Easiest Schools with Nursing Programs to Get Into | EC (2024)

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Why Are Many Schools with Nursing Programs Not Easy to Get Into? Easiest Schools with Nursing Programs Cox College D’Youville University Herzing University – Madison The University of Texas at El Paso Mississippi University for Women University of Southern Mississippi Brigham Young University – Idaho California University of Pennsylvania Western Kentucky University Wichita State University Maryville University of Saint Louis West Coast University – Orange County Wright State University Main Campus University of Kentucky University of Toledo Curry College MCPHS University North Dakota State University Main Campus University of Saint Francis – Fort Wayne Gwynedd Mercy University South Dakota State University Southwestern Oklahoma State University University of Alabama at Birmingham University of Kansas Barry University Marshall University Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health University of Colorado Colorado Springs University of Northern Colorado Albany State University Indiana State University Jacksonville University Illinois State University Northern Kentucky University How Do I Increase My Chances of Getting into Nursing School? Clarify Your Personal Statement Review Admission Requirements Apply to Lesser Known Schools Too Pursue a Nursing Degree Online Scout Locations and Cast a Wide Net Start Preparing Before You Apply NCLEX Exam Pass Rate Top 5 States with the Highest NCLEX Exam Pass Rates 10 Tips for Passing the NCLEX on Your First Try 1. Take the Test Seriously 2. Know What the NCLEX Covers 3. Understand the NCLEX Format 4. Figure Out Your Learning Style 5. Invest in Your Success 6. Think Endurance, Not Speed 7. Practice Makes Perfect 8. Stick to Science 9. Prep for the Day of Ahead of Time 10. Breathe and Believe Nursing Program Accreditation What are the main accrediting bodies for nursing programs in the US?

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Why Are Many Schools with Nursing Programs Not Easy to Get Into?

Locating nursing programs that are relatively easy to gain admission to can be quite a challenge. Consequently, this could exacerbate the difficulty of securing a spot in a reputable nursing program.

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Several factors contribute to the growth of the nursing industry. These include an aging population, the increase in outpatient procedures, and the retirement of registered nurses (RNs). Consequently, it is projected that by 2032, the nation will require 6% more RNs and an even more substantial increase of 38% in advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).

Yet in 2021-2022, the AACN says nursing schools rejected 91,938 qualified applicants. Both from Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and nursing grad programs. The main reason is a lack of master’s and doctorate prepared faculty. But there’s also a shortage of clinical sites, classroom space, and budget.

These issues often force nursing schools to downsize their programs. And makes it more competitive to get into a nursing school. Even with a 3.5 GPA.

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Easiest Schools with Nursing Programs

We compiled a list of 33 of the easiest schools with nursing programs to get into. It takes into account the most recent NCLEX pass rates and acceptance rates. You should note the acceptance rates published are at the school level not the nursing program level.

School# of Nursing Students% AdmittedUndergrad TuitionRN NCLEX 1st Time Pass RateBSN NCLEX 1st Time Pass Rate

Cox College


D’Youville University


Herzing University – Madison


The University of Texas at El Paso


Mississippi University for Women


University of Southern Mississippi


Brigham Young University – Idaho


California University of Pennsylvania


Western Kentucky University


Wichita State University


Maryville University of Saint Louis


West Coast University – Orange County


Wright State University Main Campus


University of Kentucky


University of Toledo


Curry College


MCPHS University


North Dakota State University Main Campus


University of Saint Francis – Fort Wayne


Gwynedd Mercy University


South Dakota State University


Southwestern Oklahoma State University


University of Alabama at Birmingham


University of Kansas


Barry University


Marshall University


Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health


University of Colorado Colorado Springs


University of Northern Colorado


Albany State University


Indiana State University


Jacksonville University


Illinois State University


Northern Kentucky University


How Do I Increase My Chances of Getting into Nursing School?

It may not be easy, but there are ways to improve the chances of getting into nursing school. Here are a few tips and suggestions to try out.

Clarify Your Personal Statement

Many nursing schools ask for an admissions essay. Or, you have to submit to an interview. For these things, you need to be able to explain why you want to become a nurse. What your goals are and any stories you have.

For example, you volunteer at blood drives or at a local hospital. Enrollment counselors often look for a well rounded candidate. So, be clear, focused and make it personal as well as professional.

Review Admission Requirements

Each nursing school may set its own standards for admission. These may also vary by degree level and program. And, may be lax at some schools and more detailed at others.

