all application materials, including those sent separately like test scores and transcripts.
Check in regarding any missing items or next steps in the process. Politely ask if they need any extra information from you.With early preparation, you’ll put yourself in a great position to get accepted to your dream nursing school.
Stay focused on the requirements and deadlines for each program. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to a rewarding nursing career.