You thought applying to nursing school was hard? Try picking the one you want to go to!

When it comes down to it, it’s overwhelming looking at your acceptance options. When you’ve invested so much into choosing places you’d be happy attending, how can you pick one?

Don’t rush into a decision, but you can’t drag your feet either. Here are some tips to get you thinking.

Keep an Open Mind

Your dream school might have all the qualities you want, but if the financial aid package isn’t generous, you might find the cost too high. And what about the school that has faculty on staff you really want to work with, but you don’t love the location? When you’re assessing your acceptances, step back and look at the whole picture.

Make a Pro/Con List

A pro/con list is one of the most simple and effective ways of showing you what’s important. Just sit down and make an individual list for each school. Pro list items can include everything from financial aid, nearby teaching hospitals, highly regarded faculty, and campus size to the smaller things like dorms, athletic teams, and campus setting. Con lists might address your limited options for getting a part-time job, the number and diversity of students, or even the food in the dining halls. Write down all your thoughts so you get a real picture of what each school offers you.

Show Me the Money

If you’ll depend on financial aid for your education, each school’s total package will vary. Compare each school’s offerings as close to line-by-line as possible. For instance, one school might offer free tuition, but other costs and fees could end up costing you more than paying partial tuition at another school. Check into meal plan prices, the cost of living, nearby transportation, and even textbook prices. Will you need a monthly subway or bus pass? Factor in that cost. If the school is far from home, consider flight costs, too. Every little bit adds up, so getting the whole picture can make one school much more cost effective.

See also
Inclusion, Part 2: Changing the Culture

Spend a Day

If you have the opportunity, spend a day, or even part of the day, on campus and try to imagine yourself living, studying, and growing as a nursing student there. Can you see it or is it a reach? Talk to students, professors, and administrators and try to get a sense of the culture. Find out where you would park your car or catch public transportation – how far away is it? Be honest about finding the fit that’s right for you.

Be Honest

Maybe your mom went to school A (too far away), your best friend loves school B (too big), and no one recognizes the name of the school you love (perfect for you). Remember the choice is about you. If you get excited about seeing yourself at a particular school and it meets all the qualities you need, that’s what matters. Honor your instinct.

Choosing a school is thrilling, life changing, and stressful, but it’s another positive step on your nursing career path. Catch the excitement and good luck!

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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