How To Get Into Nursing School: Your Five-Step Guide

From choosing your nursing career path to standing out on your application, here's a step-by-step guide for getting into nursing school.

Aspen's BSN Pre-Licensure class

Nursing is a respected and trusted profession. In fact, nursing ranked as the most trusted profession for the 20th year in a row in 2022. If you’re considering a career as a nurse, there are many opportunities across various roles, and kickstarting your nursing education is an essential first step for your career path. But first, you might be wondering, How do I get into nursing school? What steps do I need to take to get accepted?

This step-by-step guide will have you well on your way to submitting applications that get you noticed, accepted, and on the path to becoming a nurse. 

Step #1: Research Your Options and Career Paths

Define and establish what you want out of nursing. Ask yourself these questions:

1. What setting do I want to work in?

  • Hospital
  • Clinic
  • Community-based
  • Academic 

2. What type of nursing degree program do I want to pursue? 

3. Where am I in my career journey?

  • High school graduate – looking at colleges
  • Some college courses/Associate’s Degree – deciding on my major
  • Bachelors’ degree in another field – considering a career change

Pro Tip:

It’s also helpful to know what kind of job you’re aiming for after graduation. If you want to work at a large academic medical center, you may want to consider a BSN or MSN to qualify for a Magnet facility. (Read all about why that matters in our Magnet Hospital guide.) 

Sometimes starting with your ADN means you’ll be able to start working sooner, but you may want to consider bridging to a BSN for more employment options. Learn more about how you can benefit from a BSN degree and why it might be the best choice for you. 


Step #2: Compile a List of Required Prerequisites

Prerequisites might not seem fun, but they’re the most necessary item on your path to getting into nursing school. These are the classes you are required to take in order to apply to the programs you are interested in, and you’ll need to do well in all of them to proceed with your nursing education. That’s why it’s helpful to know which nursing programs you want to apply to. 

To help keep yourself organized, create a master list of requirements and prereqs for each program. It might seem time-consuming, but you’re laying the foundation for nursing school and your career. 

Not sure how to start your list? Check out Aspen University’s prerequisites and full course list for the BSN Pre-Licensure, RN to BSN, and MSN programs. 

Pro Tip:

If you do well in a prereq class, make sure to establish a rapport with that professor in case you’ll need a letter of recommendation in the future. They’ll be more likely to remember you and how you did in their class, and both are important for a strong recommendation. 


Step #3: Get More Info on Your Potential Programs 

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential nursing schools and programs, look for upcoming school tours or info sessions. These can give you a lot of valuable information about a particular school or program and help you decide which feels like a good fit. It’s also an opportunity to network with other potential nursing students and meet the current administration or alumni. 

Are you interested in becoming a registered nurse? Aspen University offers campus tours throughout the year for our hybrid and accelerated BSN Pre-Licensure program. Check out the available dates for the new Nashville and Austin campus locations. 


Step #4: Set Yourself Apart

There are a lot of ways to help your application stand out when applying to nursing school:

  • Volunteer in your local medical center
  • Become a medical scribe
  • Gain experience as a Certified Nursing Assistant or Emergency Medical Technician

Often, applications award extra points for having these kinds of hands-on experience, and you’ll stand out among other candidates. It also helps you become more familiar with the clinical working environment, which is extremely beneficial for your nursing school clinicals


Step #5: Plan Out Your Time

Sketch out a realistic schedule for all the prerequisites and start dates for the nursing programs you’ve chosen, then decide when to apply. Most schools have ‘cohorts’ or finite enrollment periods. It helps to have a calendar of all your application deadlines and individual application requirements. 

Many nursing schools require a personal statement, letters of recommendation, and transcripts. HESI Entrance Exams are usually required to enter the nursing core component for pre-licensure BSN programs. 

Aspen University offers multiple start dates throughout the year for nursing programs and strives to have a seamless application process—no personal statement or recommendations required!

Applying to nursing school can be challenging, but with a little planning and forethought into your goals and needs, you’ll be able to narrow your search for the perfect program. And remember to be strategic and organized about your prerequisites and applications. You’re on your way to becoming a nurse! 

Written by Alexandra Prabhu, RN


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