Five Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Nursing School

Here are five common errors people make when choosing a nursing college.

student researching nursing schools

Looking for a nursing school is exciting—and stressful. It's an important decision for high school students and adults looking to advance their nursing careers. With nursing degree options, tuition costs and living expenses weighing on their minds, it's no wonder students can overlook some critical considerations when choosing a nursing college.

If you are on the verge of choosing a nursing school, rest assured that you can find the best college for you. But now's the time to do your homework to avoid making some common selection mistakes.

1. Failing to Determine What You Want in a School

Before you start searching for colleges, take some time to really decide what type of nursing school will provide the best learning environment for you.

Think about college location and size, living arrangements and social activities. Examine your expectations about class size, instructor accessibility, quality of research materials, computer labs and other factors that relate to your nursing specialty. Then visit the campuses that potentially meet your needs to get a better feel for what the environment is really like.

2. Not Visiting (Enough) Nursing Schools

You can't gain an accurate picture of campus life through brochures or Internet advertisements. Go in person to the nursing schools you're considering—and visit while classes are in session so you can get a sense of what it really feels like on campus.

During your visit, ask students how they like the nursing school, the instructors and any other questions you're wondering about.

Make appointments to meet with administrators, and get details about the nursing school's curriculum, tuition and living costs, financial aid options and anything else pertinent to your educational needs.

3. Choosing a School Based Solely on Rankings

Nursing school rankings can serve as guidelines for educational quality, but, in the end, they don't reflect whether a nursing school is truly a good match for you. A nursing school may have a great overall ranking, but it might be weak in your specialty area. Seek out the best program for you, even if it's at a less well-known nursing school.

4. Ignoring Real Nursing School Costs

Obviously, each nursing school will charge its own price for tuition, room and board, books, supplies and other fees. The financial aid benefits a school provides, on the other hand, may not be as straightforward.

One nursing school might provide as much total financial assistance as another, but some disbursements favor loans, which you have to repay, over scholarships and grants, which you do not. Carefully read the fine print for each nursing school to ensure that you understand where to find the most cost-effective education for you.

5. Letting Other People Make Decisions for You

Letting someone else lead the way in choosing your educational nursing path might save you time and stress in the short run, but it can cost you in terms of educational value, career relevance and the quality of your student life.

You might end up enrolled in a nursing college that does not suit you, or one that offers courses unrelated to your major career goal and interests. Plus, no one else's instincts about a school can substitute for your own.

Making this decision independently will help you feel confident about your education and provide you with greater ownership of the responsibilities that come with it.

Whether you're embarking on your first college experience or are continuing your education for career advancement, choosing the right nursing school requires careful consideration to avoid these common pitfalls. Take the time necessary to make a sound choice. You'll be thankful when you finally earn the nursing diploma that will prepare you for your chosen nursing career.