Jobs for registered nurses are growing faster than average for other industries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and median wages are high -- $64,690 per year in 2010. That makes nursing an attractive profession for many people. To become a nurse, you must earn an associate or bachelor's degree at an accredited program. A number of factors influence your chances of being accepted to a nursing school, including grade point average and coursework.
Grade Point Average
The grades you earn in high school or college can have a big impact on your ability to get into nursing school. Some schools, like Emory University, simply state that academic performance is a key metric for admissions decisions. Other schools, like the University of Colorado Denver, state that a minimum GPA is required -- 3.0 in the case of that school. The more competitive your GPA is, the better your chances of getting into the school of your choice and of winning a scholarship or other aid.
Many nursing programs require students to take certain courses before they can be admitted. At Cayuga Community College in New York, students who wish to enter the nursing program must show algebra proficiency and complete certain courses in high school, including biology and chemistry. At Emory University, students who wish to enter the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program must complete 60 credit hours of college coursework, including courses such as chemistry, anatomy and statistics. It's important to review the requirements at the program you wish to enter and make sure you take the proper courses. If you have already graduated, you can complete the requirements through a continuing education program.
Test scores are used to evaluate a student's expected academic performance. High school students are expected to take either the SAT or ACT in order to be admitted. Students who are entering graduate programs must take the GRE. The better you score on these tests, the better your chances will be of being admitted into the program. At Columbia University, admissions officials look for students who scored in the top 50th percentile of each section of the GRE. Some schools, like Cayuga Community College, require students to take a special Nursing Entrance Exam specific to their program.
Letters of Recommendation
Letters of recommendation are also very influential in a decision on your application to nursing school. Officials at Columbia University say the best references come from a current employer or adviser who can attest either to skills in completing coursework or your professional skills. Getting references from people with a high profile will not help your application if those people do not know you personally and cannot attest to your abilities.
2016 Salary Information for Registered Nurses
Registered nurses earned a median annual salary of $68,450 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, registered nurses earned a 25th percentile salary of $56,190, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $83,770, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 2,955,200 people were employed in the U.S. as registered nurses.
- Emory Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing: BSN Programs
- Cayuga Community College: Nursing Program Admission
- Columbia University School of Nursing: Frequently Asked Questions
- Emory Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing: How to Successfully Apply to Nursing School
- Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Registered Nurses
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Registered Nurses
- Career Trend: Registered Nurses
Maria Magher has been working as a professional writer since 2001. She has worked as an ESL teacher, a freshman composition teacher and an education reporter, writing for regional newspapers and online publications. She has written about parenting for Pampers and other websites. She has a Master's degree in English and creative writing.