What Nursing Schools (BSN) Should I Explore?

Hi everyone! It’s the second-semester junior year which means standardized testing and college research time! I am interested in doing nursing as an undergrad, and would love to receive some feedback on schools or general things to ponder!
Stats Current
4.33 W GPA
(my school does not report an unweighted GPA until later, but in my first semester, it is a 3.8)
I took my first SAT test, will take it again in May.
I also plan to submit music and art supplements for colleges, since I started doing music at 4 years old, so I am competing in music internationally and attend a youth state orchestra currently
Current courses (Junior year right now): AP Calculus AB, AP Psychology (self-study, taking general psychology in school right now, AP Chinese (foreign language), physics, English Honors, Regular US History
Senior Yr APs/Courses: AP Art History, AP Stats, AP Lang, Anatomy+Physiology, AP or Regular Gov/Econ (required for my school)
Community college courses for high school concurrent enrollment in:

  • Fundamentals of Music Theory (for my visual arts credits for high school)
  • Computing Basics (interest during freshman year)
  • Human Nutrition
  • Child Growth & Development

School Activities

  • Treasurer of Art Club since sophomore year

  • Co-president of Nursing Club at our school

recently registered for Biology and Chemistry at the community college
I volunteer at a summer camp as a camp counselor for kids 3-4th grade for the past summers, I also volunteer at E-buddies (Best Buddies), and volunteer at senior home centers! During the summer, I spend time teaching kids the flute and a lot at the senior homes where I accompany their garden walks and talk with them.

I hope this was not an eye sore to read. And any help/advice is sooo welcome! Thank you all!

Beside the usual criteria like cost, consider the following:

  1. Some nursing majors are direct admit for frosh admission. These are often much more competitive than the college as a whole, so be careful making reach/match/likely/safety assumptions based on the overall college frosh profile. In addition, check carefully what requirements the nursing major has to stay in the major. Some impose very high college GPA requirements that likely result in many direct admit nursing majors being “weeded out” of the major.
  2. Some nursing majors are not direct admit, but either have students enter as general undeclared or as pre-nursing students. This is followed by secondary admission later based on college record, essays, and other criteria. For colleges with non direct admit nursing majors, consider how difficult or competitive the secondary admission processes are.
  3. Some nursing majors have a portion of students enter as direct admit and another portion through secondary admission.
  4. Pass rates for the NCLEX (nursing licensing exam) should be noted for each college’s nursing major.

The excellence of a nursing program is going to be strongly tied to clinical opportunities, so location is very important. This is usually going to mean a big city.

Boston is a major center for medical research, so I’d start there. Both Boston College and Northeastern both have very good nursing problems.

However, I don’t know where you live or what your preferences are for a college location are. Most big cities have some colleges with good nursing programs. Because clinical experience is so important, I would look closely at the logistics of commuting between campus and clinical placements. Logistics at some schools are very difficult, while in other locations the colleges make it easy by providing a van for their nursing students. Having a car can also make life simpler.

Begin thinking now about pursuing a nurse practitioner degree post college. Not necessary, but it opens doors to a lot of opportunities. Because undergraduate clinical placements can lead to very good job opportunities, you could end up living where you go to college. Not necessarily of course. But given that possibility, it’s good to know what the nurse practitioner opportunities in the area are as well.

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Looks as if you will be a very competitive applicant for even the best programs. How much can your family afford to pay for college for you? What state do you live in? You probably have at least one in-state public college direct admit BSN program, that you should apply to - this is likely to be your cheapest best value option. Aside from that, unless you won’t qualify for aid and your family doesn’t want to pay for an expensive school, consider these top 20 programs in the country, as listed on nurse.org. There’s a lot of other useful info, too about how to choose the right program for you.

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Think about what size school you want as well as location. I would also recommend a direct entry program since it will save you a lot of stress trying to apply into a competitive program! I would also look into how different programs treat your community college credits- your in-state universities may be your best best for them to transfer. Good luck! I went through the process this year, so let me know if you have any questions!

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You want a direct admit to the nursing major. Review NCLEX pass rates. Pick the most affordable option.

Going to a college in a nursing compact state and taking your NCLEX there allows you more options after graduation on places to work.


I would be suspect of a list like this for a couple of reasons.

First, several of the schools on the list (Duke, Johns Hopkins, Yale) don’t even have undergraduate nursing programs.

Second, some others aren’t direct admit, so you won’t even know if you’ll be accepted into their nursing school until after you get there.

Third, location may limit access to the best clinical opportunities.

Finally, there is no explanation of the criteria used to develop the list. The fact that all except Boston College are major research universities suggests that they were selected based on their research production rather than the quality of their preparation for professional practice.

If I were to use a ranking list to generate ideas for schools to apply to, I would prefer one like the one at niche:


At least anyone can evaluate the niche list because they tell you the criteria on which they based their selections. Then you can decide for yourself whether you agree or disagree with those criteria.

