Knowing how to stand out in your nursing school application can greatly increase your chances of selection by an admissions committee. The application can include quite a few documents that inform the committee about your academic achievements, your passion for the field, your credibility, and more. You may also have an opportunity to impress with your answers to nursing school interview questions if you prepare well. Just like any medical field, nursing school admissions are competitive, as shown by nursing school acceptance rates in the US, which is why a candidate must try to go above and beyond with their application.
Read on to learn what to work on to make your nursing school application stand out.
>>Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here.<<
What Is the Process for Applying to Nursing Schools?
The first way to make your nursing school application stand out is to understand the application process and what it entails. In the US, most nursing schools use the Nursing Centralized Application Service or NursingCAS. It is operated by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), which represents 800 member schools. There are over 300 institutions that accept NursingCAS applications.
Would you like to learn why "show, don’t tell" is the most important rule of any personal statement? Watch this video:
NursingCAS allows candidates to apply to multiple programs at different schools through a single online application and one set of materials. The application process requires a candidate’s personal information, academic history, supporting information, and program-specific materials.
Note that there are also some institutions that do not follow the NursingCAS system and have their own independent application processes. The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) College of Nursing is one such example, as it asks for candidates’ transcripts to be submitted electronically by their counselor/registrar through the TREx system managed by the Texas Education Agency. Official SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test), ACT (American College Test), TSI (Texas Success Initiative) Assessment, and/ or GED (Test of General Educational Development) scores also need to be sent to UTEP. Similarly, the Aurora University School of Nursing, Illinois, also does not follow the NursingCAS system and requires transcripts to be sent either physically or electronically by the high school or college. Submission of SAT or ACT scores is not mandatory for admission.
In Canada, there is no centralized application system like NursingCAS. However, while there are some medical schools that don’t require CASPer, several nursing programs use this online, open-response situational judgment test (SJT). It informs the admissions committee of not only your academic capabilities, but also your personal and professional qualities. The 100-to-120-minute test contains 15 scenarios, text and video-based, that the candidate must respond to within the time limit. It is scored by professionals and sent directly to the programs the applicant has selected.
Some of the nursing schools in Canada that use the CASPer test include:
- Dalhousie University School of Nursing
- McGill Ingram School of Nursing
- McMaster University School of Nursing
- Fanshawe College
- Trent/Fleming School of Nursing
- University of British Columbia School of Nursing
There are also some schools in Canada that do not follow the CASPer test system and have their own application process, such as Douglas College in British Columbia for its Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program, which prioritizes candidates who complete the Academic Foundations for Potential Nursing Applicants (AFNURS) program first.
Several US nursing schools use CASPer, including Bellevue College, Colorado Mountain College, Northern Arizona University, University of Arkansas, Hofstra University, and University of Texas Health Science Center.
If you’re applying to a nursing school that uses CASPer, it means they value this type of assessment. Therefore, if you wish to attract the attention of such a school, you’ll want to be aware of CASPer test dates and start looking at key CASPer test question categories and CASPer test question types so that you can perform well on the test and send your application to the top of the pile.
How to Stand Out in Your Nursing School Application
There are quite a few facets of a nursing school application. Depending on whether you are applying for an undergraduate or graduate nursing program, you will need to submit a cover letter, nursing school application resume, letters of recommendation, and possibly a mature student nursing personal statement.
The most effective way to stand out in your nursing school application is to take every single component seriously and do your best to provide excellent materials and performance in ALL the following areas:
Additionally, you can research the nursing program you are applying to and tailor your application to fit its specific requirements and goals. This will show that you are committed to the program and have a clear understanding of what it entails. Whether it is the written part of your application or the interview part, understanding your audience is always beneficial.
Additional Tips for Enhancing Your Nursing School Application
Show Your Commitment and Passion
Nursing school requires a lot of commitment and passion. It is very important for the admissions committee to believe that you are committed to the field of nursing. They need to know if you can put in the hours and go beyond, if necessary. But first, you need to evaluate your life and ask yourself if you can successfully take on the challenge. Think about your responsibilities, your career path, and what you aim to achieve. One opportunity to do this is while you are exploring how to write the “what nursing means to me” reflective essay. Once you have a clear picture, you will be better able to convey your conviction to a nursing school of your choice and boost your chances of getting in.
