You know you want to be a nurse, and because you already have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, you are looking to get into a nursing program that will provide a thorough education while allowing you to graduate as soon as possible. After all, you likely already spent four years on your previous degree.
All of this makes Mercer University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program a smart choice. This Atlanta, Georgia-based accelerated nursing program allows students to graduate practice-ready in as few as 12 months.
However, getting into nursing school — especially a top-tier program like Mercer’s second-degree ABSN program — is not always easy. There is a good reason for this: becoming a nurse takes hard work and dedication, and nursing schools want to ensure they admit only students who have what it takes.
Today, we will be talking about what you can do before, during, and after your initial admissions call to increase your chances of getting into nursing school. In doing so, you will gain a better understanding of the Mercer ABSN admissions process.
10 Tips for Getting Into Nursing School
Prior to Your Admissions Call
Before you formally apply for our Accelerated BSN program in Atlanta, take any outstanding prerequisite courses, or even talk to an enrollment counselor, it pays to prepare. That way, when you do talk to an enrollment counselor, you present your best self.
1. Know why you want to be a nurse.
Think of your first admissions call as being like a job interview. Just as a job applicant needs to be able to express why he or she is the right candidate for the job, you should be able to explain why you want to be a nurse. The passion you exude for nursing goes a long way toward showing you are committed to the challenge ahead.
2. Be realistic about whether you have time for an accelerated nursing program.
Mercer ABSN is an intensive, fast-paced program. Over the course of 12 months, you will complete 56 credit hours spanning online coursework, hands-on skills and simulation labs, and clinical rotations. Be prepared to treat it as a full-time job. To be successful, we strongly recommend that you do not work during the program. Realize that other interests will likely take a backseat for a while, too.
If you have children, make sure you are clear with your significant other that nursing school is going to take up much of your time and that you are not going to be able to help around the house as much. You might also consider asking family whether they can help you from time to time, and be clear that you might be absent from family events while working toward your dream. The same goes for friends. Let them know that you are going to be very busy with school over the next year or so and that your absence is nothing personal.
3. Write down any questions you have about the program, nursing in general, etc.
Asking thoughtful questions is another way to show you are serious about the journey ahead. Not to mention, as a nurse, part of your job will be to ask patients questions, so being able to articulate those questions is important. As you prepare for your call, write down any questions you intend to ask. Having a written list will jog your memory during your conversation and allow you to focus on what your enrollment counselor is saying without fear of forgetting to ask something.
4. Obtain your unofficial school transcripts.
While it is not essential that you have your unofficial school transcripts for your initial admissions call, obtaining them in advance can help expedite the process. Not only will you be able to speak toward your GPA and course history from the get-go, answering your first call with transcripts in hand shows you are organized and driven.
Before your initial admissions call:
- Know why you want to be a nurse.
- Be realistic about what you can do.
- Write down any questions you have.
- Obtain your unofficial transcripts.
During Your Initial Admissions Call
Talking to an enrollment counselor is the first step toward enrolling in our accelerated nursing program. During this 20–30 minute introductory call, your counselor will ask you why you want to become a nurse and what made you choose Mercer’s Accelerated BSN program. He or she will also want to know about your previous academic studies, schedule and availability, and nursing school goals. Doing so helps him or her to gauge whether you are a good fit for this accelerated program.
1. Listen carefully and take good notes.
While your enrollment counselor will follow up with the key takeaways of your call, the most dedicated students are proactive. As you listen, take detailed notes of any next steps, additional questions, program requirements, and important dates. Getting in the habit of taking thorough notes now will benefit you in school and your daily work as a nurse. Additionally, to get the most out of your call, you choose a time and place free of distractions so that your counselor has your undivided attention.
2. Build a good rapport with your enrollment counselor.
One of the great things about having enrollment counselors dedicated solely to working with ABSN students is that you are assigned a counselor to guide you through every step of the admissions process. Use this call not only to learn more about the program and path ahead but also to get to know your counselor. Doing so shows your ability to form personal connections with others — something nurses do every day.
3. Be honest and upfront about any issues of concern.
It is understandable that you want to put your best foot forward in your initial call; however, you are doing yourself a disservice if you choose to omit any issues of concern. If, for example, you have a negative mark in your background history or decided to start over on your previous education at a different school due to poor grades, be upfront with your counselor. This will allow him or her to work with you to identify a pathway to success. Not to mention, it could save you a lot of time in the end. Remember that your counselor is not here to judge but to help you achieve your dream of becoming a registered nurse.
During your initial admissions call:
- Listen carefully and take good notes.
- Build a good rapport.
- Be honest and upfront about any concerns.
After Your Initial Admissions Call
Following your first conversation with an enrollment counselor, you will be asked to send over your unofficial college transcripts. Your enrollment counselor will then work with you to develop an individualized academic plan during a follow-up conversation. This plan may include fulfilling outstanding prerequisite courses, or retaking a science course completed more than five years ago, among other requirements. When you can enroll in Mercer ABSN depends on the steps you need to take to complete your academic plan.
1. Heed your enrollment counselor’s advice.
Your counselor is an expert on our accelerated nursing admissions process and wants for you to succeed, so be receptive to their advice. For example, he or she might recommend you retake a course to raise your GPA and improve your chances of being admitted into the program.
2. Follow through and keep your enrollment counselor updated on any new developments.
Promptly following up on any next steps without needing to be reminded is another good way to show you are serious, making it important to write down any next steps you and your counselor discuss. Additionally, while he or she will remain in close contact with you throughout the process, be proactive about any changes in your status.
3. Successfully complete your academic plan.
Accelerated nursing programs condense a lot of nursing-specific content into a short timeframe by leveraging students’ past academic studies. This is why prerequisites are so important, as they provide the foundational knowledge upon which your nursing studies are built. It is for this same reason students who have science backgrounds tend to meet more of the prerequisite course requirements.
For those students who did not take some or all of the prerequisites as a part of their prior degree, or who took the necessary science courses more than five years ago, completing prerequisites with a 3.0 GPA or higher is mandatory. However, be aware that 3.0 is the minimum. The better you do in your prerequisite courses, the better your chances of getting into nursing school. Not to mention, the knowledge you acquire will benefit you in your nursing studies.
You will also need to take the Test of Essential Academic Skills or TEAS, and receive a minimum composite score of 76 or higher. This exam is designed to test your preparedness for entering a health science-related field. While your counselor will help you decide when to take the test, you will find a wealth of test prep resources online, many of which are free.
4. Write a compelling admissions essay (and be sure to have someone proofread it).
One of the final steps in the application process is submitting your resume and admissions essay. Your essay should clearly demonstrate your passion for the field of nursing and commitment to Mercer’s core values of social responsibility, service, and the promotion of health and quality of life. Before submitting your resume and essay, have someone — preferably with a knack for grammar and an eye for detail — read over them. Make clear to him or her that you are seeking honest, critical feedback. After all, your resume and essay are a reflection of the effort you will put into your nursing school studies.
Following your initial admissions call:
- Heed your enrollment counselor’s advice.
- Follow through and keep your enrollment counselor updated.
- Successfully complete your academic plan.
- Write a compelling admissions essay (and have someone edit it).
Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Mercer Nurse?
If you already have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, it may be possible to earn your nursing degree in as few as 12 months with Mercer University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. Give us a call at (844) 347-2108, or fill out the form, to learn more about this Atlanta-based second-degree accelerated nursing program.