So you’ve decided to become a nurse and you’re ready to get the needed education, but with thousands of colleges throughout the United States alone, how in the world can anyone know how to choose the right college for their nursing degree? Should you shoot for “one of the top schools” or should you look at a college which is cheaper, local, and willing to work around your schedule? This is a decision that cannot be taken lightly as it affects everything down the line. You need to make the right decision here in order to set yourself up for your career goals.
Deciding to pursue a nursing career is a bold step, but it is only the beginning. No matter how long you’ve been thinking about becoming a nurse, it is critical to make sure you match yourself with the best nursing program for your goals, desires, and whatever specialties you are most interested in. This isn’t always what college is simply best, seeing as how different interests and specialties can lead you to different places. Also, a nursing college doesn’t do you any good if you turn out to not like the campus environment there. You want something that matches with you.
The top nursing schools currently (2009) are as follows: University of Pennsylvania, University of California, Columbia University New York, University of Washington, University of North Carolina, University of Illinois, Pittsburg University, John Hopkins University, Yale University, and University of Michigan. Do you see where this is going? All of these colleges listed are specific for specialties, as well as having ‘General’ Associate Arts degrees, as well as BSN, and Master Degree Programs.
Even if you can get into these schools, it is still important to study their listings to see what they offer since many of these schools offer ‘specialties within specialties’. One example is the University of Pennsylvania which offers nursing specialty classes in Pediatrics, Family nursing, and Gerontology, while the University of Washington also offers Pediatric and Family Practice nursing specialties. You don’t want to choose one college over another only to find the one you didn’t choose specializes in what you are actually interested in.
One issue that has to be dealt with is the soaring cost of education. As of 2009 the average cost of attending one of these top ten nursing programs is $ 875.00 per credit hour for Undergraduate classes, and that number is sure to go up every single year. This isn’t even including annual student service fees, books, and other required charges. If this seems like too much, there is some good news: there are plenty of funding options. Government Aid programs offer many qualified students money for their education, and even banks will often give out student loans.
Knowing that top schools cost more money, it’s worth looking at taking your basic General Education requirements at a cheaper local community college or online course program. This can be a great strategy; but make sure the credits transfer before jumping in.
Just because you don’t want to, or can’t, get into a top ten nursing program doesn’t mean you’re in trouble. Nursing is a high demand profession with no shortage of open jobs, and there are literally hundreds of good nursing programs across the country that offer a quality education, excellent training for the certification exam as well as hands on experience. Any of these will set you on the right path to achieving your career dream of becoming a nurse.