Penn State Altoona

Hi! I got into Penn State Altoona for nursing. Is their program good and if anyone can share their experiences it would be greatly appreciated!!

It’s a direct-entry program so kudos to you! It’s got a nice campus and is one of the “real”, residential, 4-year branch campuses.
@jlhpsu ?

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Nursing schools are competitive so congratulations for getting accepted to a direct entry program!

Altoona is a beautiful campus and the nursing program is the exact same program you’d get at the main campus…meaning, when you graduate, you can say you have a Penn State nursing degree.
My son started at Altoona and it was a terrific experience for him. That said, it is a very different experience than UP campus. It’s about 4000 students so it’s a smaller campus but that can be a great benefit in a difficult program like nursing.
One benefit of Altoona over UP campus is that you won’t have to leave to go to Hershey for a year. UP nursing students must spend a year at Hershey medical center and some students do not like uprooting themselves from State College for a year. At Altoona, you would not have to do that. You would stay in Altoona for all four years. Another benefit is that it’s less expensive than UP campus.

Nursing is a weird field in that BSN-prepared nurses do not really get paid more than diploma or community college nurses. As long as you all pass your boards (NCLEX) then you are a registered nurse, and where you went for your training really doesn’t matter. Many hospital systems are looking for BSN-prepared nurses because it helps their Magnet status and studies show increased patient safety with higher percentages of BSN nurses on staff, but few are really willing to pay them more. So, my advice to new nurses (I’m a BSN nurse by the way), is to go to the least expensive school that you like. Come out with the least amount of debt, because you will not be making more than someone who went to a two year program. The BSN Is immensely important to further your career as you will have the options to move into higher paying jobs eventually and it prepares you for grad school if you want to be a nurse practitioner or other master prepared level nurse - but as a new nurse you will be getting paid the same as every other new nurse.

Do you have other programs in PA that you are using for comparison?


Thank you so much for replying!!
Currently, I’m comparing Penn State Altoona and UConn but tuition-wise, Penn State Altoona is in more favor.
If possible, do you know how campus life was like for your son at Altoona and if you have any advice for new nurses that would be great!

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My son loved Altoona. He made so many friends and loved the tight knit campus. He found plenty to do, but also had good relationships to the staff and professors because when there are only 30 kids in a class, everyone gets to know everyone. This was key in helping my son navigate all of the procedural things and also, to get help if he was struggling in a class. He would have stayed at Altoona all four years if they’d had his major.

New Nurse Advice: Always know that you don’t know everything. I’ve seen many new BSN nurses come in and think because they have a BSN and other nurses on the unit have an associates, that they know more. Wrong. Experience trumps everything first of all. Secondly, as a BSN prepared nurse the things you will learn over what an associates RN learns is research and writing about research. Everything you need to know to actually take care of the patient is taught in both programs.
Nursing is a wonderful and versatile profession but it has its pitfalls. Just make sure you are going into it for the right reasons.