Getting into Nursing School with a Low GPA
Is getting into nursing school with a low GPA possible? You can still become a nurse if you have a less than 3.0 GPA. Learn why you should expand your options and how carefully crafting your resume can help you become a nursing student sooner.
Your dream of becoming a nurse is not over if you have less than a 3.0 GPA. If you are willing to relocate or change the modality of your desired nursing program, this career can still be in the cards for you.
With most nursing schools requiring a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 to apply, all it takes is one low grade to hold you back. However, if you are just below the 3.0 requirement, you don’t have to give up on your dream of becoming a nurse, because getting into nursing school with a low GPA is more than possible. We’ve identified several accelerated nursing programs willing to consider applicants with a GPA of 2.7 or 2.8. Not to mention, some nursing schools will allow you to retake courses to boost your cumulative GPA.
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, for the 2021-2022 academic year, nursing schools denied more than 90,000 qualified candidates due to a shortage of spots. Factors contributing to this unfortunate scenario include budgetary constraints, insufficient nursing faculty, and a lack of clinical placements and preceptors. Competition at some schools has gotten so fierce that even students with a perfect 4.0 GPA risk rejection.
So, where does that leave you? What are some ways you can increase your chances of getting into nursing school with a low GPA? We outline a few tips below.
Cast a Wider Net
While you may have your heart set on attending a prestigious nursing school, there is a good chance hundreds of other students do too. Thereby, your chances of getting into nursing school with a low GPA are higher at a lesser-known institution. And given the nursing shortage, healthcare employers tend to care more about your level of nursing preparedness, which includes RN licensure, and less about where you went to school.
If you want to become a nurse, you might also consider relocating for nursing school, especially if you live on the West Coast where your chances of being waitlisted are much higher than on the East Coast. However, that is not to say you need to move across the country to attend nursing school. There are accelerated nursing programs in Oregon, Nevada, Utah, and Texas without waitlists.
Consider an Accelerated Nursing Program
By leveraging your non-nursing college education, accelerated nursing programs make it possible to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) within a compressed time frame. For instance, we’ve seen Accelerated BSN programs that take as few as 12 months to complete. However, 16 months tends to be the average completion time for these programs.
Many accelerated nursing programs follow a blended learning model that combines online coursework with hands-on skills labs and clinical rotations. However, some nursing schools offer fast-track nursing programs where you complete all the curricula in person. These programs cater to individuals with a non-nursing college education. Some are second-degree options that require you to have a bachelor’s degree, while others require a minimum of 60 college credits.
No matter the learning modality accelerated nursing programs are rigorous and require you to approach your education as if it were a full-time job. But if you work hard and do your best, you will graduate as a practice-ready nurse in what seems like a blink of an eye.
How does an Accelerated Nursing Program work? Learn more in this post.
Go Beyond GPA
While most nursing schools set their minimum GPA requirements at 3.0, there are accelerated nursing programs that accept students with 2.7 and 2.8 GPAs. Keep in mind that this does not mean you would receive a lesser nursing education with these programs. It simply means that these schools take a holistic approach to the admissions process far beyond GPA. Ensure the nursing program maintains accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
Ways to Increase Your Chances of Getting into Nursing School with a Low GPA
Individuals who apply to nursing schools that accept a lower GPA face some fierce student competition. There are, however, several ways to bolster your credentials and stand out from the crowd.
Excel in the Prerequisites
Students applying to an accelerated nursing program must complete a series of prerequisite courses before starting nursing school. While these requirements vary by program, some schools let you factor these prerequisites into your cumulative GPA, which can help if your GPA is just below the program requirement. Earning an A in each of these courses is not mandatory for your acceptance, but in doing so, you will stand out during the application process.
Find the Right References
Most nursing schools require you to submit two or three letters of recommendation as part of your application. These letters should come from academic or professional references who can speak to your character and work ethic. Choose individuals you trust and will submit their letters ahead of the application deadline.
Write a Compelling Essay
As part of your application, you will most likely need to write a personal essay or goal statement. This is your chance to convey your unique qualities and strengths. Given you are competing with others of similar academic stature, put a lot of time and thought into your essay. After all, it has the power to make or break your entry into nursing school. So, be sure to write from the heart as you convey your passion and drive to help others. You will also want your essay to follow a logical sequence and be free of grammatical errors.
Read more about hacks for getting into nursing school in this post.
Craft a Relevant Resume
A current resume is another common nursing school application requirement. So, when putting together your resume, include information that positions you as a standout nursing student. Getting into nursing school with a low GPA means you must focus on what makes you a great candidate. For example, you should list any skills, experiences, or certifications that demonstrate a service or leadership mindset. The best nurses are equally competent and compassionate, so describe how you embody these traits relative to your experiences.
Many nursing schools have rolling admissions, meaning they review applications upon receipt rather than wait for the submission deadline to pass. In other words, it’s a first-come, first-served process. Therefore, you can increase your chances of getting into a specific nursing school term by applying as early as possible.
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