Becoming a nurse is one of the most challenging career paths someone can take. Yet those who make this decision often find the challenge is well worth the reward. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for nurses nationwide in 2018 was $71,730 annually, with the highest average salary going to nurses working in California at $102,700 per year. On top of that, benefits are usually superior when compared to other career paths.
Finding the right nursing school can be a challenge as well. Hundreds of both private and public universities across the country offer two year and four year nursing degrees. If you’re currently enrolled in a nursing program and recently had a change of heart about your school, there are certain steps you must follow for transferring nursing schools.
Research is Important
Nursing is a notoriously hard college program for acceptance, regardless of the school. Doing some extensive research to help find your next nursing school will help mitigate some of the headache when applying in the future.
First, determine whether or not you’re going to complete a two year or four year program. While a two year program is sufficient for entry level nursing jobs, most major hospitals will likely require a four year degree.
Next, choose the type of college you want to attend. While you might find that applying to a private nursing school is easier than a public institution, private colleges are more expensive and some don’t carry the proper accreditation. There are also online nursing school options.
Once you’ve narrowed your search for your next nursing school to five, you’ll need to find the following information for each one:
- NCLEX Passing Rate – This will tell you how many graduates have actually passed the board exams.
- Tuition Costs – You’ll need to determine whether or not you can afford to go to each school.
- Reviews – Look up graduate reviews for the school. An abundance of negative reviews should be a sign to look elsewhere.
Another major headache that you might run into, while transferring nursing schools, is your school of choice won’t accept credits from your previous school.
Time and money are important. Before you take the big step of transferring to a different school, make sure that your credits will transfer with you.
Here’s what you need to know about transferring nursing school credits:
- Credit Limits – Most schools limit the amount of credits you can transfer. Check with the admissions representative at your school to determine how many you can take with you.
- Course Matching – While nursing courses are pretty standard across the board, some schools might require more basic education courses than other schools. Make yourself aware of any additional credit requirements that might lengthen your time in college.
- Speak with a Knowledgeable Person – Never guess when it comes to transferring college credits. Speak with an admissions representative or counselor and show them your transcripts. They’ll tell you exactly what you need and give you a course road map for future success.
Preparing for the NCLEX Exams
The nursing board exams are notoriously difficult to pass. A large portion of test takers must repeat the test at least once before they obtain a passing score.
To avoid having to do this, you should make sure your new nursing school will properly prepare you for the test prior to graduation.
- Review Accreditation – Is the school accredited nationally as well as regionally? Regionally accredited schools usually are the best choice when it comes to nursing programs. They’ll provide in-depth classes and hands-on training to help prepare you for the exam.
- Audit Classes – If possible, sit in on some classes. This will help give you a good idea about the quality of the professors and the thoroughness of the course material.
- Passing Rate – The NCLEX passing rate for each school is readily available online. While this won’t be a definitive sign about the quality of the school because each student is different, a low passing percentage should be taken into account when looking at all the factors.
Transferring nursing schools: 2 year Program to 4 Year Program
One of the more popular reasons to transfer is the desire to complete a four year nursing degree.
Many community colleges offer direct transfer programs into local four year universities. To ensure you’re ready to transfer, speak with your college counselor and review your transcripts. If you’re missing any credits, the college might let you complete them prior to transferring and still sign an acceptance letter to guarantee admission.
If you plan on going this route, make sure your grades are at a B average or above, and that you have a plan in place to pay for tuition.