Better yet, contact some nursing schools in areas where you would like to go to school and ask them for a list of hospitals where they place their students for clinical. Then find out how many of their students actually receive placements in the top hospitals on the list. If you’re going to learn best professional practices, the only way to do that is to train in hospitals which actually employ those practices.

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Be sure to consider the weed-out GPA for direct admit nursing majors. A program with a weed-out GPA of 2.2 will be much less stressful than one with a weed-out GPA of 3.75.

Hi! YES I have been looking at Boston too, because I am on the West Coast, and California nursing schools are so so competitive and big. But I will definitely check out more about Boston, and thank you so much for the information, I took note of it!! :slight_smile:

Hi! Do you mind explaining what “weed-out” means? Thank you!

Hi @Livvyxoxo !! I haven’t thought about the transfer yet, I will quickly go research that, thank you! And yes, I am also looking at in-state colleges too, thank you so much!!

Hi @parentologist Thank you for your help!! My parents are prepared with college savings for a pretty long time. Ohh I see, I will talk to them more about aids of any kind! I currently live in California, so I am eyeing at CSU or UC systems! But I will check out the nurse.org website, thank you sooo much for your help!

It means that if you do not achieve the specified college GPA (or grades in specific courses), you are dismissed from the nursing major. There may be variations, like whether you may be given a semester probation to bring it up, or whether the GPA must be for each semester or cumulative, etc…

Boston is a great place! In addition to BC and Northeastern, you can also check out some of the schools in the suburbs that do their clinicals in Boston. Endicott and Curry College are both options you could explore. Simmons College is right near all of the hospitals. It’s an all girl’s school, so not sure if you want that, but it’s in a prime location.

You have many fine in-state public school options in California. That’s going to be your best deal, by far. I agree, go for the direct admit programs - your stats are certainly good enough to get you in. But if for some reason you really want to pay the big bucks, consider Penn. Excellent hospital right next to campus - both adult and children’s. You live in the dorms with all the other Penn students, you can take classes in any of the schools.

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I think 3.0 or higher is pretty standard for nursing programs. Considering how competitive it is to get into a direct entry bsn program, it’s important to maintain good grades. Your patients life might depend on it.

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@ucbalumnus Ohh got it, I see. I will see each school’s weed-out criteria, thank you for teaching me this!! thank you for all your help!!
@Livvyxoxo OOH YES! I am putting these colleges on my list, thank you so much. I am a little apprehensive about girl’s schools, but I don’t know much, I will research more. Thank you so much!!
@parentologist Yes, I will definitely look into Cali’s schools! Yes, I love Penn, and dreaming of that school, and I did not know about the children’s hospital, that is so cool, thank you so much!!
@2plustrio ahahah yes good point! Do you know any direct entry bsn programs that could act as a “Safety” school? Thanks for your help!!

Thank you for everyone for the support!

Since you’re from Cal & not familiar with Boston, here’s a little about pursuing nursing education in Boston.

First, Boston is an easy city to get around by by public transit. The “T” is their rail system for commuters. Longwood Medical Area in Boston is home to 4 major research hospitals, several smaller ones, and Harvard Medical School. A lot of clinical placements are here. Further downtown, Mass General and Tufts-New England, the other big research hospitals.

Boston College is a medium size (9000 undergrads) university with a nursing school of about 450 students. They have a pretty campus located in an affluent residential neighborhood on the city line, mostly in the suburb of Newton. A “T” stop is right there. They provide a lot of support to their nursing students, i.e. 4 years guaranteed on campus housing, early morning shuttles to clinical placements. Traditional college experience with big time sports, clubs, etc.

Northeastern is bigger (19,000 undergrads) with a nursing enrollment of 400. It has a well groomed city campus within walking distance of the Longwood Medical Area. The cornerstone of a Northeastern education is their coop component, which means placements in work environments in your field - two 6 month placements in a 4 year track or 3 in a 5 year track. The coop placements don’t have to be done in Boston and could in fact be done back home in California. The benefit is that you already work experience when you are applying for a job and that tuition is spread over 5 years if you choose the 5 year track.

Simmons is a small (1800 undergrads) 120 year old women’s college focused on pre-professional education with about 600 nursing students. About half the students are enrolled in health related majors. Their campus is in the Longwood neighborhood, literally across the street from the medical campus. Compact campus with a traditional feel, centered around a green quadrangle. Easy to get around.

For someone who wants to focus all their energy on nursing prep, MCPHS (Massachusetts College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences) is a 200 year old university focused on health sciences. Also in the Longwood area. Very urban with moderately high rise buildings for both academic buildings and dorms. Moderately priced, it is a hidden gem for those who are very career focused.

Certainly lots of good options for nursing schools in California as well.

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Just an FYI, make sure that your college transcript as well as your AP test scores are included in your transcript. If the college courses are not included, there is no guarantee that the admission counselor will try to hunt them down to include them if they are recalculating the GPA.

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@Bill_Marsh Thank you so so so much! I have been looking at Northeastern and Boston College, and this is so helpful. I will do more research into these schools. Thank you for all your help and support!

@ECmotherx2 Yes! I will definitely remind myself for that, thank you so much for the heads up! :))