It is common for schools to set an acceptable GPA range, ask for SAT or ACT scores, and prerequisite courses. You may also need recommendation letters, written by a teacher, mentor or employer. A CPR certificate and up to date flu shot too. Review school standards against your own achievements. Then try to apply those matches to boost the odds of getting an acceptance letter. For instance, if you have a 2.75 GPA, apply to schools with a 2.0 or 2.5 range to stand out.

Apply to Lesser Known Schools Too

Many lesser known schools have approval from their state board, and accreditation. But, being lesser known than popular ones, may get fewer applications.

If you meet the admissions requirements, they may be worth looking into. At the end of the day, getting accepted into a few schools means you can pick the perfect one for you.

Pursue a Nursing Degree Online

Many lesser known programs are available at online nursing schools. Often, these schools have state approval, national accreditation and high NCLEX pass rates too. Some online programs are available at traditional colleges. These may use a cohort model where you enter with the same group. Most also use video conferencing and a set schedule to foster interaction. But you won’t have to move which may make them an affordable option.

Other programs are from online schools with nursing programs. In these schools, classes are available on a learning management system (LMS). The LMS may feature discussion boards, Wiki, and other digital tools. You may also have the flexibility to set your own pace, study from wherever you have high speed internet and so on. As far as clinical and hands on experiences, each school handles them in their own way. So, it is important to speak with an administrator to get full details.

Are you open to some legwork? A self-starter? If so, many online programs have lax admissions requirements (E.g. GPA of 2.0). And again, applying to a broad pool of nursing schools may help you get into one.

Scout Locations and Cast a Wide Net

Your chances of getting into a nursing program may be higher in some states than in others. This may be because there are more nursing programs in the particular state. Or, a wider range of open nursing jobs.

The schools may also have an open admissions policy making them accessible. Applying to schools in these states may increase your odds of getting into nursing school. Assess the school as well as the potential to land a job after you graduate.

A few states with the highest number of registered nurse jobs are:

  • California
  • Texas
  • Florida
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania

Areas like New York, Florida, Michigan, Texas, Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina also report high concentrations of RN jobs.

Start Preparing Before You Apply

Some nursing schools look at the whole candidate. Beyond your grades, they may want to see what kind of person you are and what type of nurse you would be. Things like volunteer work can help a professional resume stand out. Especially if in a health care setting.

Check out your local hospital, nearby camp, or emergency dept. Doing so may provide valuable experience. And, might help you form a professional network as you start your career.

NCLEX Exam Pass Rate

The NCLEX exam is the National Council Licensure Examination from the NCSBN. Or, National Council of State Boards of Nursing. The exam is a standardized test every state board of nursing use. They do this to assess your skill level and determine whether to grant you a nursing license.

Depending on your goals, you may take one of two NCLEX exams. The NCLEX-RN if you aspire to become a registered nurse. Or, the NCLEX-PN if you are a graduate of a vocational or practical nursing program. You need to pass the NCLEX to earn licensure. It is a pass or fail outcome, so in an ideal scenario, you only take the test once.

If you fail, you have to wait 45 days before your next try and may take it up to 8 times in one year. This is expensive as you have to pay to take the test each time. You may have took many tests in nursing school, but the NCLEX exam is different. As a practical exam, it tests clinical reasoning skills. So, while ideal to pass it first time around, many do not. To give you an idea, the 2019 national pass rate for first time NCLEX-RN exam takers is 88.18%. And the national pass rate for repeat test takers is 72.80%.

Top 5 States with the Highest NCLEX Exam Pass Rates

Statistics from 2022 have yet to be compiled. But as of 2022, the 5 states with the best pass rates for BSN programs are:

StateRN to BSN Pass Rate %
New Hampshire100%
South Carolina95.3%
South Dakota94.4%

10 Tips for Passing the NCLEX on Your First Try

If you prepare for the NCLEX, it is possible to nail it onyour first try. In 2019, 84,298 BSN students took the NCLEX exam and of them,91.22% passed it the first time.

Here are ten tips to help you succeed as an NCLEX testtaker.

1. Take the Test Seriously

Earning straight A’s in nursing school does not mean you will pass the NCLEX exam. Some nurses say you should spend at least 1 to 2 months studying for it. So, no cramming the night before.

