Getting Into Nursing School: 7 Ways to Crack the Code

Getting into nursing school

It’s easy to fall in love with the idea of becoming a nurse. Because let’s face it, who doesn’t want a rewarding career in a high-demand profession? Turning this vision into reality, however, isn’t easy if you don’t know how to crack the code for getting into nursing school, especially with all of the program options and student competition out there.

When it comes to getting accepted into our 16-month ABSN program, here are seven steps you must take before applying to the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing at Loyola University Chicago.

As you read through these steps, just know that if our ABSN program in Downers Grove or Maywood, Illinois, is a good fit for you, you’ll have the support of a dedicated enrollment advisor throughout the application process. This advisor will work closely with you to make sure you submit the most competitive application possible.

1. Research the nursing profession.

Without a doubt, nursing is a rewarding profession—but it can also be stressful (life or death situations), labor intensive (lifting patients and standing on your feet all day), and less than glamorous (bathing patients and handling other personal care tasks). Therefore, you’ll want to make sure that nursing matches up with your interests and abilities. You’ll find that there are plenty of other job opportunities out there for people who want to help others.

2. Check the admission requirements.

Every nursing school has a unique set of admission requirements for its different program options. For our ABSN program, which is a second-degree option, you must have a bachelor’s degree in another field of study, along with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. If your GPA is just below 3.0, however, you could still qualify for the program by doing well in the prerequisites (these courses factor into your overall GPA).

3. Do well in the prerequisite courses.

Our ABSN program has 10 prerequisite course requirements for which you must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. While we allow you to apply to the ABSN program with some prerequisites in progress, you must satisfy these requirements before getting started in nursing school.

Nursing is, among other things, a science-based profession. Therefore, how well you do in your science prerequisites is a great indicator of how successful you’ll be in nursing school. If you don’t come from a science background, it’s a good idea not to bog yourself down with too many science prerequisites at once. Your enrollment advisor can help you lay out a manageable plan for completing your prerequisites.

Depending on your existing field of undergraduate study, you may have already satisfied several of these prerequisites. We accept credit transfers from accredited higher learning institutions in Chicago and beyond, but be sure to have your enrollment advisor confirm that your course credits are transferable.

4. Write a compelling personal essay.

Personal Essay

Before getting started on your personal essay, here are some points to remember:

Be organized by planning your strategy and outlining your essay.

Be direct by using clear, strong language that gets to the point.

Be concise by avoiding unnecessary details that detract from your key message.

Be real by writing from the heart and explaining what motivates you.

Be detailed by closely reviewing every sentence for grammar mistakes.

As part of the admission process, we require you to write a 500-word personal statement to accompany your application.

Because there’s a good chance other applicants will share the same academic qualifications as you, a personal statement is a great way to separate yourself from the herd.

Explain your passion for nursing and what led you to the profession. Tell us what makes you a good fit for our ABSN program. Describe your dedication toward making a difference in the profession.

5. Choose the right references.

Two letters of recommendation, which can be academic and/or professional, are another key component of the admission process. These letters carry significant weight in that they can help sway the admission committee in your favor―so be sure to have the right people vouch for you.

It’s a good rule of thumb to contact your references early on in the admission process, giving them enough time to write and submit their letters within the application deadline. While your references submit their letters to us confidentially, it’s OK for you to give them an overview of what our admissions team wants to know about you and what makes you different from other candidates.

6. Play up relevant skills in your resume.

When sharing your resume with us, our School of Nursing admission committee wants to see those skills and experiences that position you as a standout student and future nurse, from carrying out a leadership role to holding special certification to performing community service.

We also want you to list any experiences that demonstrate your passion and drive to help others. Whether you job shadowed a health-care professional as an undergraduate, helped care for an ailing family member, or volunteered at a nursing home, be sure to tell us about it.

As you sit down to create your resume, it’s helpful to think about the qualities every great nurse possesses, such as compassion, confidence, dedication, and ethics, and then really focus on those types of qualities in relation to your past experiences.

7. Stay ahead of the competition.

Become a Nurse with Loyola's ABSN Program

Even though our enrollment capacity is higher than most BSN programs in Illinois, it’s still important to maintain a sense of urgency when applying to our ABSN program. Unlike a lot of nursing schools, we review applications as they come in. Therefore, applying ahead of the submission deadline can give you an advantage over others interested in the same term as you. You could very well get an admission decision before some students even apply.

Want to know more about getting into nursing school? Contact our ABSN program admission team today! Be sure to inquire about the online-based and campus-based ABSN program options that we have available in the fall and spring.