You can also show commitment by showing consistency. If your portfolio/resume indicates that you have stuck with whatever you started, and that you took initiatives to upgrade your skills, you will move higher in the list of applicants.
The admissions committee can also gauge whether you are passionate about becoming a nurse by seeing whether your motivations are humanitarian, monetary, or related to job security.
Along with academic intelligence, emotional intelligence will have an impact on decision makers. Your application, and especially your personal statement, should show your compassion, patience, empathy, and genuine care for other people. Emphasizing volunteer work in your application is a great way to demonstrate this.
Use Your Communication Skills
Good communication skills – both written and verbal – are at the core of the nursing role, especially for in-person interventions with patients, collaboration with colleagues, and teamwork. Being a nurse, you will be required on a daily basis to communicate with other nurses, doctors, patients, patients’ families, staff, and others. Therefore, while drafting your letter of intent, cover letter, or personal statement, make sure the points you are trying to make come across clearly.
Effectively communicating with interviewers is also paramount. In addition to focusing on your content, you must also practice how you deliver it. Work on your body language and confidence. Dress appropriately (what to wear to your medical school interview also applies to nursing interviews), sit up straight, maintain eye contact with the person asking the question, and keep a smile on your face.
Many interviews will start with the nursing school interview question “tell me about yourself,” which may sound simple enough but can be a bit challenging. Engaging in mock interviews in the style of the mock medical school interview can help you gain confidence to address this question and many others. Contact BeMo for nursing essay writing services or additional help with nursing school behavioral interview questions by scheduling a free strategy call.
Effective communication skills are critical for success in nursing school and in the nursing profession. The following are the most important skills to highlight at all steps of your application:
Developing strong communication skills is an essential part of being a successful nurse. As a nursing student, it's important to focus on building these skills and practicing them in clinical and classroom settings.
Nursing is a relatively competitive branch of medicine, but if you know how to stand out in your nursing school application, your chances of getting through are significantly higher. If you know what the nursing school admissions committee is looking for, your application can be tailored to meet their demands.
1. What is NursingCAS and how is it beneficial for me?
NursingCAS is a centralized service operated by AACN that allows candidates to apply to multiple programs at different schools through a single online application and set of materials. The application process requires your personal information, academic history, supporting information, and program-specific materials.
2. What is the CASPer test and which schools use it?
The CASPer test is an online, open-response situational judgment test (SJT). The 100-to-120-minute test contains 15 scenarios, text and video-based, that the candidate must respond to within the time limit.
3. What is the difference between a nursing school cover letter and personal statement?
A nursing school cover letter is typically shorter and more formal compared to a personal statement. It focuses more on your relevant experience and academic achievements.
4. How many letters of recommendation do I need for my nursing school application?
Nursing schools will mention how many letters of recommendation a candidate must submit. Typically, they ask for two to three letters, but it is also possible that they make it optional. In such cases, we recommend to still submit at least two, as this will strengthen your application.
5. How important is it to be able to communicate well as a nurse?
Communication skills are of utmost importance for a nurse. These are skills a candidate needs to develop throughout their lives, especially in nursing school. As a nurse, you will be required to speak with patients, doctors, staff, other nurses, and families, so you need to have the patience and composure to have these conversations.
6. Do I need an admissions consultant to get into nursing school?
Investing in nursing school admissions consulting can help you maximize your chances of admission by providing expert and informed advice, strengthening your application, imparting valuable skills, and managing stress.
7. How long should my nursing school cover letter be?
Typically, a cover letter should be no more than one page, unless otherwise specified by the school.
8. What documents will I need for my nursing school application?
Depending on the nursing school, a candidate can be asked for transcripts, a resume, cover letter, personal statement, letter of intent, and letter of recommendation. Schools typically do not ask for all these documents.
Like our blog? Write for us! >>
Have a question? Ask our admissions experts below and we'll answer your questions!