Advice for Nursing Students: 10 Tips to Help You Apply and Succeed in Nursing School

Whether you are a prospective or current nursing student, we have some nursing school tips to help you get you into and through Mercer’s ABSN track. This advice for nursing students ranges from being open to advice to taking care of yourself.

students sitting at table using laptops

Now, more than ever, the United States needs skilled nurses with Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees. Many good nursing programs are highly competitive, with few schools able to admit the number of individuals needed to meet the growing market demand. Nor is nursing school easy, and for good reason. Nurses carry a great deal of responsibility, requiring them to be well-versed in clinical knowledge and possess soft skills like compassion, empathy, and patience.

To help you on your journey toward becoming a nurse, we will discuss advice for nursing students––specifically what you need to know about applying to and succeeding in Mercer University’s Second Degree Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) track in Atlanta. We have outlined ten ways to make yourself a standout candidate in Mercer’s ABSN admissions process, which can also double as valuable advice for nursing students, whether you just started nursing school or are nearing graduation.

1. Reach Out

Before you consider applying to nursing school, we encourage you to connect with an enrollment counselor. They will walk you through each step of the process, discuss your previous academic experience (including how to submit your transcripts for review), and share more details about how Mercer’s ABSN track works. After your initial discussion, your counselor will follow up to help you create a plan for applying.

Your individualized plan will include:

  • Which prerequisites you will need to take
  • Strategies for applying as a strong candidate, which could mean retaking a past course to raise your GPA
  • A timeline for submitting transcripts and any other relevant materials, fulfilling requirements such as taking the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS), and submitting your application

Building relationships and asking for guidance and support are helpful practices that will also be beneficial to success during your time in nursing school and beyond.

2. Tell a Compelling Story

Connecting with an enrollment counselor is a great opportunity to share more about your story, goals, and why you want to be a nurse. Being a nurse requires not only hard work and commitment but also patience, compassion, and empathy. Being able to communicate why you want to become a nurse will not only benefit you in your conversation with your enrollment counselor, but also will be helpful for writing a more compelling admissions essay.

nurse speaking to side camera

The ability to tell a compelling story will also benefit you in the online discussion posts and essays you will complete as part of your ABSN coursework. Another benefit of being able to explain why you feel passionate about nursing will ultimately be helpful when it comes time to interview for your first nursing job.

3. Be Open to Advice

Mercer’s Accelerated BSN track is designed to provide individuals who hold a non-nursing bachelor’s degree with an opportunity to pursue a rewarding career in nursing. Your enrollment counselor is here to guide you throughout the application process. This could include recommendations like retaking a specified course in order to improve your GPA and further stand out as an applicant.

Being open to guidance from your instructors, especially in labs and clinicals is also important for success in nursing school. Feedback on how to handle a simulation or answer an essay question comes from a genuine desire to help you be the best nurse you can be. Willingness to apply feedback is critical in healthcare and will demonstrate your commitment to lifelong learning.

4. Take Detailed Notes

Your enrollment counselor will share important details with you throughout the application process. Establishing or reinforcing good notetaking habits now will also be a helpful skill for success in nursing school. In addition, many studies have shown a number of benefits to taking notes such as improved memorization and recall.

5. Keep a Calendar

It is also a good idea to keep a calendar of important dates. That goes for the enrollment process as well as your time in the ABSN track, when you will have a schedule of assignments, clinicals, exams, and labs. The hybrid nature of the ABSN track includes asynchronous online coursework, which can be done on your own time if it’s submitted by the due date. The self-led nature of this aspect of the curriculum lends itself to strong organizational skills, so keeping a detailed calendar will be instrumental to your success.

See what you can expect during your first semester of nursing school.

6. Have a Plan

Nursing school — in particular, Mercer’s 12-month ABSN track in Atlanta — is an accelerated path toward earning your nursing degree. During the accelerated track, you will learn a lot in a short amount of time. You will also have skills and simulation labs, tests, and clinicals to attend. It may be helpful to set an expectation with family and friends about being absent from events for a while because of your commitment to an accelerated nursing track.

7. Proofread

To help position yourself as a strong nursing school applicant, it’s important to proofread your nursing resume and admissions essay before submission. Asking a trusted friend or family member to read over your resume and essay, and seeking honest feedback can be helpful to strengthen your application. The same goes for writing assignments, where taking the time to read over them once more (preferably after giving your eyes and mind a break) can positively influence your grade.

nurse helping patient with blood pressure tool

Why do you need a BSN degree? Earlier in this post, we mentioned that BSN-prepared nurses are particularly in demand. Learn why.

8. Prepare

Preparation is key when it comes to success in nursing school. And this goes for both prospective and current students. For prospective nursing students, preparing yourself before speaking with enrollment staff can help you stand out as an excellent candidate. Taking the initiative to research the program and ask relevant questions will communicate your interest and show your ability to do well in a nursing program. Additionally, before you begin nursing school, you can prepare yourself by outlining your schedule and establishing healthy habits, which can make a big difference once nursing school starts.

For current nursing students, preparation before your classes can help you succeed. Do any assignments before class so you are ready to ask questions if needed. Additionally, reading textbook material before class can help you to focus your attention and bring thoughtful and relevant questions to class.

9. Go the Extra Mile

Going the extra mile can really help you stand out, both to enrollment staff and your professors. For prospective students, this can mean many things. For example, exceeding admissions requirements such as having an outstanding GPA or TEAS score can help you stand out, or it could also mean volunteering or working in the healthcare field.

student smiling at camera in mock hospital room

Maintaining a commitment to excellence throughout nursing school can also go a long way. Rather than just showing up to class, actively participate by asking questions and interacting with your classmates and professors. Not only will this help you stand out (and potentially get good letters of recommendation from your professors), but it will also enhance your nursing education.

10. Take Care of Yourself

While you will likely be laser-focused on your goals, it is also important to take time for yourself. Taking care of your mental, emotional, and physical health while on this journey is extremely important. If you are a prospective student, make sure that you are engaging in fun activities outside of working on your applications. Doing this can be a great reminder that you are more than your admission decision.

While you are in nursing school, it can be easy to get wrapped up in the hustle. However, it is important that you schedule time to tend to your health. Maintaining a healthy diet and moving your body regularly through exercise will help you stay healthy and combat stress. Additionally, make sure you’re spending time with family and friends. Taking breaks will help you come back refreshed and ready to learn.

Building a good self-care routine now will also be beneficial as you transition into your career. Nursing is rewarding career, no doubt, and taking care of yourself helps prevent burnout.

Answer the Calling to Become a Mercer Nurse

With Mercer’s Second Degree Accelerated BSN track in Atlanta, Georgia, you can earn your nursing degree in as few 12 months. Our ABSN track features a blended curriculum of online coursework, hands-on skills and simulation labs, and clinical rotations, so you’ll graduate ready to sit for the NCLEX. Ready to take the next step? Contact us today to get connected with an enrollment counselor.