According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest paying jobs in the United States are in the field of nursing and medicine. Whether you’re looking to change careers or are forging ahead on a new one, making the right decision on where to earn a nursing certification can be a confusing one. Nursing schools are highly competitive and rigorous, so it’s wise to put in your due diligence when it comes to figuring out where to enroll. Read on for some tips that’ll set you apart from the pack!
GRE and Pre Entrance Exams
Though some nursing schools do not require a GRE score for undergrad studies, almost all of them do require the successful completion of a pre-entrance exam. These may include a general knowledge exam (GRE, Compass or similar test) and an overall fitness exam, which includes the taking of a physical, drug screening, and finger printing. CPR certification may be required prior to enrollment as well. Check with your school of choice for specific details on this.
Generally, the application process does not officially start until all pre entrance examinations have been completed. Filling out a physical application is fairly standard; you’ll need a state ID, information on previous institutions attended, and if applicable, sealed transcripts from previous institutions. Again, check with your school of choice for specific details on application requirements.
Having a FAFSA account is necessary if you’re seeking any kind of Federal aid. You can start this process whenever; the hard and fast rule is to create a FAFSA account right now. Most nursing schools, like other institutions of higher learning, accept Pell grants. These, if granted, are non-repayable funds that go toward education expenses; everything from tuition to books to living expenses in general (yay rent!) is covered by Pell grants. In some cases you may have to apply for additional loans that will have to be repaid; but in general, these are not needed during the earlier stages of your education. Ask to speak with a financial aid adviser at your institution for specific information on financial aid.
The Waiting Game
You’ve gone through the rigmarole and are now waiting for an acceptance letter. Receiving one can take months, and it’s the most dramatic part of the application process. When you get it, expect to feel extremely vindicated. Go ahead and celebrate your success with a small party or something equivalent. After all, you’ve conquered the first of many, many steps into becoming a full-blown nursing professional. But alas, now it’s time to choose which classes to take…
Unlike regular junior colleges and 4-year universities, most nursing schools do not require you to “declare” a major right away. Many of these are technical institutions so your specialty can be figured out after your first semester or two. However, you’ll still have to choose classes; it is highly important for you to make an appointment with a career adviser to ensure the classes you choose help you get to your goal–graduation!