2. Know What the NCLEX Covers

To be effective when you study, it is wise to know exactly what the exam covers. There are four main categories in the NCLEX -RN exam. Based on client care needs, these are:

  • Safe and Effective Care Environment (infection control, case management etc.)
  • Psychosocial Integrity (grief, loss, family dynamics etc.)
  • Health Promotion and Maintenance (aging, high risk behaviors etc.)
  • Physiological Integrity (risk, hygiene, nursing actions etc.)

3. Understand the NCLEX Format

The NCLEX test does not use pen and paper. Rather, it uses a computer and keyboard. Pen and paper exams give every student the same test, not so with the NCLEX. The NCLEX uses CAT format, or computerized adaptive testing. This means that no one exam is identical to another. In fact, the computer algorithm draws questions from a test bank. CAT targets items to each candidate’s ability. The computer stops giving questions when it is 95% sure that you are above or below the passing standard.

4. Figure Out Your Learning Style

For nursing school exams, maybe you reread, rewrote and recopied your class notes. You will want to do more than that for the NCLEX. The test is practical and tries to get you to think like a nurse. Not memorize statistics. Some people learn by listening, interacting or through visual means. So, depending on your style, you may want to use study groups, flash cards, watch videos or draw systems of the body on paper. These tools aim to connect you with the material. And, may engage you in a way that exercises your nurse decision skills.

5. Invest in Your Success

To bolster your test taking skills, you may want to invest in practice exam books. Or, enroll in a test prep class (E.g. Kaplan, UWorld etc.). Some of these services use 3D images, quizzes and questions that mimic the NCLEX format. They are guides, so look for one that fits your learning style.

6. Think Endurance, Not Speed

For the NCLEX-RN exam, you need to answer from 75 to 265 questions and have up to 6 hours to do so. And for the NCLEX-PN exam, there are from 85 to 205 questions. This makes the exam day more of a marathon than a sprint. Getting your head into the game may help you pace your energy. You can also plan to take the breaks offered during the test. There is usually a locker area at the test center so you can pack snacks, water and a sweater.

7. Practice Makes Perfect

A practice exam may grow your comfort level with test taking. But going through the motions of answering questions doesn’t always help you learn. When you get an answer wrong, look up the content topic to go over the right explanation. Also, make a note of any areas you get a few wrong answers in. Then focus your studies on these areas. If you stress out before, during and after exams, this is another reason to practice. Some people take at least one or two full online mock NCLEX exams to get into the rhythm.

8. Stick to Science

If you are a nursing aid or have experience working in a hospital setting, put this aside. It may cloud your test answering judgement. Even if what you did in this facility was safe and correct. For instance, you called the doctor right away or your intuition worked. The NCLEX is about proven, research and evidence-based approaches. So, stay in the moment with science and think of how to apply it to form your answer choice. Often, the correct answer is about putting the patient’s safety first. Are they breathing, choking, passed out? You should approach every question step by step and use deductive reasoning.

9. Prep for the Day of Ahead of Time

Think of exam day ahead of time. Try to get your beauty sleep the week before, eat and create a checklist. Things like planning your commute, putting gas in the car and setting a reliable alarm. There are rules about what ID each kind of test center accepts. You also want to ensure the ID you plan to take with you is valid (not expired).

10. Breathe and Believe

You graduated, got your approval to take the test and you scheduled the test at a perfect timeslot for you. It is OK to have a few gameday jitters. But now is also the time to exhale and believe you have what it takes to pass the NCLEX at first go.

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Nursing Program Accreditation

At a basic level, accreditation is about quality control. So, one of the main indicators of a quality nursing program is accreditation status. Quality standards apply to both curriculum and teaching staff. They also help to set criteria for professionals seeking licensure or certification.

A main goal of accreditation in nursing is to set a common standard for all nursing programs through the US. This ensures nurses in each state perform duties with the same skills and know how. But there are a few levels and types of accreditation. You may find an accredited school. But this does not mean each nursing program within it is also accredited. Accreditation has a few levels and types. You may find an accredited school. But it does not mean each nursing program in it is also accredited.

What are the main accrediting bodies for nursing programs in the US?

National accreditation means the program adheres to common standards of quality. Ones set by a US Department of Education (USDE) approved agency. The two main accrediting bodies of nursing programs in the US are the CCNE and the ACEN. Both agencies continue to evolve their process and refine their standards. Many people wonder whether CCNE or ACEN accreditation is better. One is not better than the other. But the two agencies differ in scope and set their own standards and review process.

Easiest Schools with Nursing Programs to Get Into | EC (2024)
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