How to Increase Your Chances of Getting into Nursing School

5 Tips to Boost Your Chances of Getting into Nursing School

It’s no secret that nursing school can be notoriously hard to get into. We get that sometimes situations pop up that aren’t ideal, like maybe you started a degree before that wasn’t right for you, or maybe you were a great student later in your schooling but not so much during those first exciting freshman and sophomore years.

At Utica College, we understand that there are valid reasons students may not have had high GPAs and it’s not because they were poor students, but rather just because life happened — and we‘re here to help!

Even if you don’t meet the GPA requirements for our program, we can help you increase your chances of getting into nursing school. Additionally, the Syracuse location of our Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program now accepts transfer students, making your journey toward becoming a nurse more accessible than ever. Even if you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, you still may be eligible to enroll.

In this blog, we’ll cover how to raise your GPA through prerequisite courses and additional coursework, how to transfer credits to our program and how to transfer a non-nursing degree to a B.S. in Nursing.

Let’s start off with how to put your best foot forward when applying to nursing programs.

1. Research

If you want to increase your chances of getting into nursing school, you need to be sure you’re applying to a program that’s right for you and how you learn. Start by researching each program’s requirements to see where you stand and if you qualify.

You should also choose a program that matches your goals. For example, some ABSN programs can be completed in 12 months and some in 16. If you want a very compressed nursing program, you may opt for a 12-month program. If you are scheduling nursing school around your life, a 16-month program may be better.

If you’re looking for nursing programs that accept transfer students, such as the Utica ABSN program, you should also ensure the school has a smooth process for that. Another thing to consider is whether you want a program that is online vs on campus. The Utica ABSN program features a three-part hybrid curriculum:

  • Online nursing theory courses lay the groundwork for your nursing education via a dynamic online learning platform.
  • On-site nursing simulation and skills labs provide hands-on learning with faculty in a risk-free mock clinical setting.
  • Clinical rotations at top area hospitals where our ABSN sites are located allow you to care for patients in advanced medical settings.

2. Find the Right Location

Even if you’re looking for an online-based program, you’ll likely have to be on-site for labs, so choosing a location that’s easy to get to is important. This could boost your chances of getting into nursing school because you’ll be able to attend any in-person interviews early and will be nearby just in case you ever need to drop off paperwork or chat with someone face to face. Our location in Central New York offers lots of public transportation options.

Lester Anim, ABSN Graduate, Class of August 2017, says he chose Utica College’s Syracuse location to better focus on his studies and get away from the hustle and bustle of New York City.

Utica ABSN student, Lester

“I felt for me personally I wanted to be away from distractions. In the city, there’s a lot to do. Come to Syracuse, it’s much quieter. I just had to focus on one thing and that was school,” he says.

Getting away from the city also introduced Lester to lakes and outdoor activities he normally couldn’t experience in the city, which was an added perk. “To focus for school, I thought it was great. It’s calmer — just a much quieter situation.”

As you can tell, choosing the right location to match your goals can make or break how well you do as a student. To increase your chances of getting into — and succeeding in — nursing school, you’ll want to be excited about the program and the location it’s in and be able to navigate it well.  

3. Be Prepared

Gathering important documents, transcripts and letters ahead of time will help you show to admission representatives that you meet the program requirements and bode well for getting accepted into the program. The Utica ABSN program will require official transcripts from the previous university you attended that shows either a minimum of 65 credits from a regionally accredited college or university (at least 57 of these credits must be from a four-year regionally accredited college or university), a non-nursing bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution or a conferred associate’s degree from a regionally accredited institution.

We’ll also look at your cumulative GPA. Our program requires a 2.8, but if you have something lower than that, don’t worry — you may still be able to be accepted into the program. We’ll discuss how to do that a little later in this post.

It’s also important to set aside some funds for any application fees that may be associated with the program you choose. Utica College’s ABSN program requires a $40 application fee and a $150 non-refundable admissions deposit. However, your admission representative may be able to waive your application fee if you complete a simple survey.

4. Make a List

Staying on track and meeting all the deadlines for admission into the program are two other vital ways to increase your chances of getting into nursing school. Our program has three start dates a year, each with their own set of application deadlines. Make sure you’re on top of these dates by making a list or buying a planner.

