Choosing your nursing school is no small task. Your choice will guide your education and your future career.
But no two nursing schools are exactly the same. Factors like cost, distance from your home and time to completion all vary from one institution to another.
So how can you narrow down your choices and choose the nursing school that is right for you?
Here are the top five factors we recommend considering when comparing nursing schools.
1. NCLEX pass rate
A school could be right next door and very affordable, but if the students who graduate struggle with the NCLEX, then it may not be the one for you.
NCLEX pass rates are an excellent indicator of the overall quality of nursing education a school offers. These rates tell you exactly how students who graduate from the school perform when faced with the final hurdle to becoming a nurse.
The rates are on a scale of 0-100 percent, with a pass rate of 90 percent or more considered very good.
2. Tuition cost
There’s no denying the importance of considering the costs associated with your nursing education. You should look for a school which will fit within the budget you have allocated.
Tuition costs can vary widely among institutions, so when you compare the cost, you may want to see which factors may also be contributing to the total.
Additionally, some schools may calculate tuition by semester, while others show their price by quarter. Likewise, some schools will include fees in their stated cost, while others do not.
For example, at Chamberlain, our total program cost includes tuition and all expenses, from the application fee to textbook purchases. But this number doesn’t include financial aid, transfer credits or special tuition rates.
Find out more about our Tuition & Fees.
3. Length of program
The length of the degree program is an important factor to consider as well, especially if you’re eager to start your nursing career as soon as possible.
For example, if you attend a traditional four-year institution, then you’ll earn your BSN degree in that amount of time.
Only once you’ve completed your degree program will you be able to sit for the NCLEX to become a registered nurse.
Depending on your career plan and goals, you’ll want to compare program lengths to accommodate your graduation timetable.
4. Class size
Everyone has their own personal preferences when it comes to learning. Some people are more visual learners, while others learn best just by listening.
Similarly, some students may do well in large class settings such as lecture halls. These settings can involve up to 100 or more students to just a single teacher.
But there are also students who prefer more intimate class experiences in standard-size classrooms. These settings typically involve roughly 20 students to a single teacher.
Both settings have their advantages and disadvantages. Consider how you best learn and look for schools which offer the style that works for you.
5. Total credit hours and transfer credits
You can also compare the total credit hours needed to graduate at any given school. And if you’re transferring, it’s equally as important to know how many credits you can transfer from past colleges to your new school.
The total credit hours required for a degree will also be broken down between liberal arts and sciences courses and nursing courses. A greater emphasis may be placed on nursing- vs non-nursing courses at different schools, so it’s important to find out how many credit hours you’ll need to earn for you degree when comparing.
Credit transfer policies will vary among institutions when it comes to total credits allowed to transfer, the grade needed for an individual credit transfer to be accepted and if nursing-specific credits will be allowed for transfer.
Many schools will work with you to assess your credits so you can be clear on your academic standing should you transfer.
What factors do you consider when comparing nursing schools?
By Ryan Segovich
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