Advice for Applying to Nursing School a Second Time

Staff Writer
Apr 25, 2022

According to the report “The U.S. Nursing Workforce: Trends in Supply and Education,” 1 million nurses will retire in the next 10 to 15 years. This will open the door for many prospective students and candidates who want to listen to the calling and become a nurse.

The problem is that nursing programs are becoming increasingly selective. They have limited resources, so their hands are tied with enrollment caps in any given semester. Qualified applicants who would make great nurses often find themselves waitlisted at other schools.

Rejection letters are a bitter pill to swallow, and if you’ve ever received one of them, you know they’re difficult to get over. Nurses are a tough bunch, though, and even prospective students have developed the backbone, spirit, and grit to prepare for the rigors of nursing school. In the long run, overcoming this hurdle to apply to nursing school will make you stronger. So pick yourself up, grab those requirements, and follow these tips to help you catch the eye of the admissions officer.

1. Don’t Get Discouraged

It’s so easy to feel down after being turned down. You probably dreamed of being a nurse for some time now, and it’s hard to have an unknown person tell you you’re not good enough.

First, remember that you are good enough. There could be several reasons why you didn’t get in. It’s likely they didn’t have enough room for everyone, or maybe other candidates had more experience in different areas. Contact the admissions office and ask how to make your application stronger. Admissions officers look at applications holistically, but some criteria can carry more weight. These officers are a great resource and work to help you make sure all your t’s are crossed and i’s are dotted. Some other helpful hints for applying again:

  • Cast a wider net and apply to other nursing schools in Utah that have qualities that fit your goals, like accelerated programs or night classes.
  • Follow all instructions on the application and make sure you meet every requirement.
  • Send all your documents in together, and call and make sure they were received.
  • Follow-up with the people writing your letters of recommendation to remind them of the deadline and see if they need anything from you.

You can’t control what admissions will do or how they think, but you can make sure you have the best application assembled when you apply again.

2. Make Your Essay Stand Out

Some nursing schools require essays as part of the admissions process. Writing well takes years of practice, dedication, and personal introspection. You aren’t going to school to become a writer, so the good news is that you don’t have to be an expert to have an excellent personal statement. Admissions officers are looking for you in the essay — they aren’t looking for Hemmingway. They are looking for your unique voice and your unique skills. With that in mind, improve your essay with the following tips:

  • Don’t wait until the night before the application is due to start your essay. Start as early as possible so you have enough time to put it down and come back to it.
  • Follow the instructions carefully.
  • Keep your essay focused. Concentrate on one aspect of your journey.
  • Edit, edit, edit. You may need to rewrite the whole essay more than once to convey what you really mean.
  • Have a friend look it over for any errors and to make sure it’s easy to read.
  • Edit some more! Give it one good final read before you send it in.

Finally, write from the heart. Your essay is an extension of who you are and why you want to be a nurse. This reasoning should shine through, so let it!

Related Resources: Common Writing Mistakes on College Essays

3. Finish Your Prerequisites

Prerequisites are often chosen to make sure a prospective student has the same foundation and understanding of the fundamentals of anatomy and science. It can be a hassle to complete these courses ahead of time, but often they’re place to ensure you have a solid knowledge base to build from.

Before you apply again, visit an admissions officer or a counselor at the nursing school you’re applying to, and find out exactly what prerequisites you need to complete. The counselor will assess your credits and classes you have taken and help you make a plan for what courses you still need to complete and where to take them.

Remember, some nursing schools (like ours) do not require prerequisites. We execute an exhaustive process to determine who we feel is most qualified to complete our nursing program. Not all admissions models are the same. Before applying again, be sure to ask about student outcomes. This is a primary indicator of the quality of the nursing program you’re applying for.

4. Go the Extra Mile

Nursing school is competitive, so making your application as strong as possible will be in your best interest. Research and talk with other nurses to educate yourself before you begin the application process. Volunteer in your community. Ask people who know you really well and know your capabilities to write your letters of recommendation. Giving your application a little extra love and attention will show through.


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