5. Talk to an Admission Representative

No matter what program you choose, you’ll want to talk to someone in admissions to establish a connection, discuss your goals and ask questions. However, the level of support and care you get is dependent on the program you choose. At Utica College, the application process begins when you meet with an admission representative to discuss your academic experience and future career goals. This representative will serve as your main point of contact during the entire admissions and application process, as well as a source of support to help you get accepted.

All these steps will speak to what kind of a student you’ll be at Utica College. While we hold our students to high standards, it’s important to recognize that GPA isn’t the only thing that defines student potential. If you read the above and checked all the boxes besides the GPA requirement, don’t worry — we’ve got some options that can help.

How to Get into an Accelerated Nursing Program with a Low GPA

You should never give up on your dream of becoming a nurse, and something fixable like a GPA shouldn’t discourage you from applying to an ABSN program. While it may mean your journey to becoming a nurse may take a little longer, it’s still possible and still worthwhile.

If you don’t have a 2.8 GPA, make sure you meet all the other requirements to get into the Utica ABSN program to be sure the GPA is the only area you need to focus on and improve.

Like we touched on in the previous section, the three biggest requirements necessary for getting into a nursing program are:

A Bachelor’s Degree: While programs vary an accelerated nursing program will typically require you to have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree. Many of Utica’s second-degree nursing students have degrees in psychology, biology or healthcare administration. Some even have graduate degrees already. While this is a typical requirement, Utica College’s ABSN program doesn’t require students to have a bachelor’s degree. We strive to be accessible, and we do that by accepting transfer students at all sites.

Non-Nursing Courses: Accelerated nursing programs focus mainly on all nursing-related courses; therefore, the accelerated nursing program prerequisites will usually include a list of courses you’ll have to complete prior to your start date. With your previous college credits, it’s likely you’ve already taken some non-nursing courses that are still relevant to the career that you can leverage to transfer into the program.

A minimum GPA: Between your bachelor’s degree and your prerequisite courses, you’ll need to meet a minimum GPA. This again ranges depending on your program of choice. Most programs require at least a 2.5 GPA or higher. Some set their limit at a 3.0 GPA. This is important to find out during the research phase of your accelerated nursing program search.

So, what if you already have a bachelor’s degree or non-nursing college credits, but your GPA isn’t high enough? How can you get into an accelerated nursing program if your GPA is too low?

Raise Your GPA through Additional Coursework

If your GPA doesn’t meet the required minimum, your journey to becoming a nurse may take little longer to complete, but it’s still doable. Plus, we’ll be here to help!

Your first option is to retake some of the non-nursing courses that are required for the program to improve your grade, and in turn, your overall GPA. Alternatively, if you’re missing some of the prerequisite courses, this is an opportunity to bring up your average by doing well in these courses.

Another option is to participate in Utica’s Prerequisite Priority (PREP) program, which we will go into more detail about below. PREP is a great way to complete your prerequisites and show that you’re ready to enroll in the program. Some programs will grant you admission knowing you’re currently taking a course or two to finish up your prerequisites, but you need to be sure your representative knows your situation because that can help speed up your admission process. This way you won’t have to wait another few months after you’ve completed your coursework and before the next start date.

Nursing student studying online

Depending on when you were hoping to start your accelerated nursing program, you could retake courses one at a time in the evenings and continue working, or you could work part-time and take several courses at once — it’s really all about what works best for you as a student. We want to set you up for success here and make sure you’re in a situation where you can be the best student you can be, while still having life happen around you. Just study hard and make your efforts count. It’ll all be worth it when you’re a registered nurse.

Build Up Other Aspects of Your Application

If you’re still concerned about your GPA, we’ve got another tip: consider working harder on other areas of your accelerated nursing school application. There are a couple ways to do this:

  1. Get an entry-level job in the medical field: Working as a medical assistant or EMT will show your dedication to healthcare, which nursing schools like to see. This can also show that you’re ready to put your all into labs and clinicals and have a solid understanding to pull from.
  2. Be early to all interviews: Being early, or at the very least prompt, to any scheduled appointment or interview demonstrates how important the admissions process is to you. Being late, out of breath or flustered leaves the school wondering how dedicated you are to becoming a nurse.

Nursing Transfer Requirements

Another way to increase your chances of getting into nursing school is to transfer some credits in from previous school experience. As we’ve talked about, since you may need to take some prerequisite courses anyway, you’ll have a great pathway to enter our PREP program as a transfer student.

