There are a lot of questions to ask yourself when deciding on the right nursing school for you. What kind of program do you want to attend? Do you want to stay in your area or move somewhere new? How much can you afford?
What does your schedule need to be like?
Decide What Kind of Nurse You Want to Be
This is the first step because it will help you decide where you should go to school. There are licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and registered nurses (RNs). LPNs usually go to school for about a year and graduate with a certificate diploma in nursing. RNs sometimes go to school for two years and get an associate’s of science in nursing, and sometimes go for four years and get a bachelor’s of science in nursing. You should think about how long you want to be in school before you start working. If there’s no rush, consider becoming an RN, as they can take on more responsibilities and frequently make more money. They also work more often in general and surgical hospitals. On the other hand, the benefits of becoming an LPN are that you can graduate in less time and start earning an income sooner. By only going to school for a year, you’ll also graduate with less student debt. And even if you choose to go to school part-time, you can still graduate in less than two years.
Decide on a Location
Where do you want to go to school? You can check out vocational schools, community colleges, and major universities. Some people can also enroll in LPN programs in high schools or at hospitals. Unless you live in a very rural area, chances are there is some kind of nursing program near you. You might also decide to move away for school, especially if there is a particular program out of state that you are interested in attending. If you have a whole list of options, you can also consider factors like how long the commute will be, what the campus is like, and what kind of resources are around the campus of which you can take advantage. You might also do some research to find out at what hospital and clinics the clinical rotations are held in so you can see how much extra travel time that will add to your commute.
Research Financial Aid Options
Of course, part of your decision will be made based on how much you can afford to spend on your education. But if you are strapped for cash, you don’t have to settle for a subpar institution. Many schools offer a lot of different financial aid options. Some of these will include loans, and others might include merit- or need-based scholarships that you don’t have to repay. And you can always look outside the institution as well. If you really want to go to a certain school but it is too expensive, check out nursing association websites – many of them offer scholarships and loans specifically to people who are majoring in nursing.
Ask about Course Options
For the most part, the curriculum in nursing programs will be pretty similar, the only differences being whether you choose to become an LPN, an RN with an associate’s, or an RN with a bachelor’s. There are other course factors to think about, however, such as what kind of schedule the school offers. If you can only go to school at night, you should make sure you go to a college that offers evening classes! You might also want to ask about the possibility of taking classes online, particularly if you have a very busy schedule. Chances are you won’t be able to take all your classes online, or will at least have to come in for exams, so you should prepare to at least attend campus occasionally.