How to Apply for Nursing School

Each blog post is dated and contains accurate information as of that date. Certain information may have changed since the blog post publication date. If you would like to confirm the current accuracy of blog information, please visit our ABSN overview page or contact admissions at (855) 830-2713.

If you’re curious about how to apply for nursing school, you’re probably interested in transitioning to a career that will enable you to help others. You may be able to use your prior non-nursing education to get into an accelerated nursing school program. First, request your unofficial college transcript, then find the program that’s right for you and speak with an admissions counselor.

woman in red sweater sitting at desk using laptop

Are you thinking about a career change? Interested in meaningful work making a positive difference in the lives of others? If so, consider becoming a registered nurse (RN). As an RN, you will enjoy robust employment opportunities and the chance to help others.

You might not need to go back to school for four years to earn your nursing degree. The University of St. Thomas Houston’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program can prepare you to pursue licensure as an RN in as few as 12 months, with three convenient start dates year-round.

In this post, you’ll learn how to apply for nursing school and get actionable tips on getting into nursing school.

A Look at Getting Into Nursing School

Transitioning to a new career might not be easy, but it can be worth the effort—particularly if you feel driven to step into a meaningful line of work like nursing. You can expect nursing school to be rigorous (it needs to be to prepare highly competent nurses). Still, UST provides exceptional support to our nursing students, starting with our dedicated team of UST ABSN admissions counselors. The following information will help you get into nursing school and answer key questions like “When do you apply for nursing school?” and “Can you apply for nursing school online?”

How to Apply for Nursing School: 7 Steps

The answer to the question, “When do you apply for nursing school?” depends on the specific nursing school. Some schools have just one application deadline each year, and if you miss it, you’ll have to wait for the next application submission period. UST, on the other hand, has three convenient start dates year-round. You can apply for nursing school online when your application package is ready, and you meet the prerequisites.

student sitting outside with laptop

Step 1: Assess Your Starting Point

It’s often thought that an aspiring nurse must complete a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. Yet, you might not necessarily need to go back to school for four years before earning your BSN. If you have a bachelor’s degree in another area, you may qualify for the accelerated nursing program at UST. You can graduate in as few as 12 months (four semesters), fully prepared to take the licensure exam (NCLEX-RN) and become an RN.

The first step is to assess your starting point. If you have already completed a bachelor’s degree, you’re in great shape, although you may need to complete one or more prerequisites. Request your unofficial college transcripts to review your credits with an admissions advisor.

Step 2: Find a Supportive Nursing Program

The next step is to find a nursing program that fits your needs. Quite often, ABSN programs require at least 16 months to graduate. The ABSN program at UST is unique because it only takes 12 months (four semesters). This will allow you to launch your new career much sooner, which many nursing school applicants find ideal. Plus, UST offers comprehensive admissions support. Our dedicated admissions advisors will walk you through the process and answer your questions.

hand typing on laptop

Learn all about the student support resources available at UST!

Step 3: Talk to an Admissions Advisor

With your transcripts in hand, fill out the contact form or make the first call to a UST ABSN admissions advisor to discuss how to apply to nursing school. You can expect to talk about your nursing career goals, but it’s perfectly fine if you aren’t sure what you’d like to specialize in. You’ll also discuss your academic qualifications, which is why it’s helpful to have your transcripts handy. It’s also a good idea to write down a list of questions in advance and have a pen handy to take notes.

Step 4: Make a Plan to Fulfill the Prerequisites

You’ll work with one dedicated admissions advisor at UST, who will guide you through each step. Although some applicants already fulfill the requirements, others need to put together an academic plan with the help of their advisor.

Some prerequisites must be taken within a certain period of time before enrollment. You can take the science and math courses online at UST. Doing so can give you an advantage when you start nursing school, as you will already be familiar with our e-Learning platform. In addition, taking prerequisites may help you refine your time management skills ahead of your nursing school enrollment.

Your admissions advisor will help you create an academic plan to complete your prerequisites in time for your target start date, which will be in January, May or August.

Curious to know more about the prerequisites? See the list of requirements here!

Step 5: Consider Gaining Some Hands-On, Entry-Level Experience

No nursing experience is necessary to enroll in the UST ABSN program. In fact, it’s not possible to work as a nurse unless you have obtained a nursing license. However, you could still potentially gain entry-level experience in the healthcare field.

Our admissions advisors strongly recommend gaining hands-on experience, as this will enable you to get comfortable in the healthcare environment, explore the career possibilities and determine if a nursing career is the right fit. Plus, having some hands-on experience to list on your application will help you stand out from other nursing school applicants.

There are many possibilities you can pursue. For instance, you might look for volunteer positions at local hospitals and clinics. Although you wouldn’t provide direct patient care, you would interact with patients and visitors, which can help you develop important soft skills. An entry-level job at a clinic or hospital is another good option. Consider the following possibilities:

  • Pharmacy technician
  • In-home caregiver
  • Home health aide
  • Medical administrative assistant
  • Assisted living technician
  • Physical therapist aide

Other entry-level healthcare careers may require certification but do not require a nursing degree. For example, consider working as a phlebotomist, which would give you plenty of practice drawing blood.

nursing students in simulation lab

Step 6: Take the HESI Admission Assessment Exam

The HESI Admission Assessment exam is a standardized test that nursing schools use to evaluate applicants. The majority of nursing pre-licensure programs, including UST, require their applicants to take it. The exam has five components: reading comprehension, vocabulary, grammar, math and anatomy. Each nursing school establishes its passing score requirements. At UST, our applicants must obtain an 80% or higher.

Step 7: Build a Compelling Application Package

The final step is to complete your application package. UST receives many applications year-round from qualified candidates. Unfortunately, there aren’t spots available for all of them. To increase your chances of getting into nursing school, it’s a good idea to look for ways of setting yourself apart from other applicants.

Your admission essay is one way to do this. Use your essay to share your dreams of becoming a nurse. What motivates and inspires you? What prior experience do you have that would make you an asset to the nursing community? Be sure to set your essay aside for a few days, then reread it with fresh eyes and edit as needed. It’s also a good idea to ask someone else to read it and offer feedback.

Nurse placing mask on patient

When you’re ready to apply to nursing jobs after graduation, try these smart interview tips!

Now that you know how to apply to nursing school, it’s time to take the first step toward building a better future with a meaningful career. Talk to an UST ABSN admissions advisor today to assess your starting point and determine which prerequisites you need. We’ll work with you step by step to make your dream career come true. Apply today!