Can You Get Into Nursing School With C’s?

can you get into nursing school with c's

Nursing is one of the most challenging and in-demand professions you could choose. Almost everyone has reason to thank a nurse at some point in their life, so it’s no wonder many people consider taking on this demanding job. But what can you do, if your attitude is in the right place, but your grades are so-so?

It is possible to get into nursing school with C’s. Your chances of acceptance depend on the competitiveness of the school from which you are seeking admission, the strength of all parts of your application, and the kind of nursing program. 

If you’re a C student considering a nursing program, don’t lose hope. There’s nothing you can do to raise your past grades, but there’s plenty you can do to convince an admissions office that you’re a worthy candidate. This article will cover the different types of nursing programs, parts of the application process, and some tips to make your application stronger. 

Nursing Programs That Are More Likely to Accept C Grades or a Low GPA

There are thousands of nursing programs out there. It would be impossible to name them all here. But there are certain things that you have to consider when applying with a low GPA or mostly C’s in your transcript. That should narrow your search down a bit and help you find the right college or university.

This might not be true for all schools, but there is a tendency for private schools to be less competitive than public schools or community colleges. Usually, public schools have many more applications to sort out because they are less expensive than private colleges. To process all applications, public schools tend to have more competitive elements that make it more difficult to be accepted. Therefore, some of these programs require a very high GPA or high entrance test scores. Public schools can also have very long waiting lists for that reason.

Private schools are usually less competitive. However, that does not mean that they can’t be competitive at all. It simply means that there still might be a minimum GPA that you have to have to make it into the program. That minimum GPA requirement might just be lower than in other schools. Also, as mentioned earlier, a financial disadvantage is that private schools are much more expensive. 

Some schools don’t have a minimum GPA at all. But when you look for these schools, make sure you find out about the entire admission requirements that they have. 

In any case, you should find out about all the admission criteria of the school. It might be tempting to only look at the minimum GPA; however, even schools requiring a low GPA may have other criteria that you need to know. 

If your GPA is enough to get in, there might be other factors that could hold you back. For example, some schools accept C grades or higher for science courses regardless of your GPA. So even if your GPA is satisfactory, D’s and F’s, as well as failed classes or entire nursing programs, may negatively affect the selection process.

GOOD TO KNOW: One thing that you should be aware of is that you might have to be somewhat flexible to move to a different city or even another state to join a nursing program that fits your needs. There might be schools out there that would be willing to accept you with a low GPA, but that school might be in a different city or state. 

Related: Failing Nursing School? Realistic Advice to Turn Things Around

Tips to Boost Your Chances

Looking for nursing programs that accept C’s isn’t the only thing you can do. There are other options. 

Improve Your GPA

Before you panic about bad grades, try to put them in perspective. Nursing programs probably aren’t too concerned if you have lackluster grades in English, Social Studies, or other unrelated fields. Your Maths, Biology, Chemistry, and related subjects are going to count for a lot more in this situation.

So, what can you do if your Math and Science grades aren’t great? If you’ve already completed some college coursework, you can boost that GPA by taking more courses in those key subjects or retaking a class if this is permitted. This shows an admissions office your determination to follow your dreams. 

If you made some bad choices in the past and have bad course grades on your transcript that don’t really reflect your study habits today, this is a great starting point. 

With that said, certain schools will only allow you to retake the class a certain number of times. Unfortunately, some school’s policies won’t let students repeat a course at all. Be sure you find out about the details of these policies. Ask if you can retake any class that you would like to repeat or only failed classes. For some schools, the grade has to be “bad” enough to repeat the course. C’s are sometimes not considered that.

TIP: The retaken course grade is added to the transcript and therefore raises the GPA. Your new grade won’t replace the old grade. So when choosing classes that you want to repeat, be sure you have enough time to invest in the course. Be sure you can make a better grade than your previous one. If you make the same grade or worse, it will not change your GPA but lower it. Usually, a class is easier the second time that you take it. Just be aware that this idea of repeating courses can easily backfire if you are not prepared.

You also want to be sure that these courses count towards your GPA that your nursing program considers. Some nursing programs don’t look at the cumulative GPA, which is the GPA from all your classes taken. Instead, they only consider specific prerequisites (science-based) for their program. 

The school you are attending might not allow you to retake a course. So, in this case, you would complete these courses before you apply, either at the school you ultimately wish to attend or elsewhere. A word of caution: If you choose to complete these courses somewhere else, it’s best to check with your desired program to make sure your credits will transfer.

You can also withdraw from a course if you know you will fail the class or receive a grade that will not be sufficient for nursing school. A “W” can’t count against your GPA, after all. Some schools might consider it a problem if you have a lot of courses that you withdrew. For the most part, you should be fine. 

Related: What to Do When You Are Waitlisted for Nursing School?

Bring Out The Best In You 

Another strategy to help you get accepted is to make sure all the other parts of your application are sound. Study for your entrance exams and prepare to do your best—volunteer in a health care setting. Write a compelling personal statement and request strong letters of recommendation to help the admissions team get a complete picture of who you are and why you would be a good fit. If an interview is part of the admissions process, prepare to make a great impression.

Be Realistic About Nursing Degree Requirements

When narrowing your list of nursing programs, read the degree requirements carefully to ensure you can realistically meet them. Another important thing to consider is the GPA requirements for remaining in your nursing program. Look at the acceptance and graduation statistics and the workload carefully and be prepared to honestly assess whether you are ready for the challenge.

Straight Talk: Meeting an Admissions Counselor

Suppose you feel that special circumstances surround your grades, such as a serious illness or other major life events. In that case, It might not hurt to include the relevant details in a letter when you submit your other application materials. 

If your grades are still worrisome, the best thing to do might be to set up a meeting with an admissions counselor before applying. The admissions counselor can give you the clearest picture of what is required and what the school is looking for in your application. Be honest about your grades and your concerns, and be ready to accept honest feedback and advice.  

There is a lot to consider when choosing a nursing program that is a good fit for your academic and career goals. In the US, there are almost 1,000 nursing baccalaureate programs alone. There’s a good chance that one of these programs is right for you.

Image: Roman Samborskyi/123RF

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