7 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Nursing School

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Choosing a nursing school that is right for you can be difficult. There are obvious factors like admissions requirements and less known ones like accreditation. Learn what to consider when choosing a nursing school.

nurses looking at computer screen

Choosing whether you are going to pursue nursing as a career is a big decision, and finding a school to enroll in and earn your nursing degree is almost as significant of a choice. If you’re knee-deep in researching nursing schools, a question arises: What should I look for when choosing a nursing school, and how do I know I’ve found a quality program?

You’re wise to wonder, as enrolling in a quality nursing program can set a strong base for the rest of your nursing career. From better resources to connections made through clinical rotations, the right school can make all the difference.

At Marian University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program, we offer a quality comprehensive nursing education in 16 months. Our program might be right for you, but we want to ensure you understand what you want in a nursing school regardless so you can feel confident in your choice. When setting yourself up for future nursing success, here is what to consider when choosing a nursing school.

1. What the Nursing Program is Like for Students

Setting the right expectations for a prospective nursing student is essential. The time required for testing, skills labs, lectures and clinicals adds up to a weekly time commitment that is vital to determine if the program will fit your schedule.

This is particularly important when deciding between an ABSN vs BSN program. An accelerated program can be completed in as few as 16 months by using a previous non-nursing college education. This accelerated timeline means an ABSN program is quite rigorous, while a traditional program typically spans four years and is somewhat less so. Does your learning pathway and lifestyle fit better within an accelerated or traditional format?

There are a few other things to look for when discovering what a program will be like once you are in it. Look for the typical class size and student-to-instructor ratio. This can strongly indicate the type of attention you will receive as a student.

marian student studying

Explore the technology that the program uses. Some nursing schools are integrating new forms of online coursework and testing that are more optimized for learning and practicing for the NCLEX. Skills and simulation labs are also an excellent place to look for new technology. Look for high-fidelity manikins that imitate human bodily functions closely and give students an extremely realistic experience during labs to better prepare them for real patient application.

nurses looking at tablet

What if you have already earned a degree? Learn how a biology degree could give you a boost in the ABSN program.

2. Requirements and Prerequisites

One of the first things to consider is whether you will be eligible for a nursing program. Look through the requirements posted on the website to help determine if you are a good fit for the program and vice versa.

With accelerated programs such as Marian’s, it is also important to check the prerequisites to see if there are any that you still have yet to take before you can begin the nursing program. While this will not prevent you from being eligible, you must complete them before being fully admitted.

The best way to determine if you meet the admissions requirements for the Marian ABSN program is to speak with an admissions advisor. Even if you don’t think you will be eligible, there is never any harm in reaching out.

3. Approval and Accreditation

Finding an accredited nursing school is crucial, with good reason. For one, if the state’s board of nursing doesn’t approve the nursing school you attend, your state may not let you sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN®), the licensure exam every nursing graduate must pass to become an RN. Without the ability to take (and pass) the NCLEX, you can’t receive your nursing license.

Marian University’s baccalaureate degree program in nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), and it meets the approval of the Indiana State Board of Nursing and the Tennessee Board of Nursing. During your final semester in the program, we also walk you through the process of signing up to take the NCLEX-RN® and offer study resources throughout the program to help prepare you for exam day.

Secondly, graduating from an accredited nursing program is the surest path to attending other accredited schools if you ever pursue the advanced studies required to become a nurse educator, practitioner, nurse midwife, or nurse anesthetist. Some schools that offer these advanced programs won’t allow the transfer of credits from an unaccredited program.

CCNE Accredited logo

Plus, many institutions only consider applicants who’ve graduated from a CCNE-, Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)-, or Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (CNEA)-accredited program. Many healthcare employers also prefer to hire accredited practitioners trained under nationally established standards.

4. Curriculum Standards

Just because our program is online-based doesn’t mean it is any less rigorous than a traditional BSN program taught in a classroom. Our hybrid learning model comprises online-based theory courses, on-site skills and simulation labs and clinical rotations at top area hospitals. It’s intense, but you can expect to receive feedback from your faculty and clinical instructors as you move through the courses in the curriculum.

What’s more, we integrate NCLEX preparation into our curriculum. Throughout the Marian University ABSN program, you can expect to take timed, standardized tests to compare your comprehension against a national benchmark. Once you graduate, you’ll take an NCLEX review course to learn strategies for interpreting NCLEX-style questions.

The question interface that’s part of the NCLEX prep portion of our curriculum is like the test interface used on the Next Generation NCLEX. You’ll see similar question styles such as bowtie, cloze questioning, hot spot, and multiple choice. Practicing these question styles in nursing school will also help you become familiar with the scoring system, as different questions will be scored differently.

5. Program Cost

Knowing the cost per credit hour and the program’s overall cost is important. Some schools have a lower cost per credit hour but require you to complete more credits. Schools with a higher cost per credit hour may have fewer credits to complete, so the overall cost is lower. You will also want to factor in the length of the program in terms of cost. Is the higher cost worth it if you can graduate and begin working in the field as soon as possible? Finances are a determining factor in what to consider when choosing a nursing school.

6. NCLEX Pass Rates

How your school of choice compares to the national average first-time pass rate of the nursing licensure exam is an excellent measure of a nursing program’s quality.

marian students sitting in classroom

When evaluating a nursing school’s first-time NCLEX pass rates, remember that your success in passing the NCLEX on the first try depends on you. If you are struggling, develop new study habits or meet with professors.

7. Clinical Partnerships

Of course, the whole point of going to nursing school and passing the NCLEX is starting your new nursing career. A tight-knit nursing program with strong ties to local hospitals and stellar faculty can make the job-searching process much more manageable. As such, a strong clinical partnership program is an important factor in how to choose a nursing school.

At least, that’s what many Marian University ABSN program alumni have told us over the years. Some have even said it’s no accident they landed jobs even before nursing school graduation; instead, it’s the relationships they’ve developed with Marian University’s clinical instructors or our clinical partnership with St. Vincent in Indianapolis or Saint Thomas in Nashville that helped them get to where they are today.

Why Choose Marian

Above all else, when choosing a nursing school, look for one that ticks off all the above boxes and feels like a good fit for you and your needs.

smiling marian student putting gloves on over manikin

At Marian University’s ABSN program, we want to support you throughout the admissions process. You can graduate as a fully prepared nurse through our online coursework, nursing labs, and clinical rotations in as few as 16 months. Your admissions advisor will be there to answer any questions, help you prepare your application, and help you complete any prerequisite requirements.

If you’re looking for an accredited online-based accelerated nursing program with a supportive learning environment to jumpstart your transition into the profession, the Marian University ABSN program may be exactly what you’re looking for. To find out more, fill out this form to have an admissions advisor contact you.