When you agree to complete your ABSN prerequisites through our 100% online PREP program, we grant you provisional admission into our accelerated nursing school.

That’s right: Through PREP you don’t have to wait for an admissions decision — you’re a Utica College nursing student with a guaranteed spot in the ABSN program for your target start date.

However, to be eligible for provisional admission, you must meet the qualifications for the ABSN program, meaning you must complete each of the prerequisite courses within all specified requirements and have that GPA up to meet the requirement. We do, however, allow one retake of any two prerequisite courses.

PREP is great for transfer students as it offers a strong foundation for your nursing education through multiple benefits.

PREP Benefits

Aside from early admission, PREP eases you into the nursing program by offering:

Online learning familiarity: You’ll have the opportunity to get comfortable with a non-traditional learning environment by completing all your prerequisite courses online. PREP uses an e-Learning management system like the platform applied in the ABSN program.

Seamless credit transfers: By completing prerequisites courses through our college, you’ll get peace of mind and won’t have to worry about your credits being non-transferable.

Financial aid eligibility: If you enroll in at least two of our ABSN prerequisite courses, you’ll be eligible to apply for federal financial aid.

Transfer a Non-Nursing Degree to a B.S. in Nursing

The Utica ABSN program leverages your non-nursing college experience so that it becomes possible to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in as few as 16 months. Now that our New York site has shifted gears to accept transfer students, it’s more accessible than ever to kickstart your way into nursing. If your previous degree or college credits just didn’t give you the right path in life, we can help.

If you think nursing is right for you, talk with one of our admission representatives to determine what the application process will look like for you. It’s time to follow your dream of becoming a nurse.

Once admitted into our ABSN program, you’ll transition from working with your admission representative to working with an academic success coach. Unlike other programs that leave you on your own to figure things out, your success coach will be there to advocate for you and help you navigate any questions or concerns that come up during the 16-month program.

We can help you become the confident, capable nurse you’re meant to be. But, don’t just take our word for it — hear from a student who had rocky grades from a previous degree but worked to get into the Utica ABSN program.

Lester’s Story

Lester knew he wanted to become a nurse when he witnessed an accident and felt the need to help. Although he previously had other career plans, this event changed his mind and solidified his desire to enter the field of nursing.

“I was in the city walking with my headphones on, and suddenly I heard a loud scream. I just took my headphones off and walked toward that scream. I saw that a taxi had run over a couple, and a bunch of us had to help lift the car. I remember somebody screaming, ‘Is anybody a nurse or a doctor?’ I just felt useless. I knew I needed to get into this field because I could be able to further help people.”  

For him, that was the defining moment he knew he wanted to enter the field.

Lester says he knew he wanted a program that was accelerated so that his nursing education would be as streamlined as possible — and that’s exactly what he got with the Utica ABSN program.

Utica ABSN student, Lester

For him, the fast response and immediate support of our admission representatives is what made Utica College stand out to him from the other schools he’d applied to. He says, “it was very overwhelming with applying to a lot of schools, not knowing what I needed to get in. The Utica ABSN admission representative went step by step with what I needed to get done. I felt like they were there to help me.”

Although Lester says he was nervous because he wasn’t sure his grades were good enough to get accepted into the Utica ABSN program, his admission representative helped him get his grades up and mapped out every class he needed to take to do so. She checked up on him and made sure he was on-track to get into the ABSN program. To Lester, that made all the difference.

“Utica College was my No. 1 choice because of the way they helped me toward coming to school. It’s one thing to apply, but they made me feel wanted. We mapped out all the classes I needed to take prior. It worked out perfectly. By the time I was done with my last class, I was going into the nursing program.”

Nursing student works with manikin

So, where’s Lester now? He’s a registered nurse on the cardiopulmonary intensive care unit at Upstate Medical University. Lester didn’t let a previous career path decide his future. He worked hard and didn’t let a GPA stand in his way of becoming a nurse, and you shouldn’t either.

Pursue an Accelerated Path to Nursing

While Lester’s story is unique, you too can increase your chances of getting into nursing school. If you want to become a nurse, Utica ABSN can help you change paths to nursing in as few as 16 months.

If you have as much passion for beginning a nursing career as Lester did, you can make it happen. The first step in pursuing your dream is completing this form to get in touch with an admission representative to see if you’re a good fit for our ABSN program. Reach out to us today!

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Our ABSN has three start dates a year, so you can begin nursing school whenever you're ready.

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