For as long as I can remember, my dream was to become a nurse. However, in high school a lot of poor decisions on my part caused me to ruin my GPA, putting me at a 1.9 at graduation. I still was determined to become a nurse, I just knew it would take a lot of work to rebuild my GPA. I won’t try to sell you some story about how GPA does not matter, and tell you that you can get into nursing school with a low GPA if you just do x, y, and z. The fact of the matter is, nursing school is rigorous, and entry is competitive. Therefore, if your GPA is suffering (less than 2.5) you are going to have a nearly impossible time getting accepted unless you raise your GPA. The journey will be difficult, but worth it if you really want to be a nurse.
Step One: Raising your GPA
Depending on how low your GPA is, raising your GPA may simply be a matter of taking 1 or 2 courses and getting an A. For me, there was no saving my GPA and I had to start over by attending community college. I went to community college for 2 years and took all of the pre-requisites for the nursing school I was interested in (you can do this even if your GPA is not low if you’re looking to save money). If you decide to go this route, make sure your credits will transfer to your desired school(s), as not to waste time (and money). Do well in your classes! My GPA from community college was a 4.0!
Step 2: Prepare a letter of explanation
If your poor GPA was more than 10 years ago, then this step is not needed. Otherwise, you’ll want to have this letter to add to your application. A letter of explanation does just that – explain what caused your low GPA. Armed with your improved GPA, this will let your prospective school know that you’re serious about your education. In your letter, be sure to outline that the obstacles that previously stood in your way are no longer an issue.
- Examples of reasons for low GPA: being young and not focusing on school, personal health issues, family hardships, financial troubles, etc.
Step 3: Letters of Recommendation
This is a necessary step for most schools, but if your GPA is lacking you want great letters of recommendation. I was still pretty young when I applied to nursing school, so I used my high school teacher and my community college professors for my recommendations. If you’ve been out of school too long to use your teachers, I would suggest using a manager/supervisor, and/or a mentor. You want to be certain that your recommenders can speak to your ability to be a successful learner and can attest to your passion for becoming a nurse.
Step 4: Nail Your Admissions Essay
Your admission essay should make you stand out from other applicants. You want to highlight your strengths, as well as emphasize your desire for becoming a nurse. In my essay, I discussed how caring for my ailing mother solidified my dreams of becoming a nurse. If your story isn’t similar to mine, don’t worry! Everyone’s call to action is different, just be sure to accentuate yours in your essay! You also want to tell the admissions committee why you are choosing their school. You want to focus on how the school’s mission, vision, and values align with those of your own.
Step 5: Going above and beyond
I will not go into too much detail on this step, as its pretty self-explanatory. I will, however, discuss some of the ways I went above and beyond to help strengthen my application. One thing I did was volunteering. The school I applied to values caring for the underserved populations. Knowing this, I volunteered at the free clinic, blood drives, and feeding the homeless during the holidays.
I also sought out shadowing experiences at my local hospital to get a feel of what a typical day in the life of a nurse is like. Schools like to see that you’re taking the initiative to be in charge of your education. Nurses are lifelong learners, so you want to show your potential school that you’re willing to do what it takes.
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