What to Do When You Are Waitlisted for Nursing School?

Waitlisted for nursing school

Great news when you receive that letter in the mail that you made it into your desired nursing program. Not so great when they tell you that you didn’t make the cut. Either way, you would either joyfully wait until it’s time to start your nursing journey or keep looking for suitable nursing programs. Where it becomes confusing is when they inform you that you are on a waiting list. Then what do you do? 

If you find yourself in that exact situation, look no further. This article will go into what it means to be waitlisted, what waitlists are for, and all the actions you can take to improve your situation. 

What Does It Mean to Be Waitlisted?

Naturally, most students feel disappointed when they learn that they are on a waitlist. But it is not the same as a rejection letter. All students on a waitlist met the minimum criteria for the program. Some nursing schools, however, receive more qualified applications than they have seats available in the program. 

 To make the most of your situation, you need to be familiar with the school’s policies about waitlists. These are structured differently in each program. Two things you should know:

  1. The list is ranked either by GPA(grade point average) or other criteria that the program uses to measure students against each other. Know these factors and work on them first. 
  2. Some programs start their waitlist over each year. If that is the case, you are often required to submit a new application each year.

What Are the Next Steps After Being Waitlisted?

It’s not easy to get going when you feel stuck and made to wait. But there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of getting in sooner.

Find out where you rank on the waitlist. 

Some waitlists rank their students and assign each student a specific number. It would be a good idea to find out what number you are on the list. That way, you can estimate how long it might take for you to get into the program. If the school doesn’t tell you where you rank, find out about last year’s numbers. Ask how many students were on the waitlist and how many of those made it into the program. 

Research the average time and longest wait time of your nursing program. 

Call the nursing department and find out how long students usually wait to get in and also what the longest waiting times were in the past. Knowing how long it will take to get a seat in the program can help you decide whether it is worth waiting or going a different way. 

Apply to other schools right away. 

Find out about other programs in the area and ask about their policies on waitlists and admission times. 

Take ALL your prerequisite courses 

Be sure to take all your pre-nursing courses before you enter the program. If you are waiting to get into an Associate’s degree program and plan on going further in your career, start taking pre-courses toward your Bachelor’s degree. It is best to have these courses out of the way so you can focus on nursing courses during your program, and it is a great opportunity to get ahead. 

Make sure your classes are up to date. 

Some prerequisite courses expire after a certain number of years. Be sure to send updates to the school but check with an advisor if updates on courses are required. There are nursing programs that do not want you to send them updated records because they only consider your first grades.

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

Re-take the entrance exam to increase your score. 

As mentioned above, this is a good idea if your particular program accepts updated scores. When that is the case, it is worth re-taking your entrance exam, given that they mostly have a high impact on your overall admission score. You might score much higher the second time because you already know what to expect. And you also have more time to look at the material again.

Take a job in the healthcare field.  

Being exposed to this environment before starting nursing school can be helpful. It will be easier to transition into a position as a nurse if you work at a hospital as a patient care technician(PCA). Areas, where it is especially challenging to get hired as a new grad nurse, can be a real advantage to have your foot in the door at the hospital. 

Working as a CNA can also help you at least with your first semester in nursing as that semester introduces you to the basics of patient care. 

What Is the Average Waitlist Time for an RN Program?

This is an important question because it will decide how you will move forward. As mentioned earlier, this would be a question for your nursing department since waiting times can vary. 

According to nightingale college, waitlists can take up to three years, but it also depends on the type of nursing program. 

Their article claims that community colleges and traditional two-year colleges have the longest wait, whereas BSN programs can also have long waiting times but not as long as ADN programs.

Related: Can You Get Into Nursing School With C’s?

Why Am I Waitlisted?

There are multiple reasons for being placed on a waiting list.

There is an overall noticeable trend that the demand for nurses is higher than there are nursing programs available. Therefore, nursing schools cannot keep up with the capacity needed to satisfy this high demand in nursing. 

Another factor is that there are not enough teachers available for nursing programs. This is another reason why nursing programs can only accept a certain amount of students per semester. 

Also, consider the area you live in, and it’s school density. An area with a lot of nursing programs might not need waitlists because they can handle the numbers of applications that they receive. However, a city that doesn’t have many nursing programs needs to implement a system to manage the high number of applicants.

This is where waitlists come in. And the more students that are on the waitlist, the more competitive it will be. 

How Can I Avoid Being Waitlisted?

It’s good to know that there are things that you can do while you wait to get into nursing school, but there are ways to avoid waitlists altogether. 

When searching for nursing programs, look for schools that don’t have them in the first place. Schools that don’t have waitlists rather admit based on the scores of entrance exams and GPA. At least you’ll know where you stand if you don’t get in. 

Try to achieve a high score on your entrance exam. If you didn’t score high on your first try, see if you can repeat the test and improve it. 

Check out less competitive schools. A lot of times these schools are private schools which means they are more expensive. But mostly they don’t have waitlists. That means if they send you a letter of admission, it will be a definitive one. 

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