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How Hard Is it to Get Into Nursing School?

by Andrew Aarons

Like all university and college programs, admissions into a nursing program has a lot to do with you and your background. Nursing schools have different entry points for high-school graduates, university students and practicing nurses with an RN degree, and each entry point has its own standards for admissions. Your admission also depends on your academic ability and test scores, in addition to some soft skills.

Streams

Getting into nursing school depends on your point of entry. The University of Virginia’s offerings are similar to those at most major nursing schools. Virginia has different programs for high-school grads, transfer students, current students at the university in another major or working registered nurses with associate degrees or diplomas in need of a Bachelor of Science in nursing. For each program, the admissions requirements vary; as a transfer student, your current grades in university play a major role, but as a high-school student grades and standardized test scores matter.

Educational Background

Nursing programs look for more than good general grades in potential applicants. According to the University of Michigan, nursing students should be able to prove their strength in the sciences -- in chemistry and biology in particular. It will be easier getting into a nursing school from high school if you can demonstrate your ability in these disciplines with strong grades in chemistry and biology specifically. Additionally, psychology or sociology courses may give you an advantage, as well as some basic understanding of statistics.

Experience

Most nursing admissions offices also look for your experience in the health-care field. It might seem unlikely or impossible to find nursing experience in high school, but these programs aren’t looking for you to prove that you’re already a good nurse. Instead, they’re looking for people who have been exposed to the health-care industry by way of job shadowing or volunteering. Not everyone has the stomach for working in medicine, but by having volunteer experience you can prove that you do, which will help you on your way into the program.

Other Qualities

You’ll further help your application if you can demonstrate your soft skills, those essential human qualities that make good nurses. Schools may look for emotional intelligence, which is how you read people and determine appropriate behavior, and your communication skills. You can demonstrate both in your application package by including a letter of intent and outlining situations in which you showed emotional intelligence and initiative. A strong letter of intent will make getting into nursing school a lot easier.

About the Author

Living in Canada, Andrew Aarons has been writing professionally since 2003. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Ottawa, where he served as a writer and editor for the university newspaper. Aarons is also a certified computer-support technician.

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