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How Hard Is It to Get Into Nursing School?

A nursing student filling out an application with the text - Is getting into nursing school hard?

If you’re considering going back to school for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, congratulations! With our experience operating Marian University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program, we understand that this is an exciting decision that can help you establish yourself in a new career and change your life. With an aging population and a growing need for nurses, this in-demand career could give you the income and flexibility you’ve been looking for.

But just how hard is it to get into nursing school, and does it mean your goals are unachievable if you’ve been rejected from nursing school? While it can potentially be hard to get into nursing school, you should maintain a positive attitude even if you received a letter of rejection from a nursing school you’ve applied to. In this post, we’ll look at some of the things that nursing schools look for in a student, share how to stand out among applicants, and give you advice if you’ve received a rejection.

What Do Nursing Schools Look for In a Student?

With a healthcare gap created by a shortfall of qualified nurses, and more and more people waking up to the career opportunities that nursing can bring, nursing programs are in high demand by students. Marian’s  ABSN program offers a 16-month route to qualified students to graduate with their BSN and become a registered nurse after passing the NCLEX-RN exam.

With so many variables, what are some of the top elements that admissions advisors will be looking at when examining your application? In the following sections, we’ll explore some of the qualifications and qualities that nursing schools look for in students.

Nursing School Qualifications

To start, you’ll want to be sure that your grades and academic record are at the standard required by the school and program you’re applying to. Using Marian’s ABSN program as an example, that means asking yourself:

  • Do I hold a non-nursing bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution?
  • Do I have a minimum overall cumulative 2.8 GPA or a 3.0 GPA for the last 60 credit hours completed?
  • Have I completed all of the ABSN prerequisite courses within the grade and GPA requirements?

If the answer is yes, great! If the answer is no, then taking steps to complete prerequisites or other routes to becoming a nurse are still available to you. It’s never too late to make a change.

three nursing students studying

Nursing Student Qualities

Beyond your academic qualifications, many nursing programs look at different student qualities before accepting or rejecting them. Marian University, for instance, molds students into nurses who focus on holistic care for the entire individual, not simply treating the symptoms on the surface. We want to be sure that students in the program will be able to carry out this unique care philosophy.

Many nursing programs aren’t just looking for anyone who qualifies – they’re looking at the whole individual, and seeing if they’re the type of student who would make a good nurse. With the fact in mind that nursing schools may be looking for specific qualities in applicants, let’s look at some of the things that might make you stand out from the crowd.


Compassion stands with clinical knowledge as some of the most important elements any nurse can have when caring for a patient. Not just knowing where the symptoms are coming from or understanding how to treat them, but forming a connection with the patient and treating them with the human dignity they deserve. If you genuinely enjoy interacting with other people and empathize with their struggles, then you’ll be a good fit for a nursing career. You can help us see this side of you by taking on (and sharing) paid or volunteer work in a healthcare setting.


Gaining a BSN degree is challenging, especially so when it’s in a 16-month ABSN program. You’ll need to be dedicated to your goal of becoming a nurse, and have the discipline needed to complete the work, week in and week out, to see the program through. Communicating your intent to take the program seriously, and having personal examples of succeeding through self-discipline, can help set you apart.

Nursing School is Hard — But We’re Here to See You Through

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Communication Skills

As a nurse, you’ll be communicating with patients, fellow nurses, doctors, and administrators every day, and you must be able to communicate quickly and efficiently. If you can’t quickly make people understand what you’re communicating, then you may have difficulty in making it into a nursing program. When you’re going to submit your materials, double-check your writing to avoid any typos or unclear sentences. If you’re going to be on a phone or video call, prepare notes beforehand so you’ll never be caught off-guard with nothing to say. Polish your communications skills and you’ll impress admissions departments.

Organizational Skills

Just as important as communication is organization. Can you complete assignments and meet deadlines without missing out on important details? If your application is late, if you don’t have the documentation necessary to go through the process, or even if you’re always late in replying to emails, then improving on your organizational skills will raise your chances of successful applications. Keep everything you think you’ll need for nursing school applications in one place, and be sure to reply to admissions advisor emails promptly.

Would I Be a Good Nurse? 6 Traits

If you are looking for more insight as to whether or not this is for you, we go deeper into the qualities that make a good nurse, not just nursing student.

I Was Rejected From Nursing School. What Now?

It never feels good to handle rejection, but it could be a fact of life when you’re competing for program places with other students. If you’ve been rejected from nursing school, it’s time to brush it off and keep applying until you find a program that’s the right fit for you.

Review the elements in this post, review the admission information for your prospective school, and ask yourself if they describe you. Do you:

  • Have the grades and/or prerequisites to be admitted?
  • Use your communication and organizational skills when speaking with an admissions advisor?
  • Display the qualities nursing schools are looking for?

If the answer to any of these is “No,” or even just “Less than I could be,” reassess and change your application strategy. And above all, keep at it. If you persevere, you’ll be able to find a nursing program that works for you.

Applying To Nursing School? You’ve Got This.

Getting into nursing school can be hard, but with so many rewards in your career and life to be gained through nursing school, it’s worth taking on the challenge of applying and going through an ABSN program.

If you think you could be a good fit for the Marian University ABSN program, contact one of our admissions advisors and start your journey toward a nursing degree today.

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