If you’re choosing a nursing program, you know that one size doesn’t fit all. Depending on time constraints, travel limitations, or financial resources, each program will offer something different.

How do you know if a program is going to offer the best match for you? Here are a few considerations to help make your decision more obvious.

What’s the cost?

Some nursing programs cost more than others, but that doesn’t mean they are out of the question. Some programs and schools have more financial resources available in the form of scholarships, grants, loans, and other aid. If cost is a big factor, check out the statistics for each school to identify the total cost, the percentage of students receiving aid, and the average aid award amount. You can also contact the school to see if there are other ways to reduce costs—if you live close, commuting can save thousands of dollars, for instance.

Does the program offer flexibility?

Depending on your schedule, you might find programs that combine on-campus and online courses can give you the flexibility you need to attend class and complete the required work. Find out if you have to be present at specifically timed online classes or if you can attend as your schedule allows as long as you meet all required deadlines. Will you be required to attend any in-person seminars or events and, if so, will your schedule allow it? Many institutions are using these hybrid programs to help attract great, dedicated nursing students who might otherwise be unable to complete a strict, scheduled program.

See also
Going Back to School for RN to BSN? Key Points to Consider

Where’s the community?

Whether you attend classes online or on campus, a supportive community is going to increase your positive feelings about a program. Find out from other students if they feel a connection with others or ask the admissions office how the program helps develop a community. Nursing school is hard—having a supportive cohort is important.

How involved are faculty?

A close relationship with faculty members will help you be more successful in your program. Involved faculty help guide you on career choices and introduce you to essential research, educational or clinical opportunities, and others in the profession. Even online classes should allow access to the professor so you can ask questions. Is the faculty-to-student ratio in a program something you are comfortable with and that will afford you opportunities beyond graduation? If you have a specific focus area, find out if the school has expertise in that area.

Nursing school is so much more than the courses you take. Finding the right match will get your degree program off to a solid start.


Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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