Attending nursing school is a big step academically and professionally. Because it is the first step in achieving your career goals and takes a large commitment in both time and money, choosing the right nursing school for you is a crucial decision. But with so many choices available to students, how do you know which program suits you the best? All it takes to make this decision is knowing the answer to several very important questions.
The first thing to know when choosing a nursing school is whether the programs are accredited by the appropriate authority. Many potential employers, hospitals and clinics will only hire those students that successfully graduate from an accredited nursing program. That assures them that you have acquired the appropriate set of skills and information associated with your profession. A useful tool to use to check the accreditation status of a nursing school is the U.S. Department of Education’s database of accredited schools and programs.
Next, do you want to live at home or move away and live on campus? Knowing the answer to this question can help narrow down the possible nursing schools you can attend. If you prefer to live at home for financial or family reasons, you will be limited to programs that are within a reasonable driving distance. Conversely, if you would prefer to move away and possibly live on campus, you should narrow down the list of schools that provide appropriate on campus housing for its students.
Another question to consider is how much you can spend to attend nursing school. This is an easy way to seriously focus your search. Many private or religiously affiliated schools can be more expensive than public and state-funded schools. Also, attending a community college for general education courses can help you save even more money. And be sure to ask school officials about available financial assistance, scholarships and grants that you could be eligible for. Attending a school that is out of your budget is a sure step towards eventually dropping out or getting into severe debt.
Of course, choosing the right nursing school for you greatly depends on what type of degree you want to earn and if you would like to specialize in a particular field. Knowing which schools offer your type of degree or specialty can help you make the ultimate decision. Speak with the admissions counselors at the school for more information about their course offerings, curriculum and the expertise of their staff. Also consider inquiring about a particular school’s relationships with surrounding hospitals. If you are interested in working with veterans, attending a program that could help you obtain an internship or job with the local veteran’s hospital would be a great choice.
Ultimately, the decision on which nursing school is best for you can be made by evaluating your situation and finding programs that best meet your needs and desires. Answer these questions for yourself to help make your decision a little easier.