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Advice for Getting Into Nursing School

Stethoscope next to a laptop and book - Getting Into Nursing School Advice

Your decision to change careers and become a nurse was certainly a smart one. The outlook for nurses with BSN degrees is bright. In fact, studies show that registered nurses are needed now more than ever before. But before you take that first step of choosing a nursing program, it would be helpful to get some advice for getting into nursing school.

At the University of St. Thomas Houston, we’re here for you. While there’s a lot of work in front of you, we are here to help you get into nursing school with confidence and ease – you just need to be committed. Here are five tips to keep in mind throughout the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) admissions process.

1. Figure out what you want from your nursing education.

Where you choose to earn your nursing degree matters. Before you begin the admissions process, be very clear about your needs when it comes to your education. Doing this can help you decide if our 12-month Accelerated BSN program aligns with your nursing school goals. For example:

  • If you’re a career changer with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, you may be attracted to the fact that our ABSN program lets you earn your bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) in as few as 12 months.
  • If you want a quality nursing education, you may like that our ABSN program allows you to gain an education that meets strict academic standards set forth by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
University of St. Thomas Houston nursing student

Knowing what it is you want out of your nursing education can help legitimize your decision for changing career paths and will be helpful when speaking to an admissions counselor.

2. Get to know your admissions counselor.

If you’re looking to put your non-nursing bachelor’s degree to work to become a nurse, then the first thing you’ll need to do is reach out to an ABSN admissions counselor. This individual is committed to helping you throughout the entire application process, so don’t be shy – get to know them.

The first conversation you have with your admissions counselor will be casual. They will likely ask you how you heard about UST’s ABSN program, what inspired you to become a nurse, what you’re wanting out of your nursing education and how you are planning to manage your time throughout the ABSN program.

Keep in mind that everything you say to your admissions counselor will be confidential, so make sure you’re upfront and honest with them. The information you share with your admissions counselor will not only help them get to know you but also help you determine if the Accelerated BSN program is the right fit for you.

Before your first admissions call:

Have your questions prepared: Before speaking with an admissions counselor, take a look at the ABSN curriculum so you know exactly what you’re getting into.

Have access to your unofficial transcripts: Before scheduling your interview, send your unofficial transcripts to your admissions counselor or have them on-hand for reference. This helps your admissions counselor figure out where you stand in the admissions process. After reviewing your transcripts, your counselor should be able to tell you which prerequisites you will need to complete before you apply to the program.

3. Take everything into consideration.

If your initial phone call leaves you feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone. There’s a lot that goes into the ABSN program, so take the time to digest everything you learned about the program. Above all else, it’s important that you have a good understanding of how the ABSN program works. Why? Because the ABSN curriculum is different from most traditional nursing programs.

University of St. Thomas Houston nursing student working with simulation manikin

Our ABSN program runs on a blended curriculum, which consists of online coursework, hands-on labs and in-hospital clinical rotations. Collectively, these learning components provide you the confidence needed to sit for the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX-RN). Once you understand this and decide to move forward, you’ll want to get started on your ABSN prerequisites right away.

While completing your prerequisites:

While it’s easy to worry about future requirements and ABSN responsibilities, you’ll want to stay really present and focused while completing your prerequisites. After all, these courses lay the groundwork for everything you do as a registered nurse. Most importantly, they introduce to you our mission and vision and help you feel comfortable and confident with basic nursing skills before you start your 12-month nursing school journey.

4. Don’t stress about taking the HESI.

As part of the process for getting into our ABSN program, you will need to complete and pass (with a score of 80 or higher) the HESI (Health Education System, Inc) exam. This exam ensures that you are competent in a variety of health science disciplines. To successfully pass, you will need to complete five different exams that assess the mastery of reading comprehension, vocabulary, general knowledge, grammar, math, and anatomy and physiology.

Don’t stress! Before your exam, consider using some of these strategies:

Start studying early: Carve out 30 minutes each week to study for the test uninterrupted.

Take practice tests: Completing the HESI practice test will help you see which areas you need to improve in and help you measure your progress.

Stay positive: You’ve got this! Your study time will give you a great foundation to take the HESI test. If you don’t pass on the first try, you can take it again.

5. Be prepared to make sacrifices.

The drive and determination you put forth to get into nursing school is only a sliver of what you have to give to your actual ABSN nursing education. While you may not think so now, you’ll start to realize this in your first few weeks of nursing school.

As an accelerated nursing student, you must be willing to put certain parts of your life on hold. Remember, this is only temporary – the academic foundation you gain from our nursing program can far outweigh many of your personal sacrifices.

Before you begin the program:

Talk to your support system about the changes that lie ahead. Discuss the expectations you have for nursing school and inform them of your demanding schedule so they can support you in the ways you need to be supported. Delegate household duties to your partner or roommate(s) based on your schedule and pitch in when you can.

Ready to Begin Your Nursing Journey?

It’s true – getting into nursing school is no easy feat. However, with the right advice for getting into nursing school, you can find success. At UST, our admissions counselors are committed to your success from day one. If you have the willingness and determination to do what it takes to enroll in the program, then we have a seat for you.

Reach out to our admissions team today about accelerating into the nursing profession through UST’s ABSN program.

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