If you attend nursing school straight out of high school, you'll be poised to enjoy a long career in one of the country's fastest-growing professions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the registered nursing profession to grow faster than other professions through 2020. To hit the ground running, you must complete some nursing school prerequisites in high school; otherwise, you'll be required to take them at the college level before you can apply to a nursing program.

Two-Year Program

An associate's degree in nursing, or ADN, which can be earned at a two-year college, qualifies you to take the NCLEX-RN, the nursing licensing exam. Most two-year colleges require you to have earned a high school diploma or General Educational Development for your nursing program application to be considered. Additionally, you're expected to have taken high school-level biology, chemistry and math, specifically algebra, and earned at least a C or better.

Four-Year Program

You also can become a registered nurse by enrolling in a four-year college or university right after high school. You'll earn a bachelor's degree, or BSN, and you'll be able to take the NCLEX-RN after four-years of study rather than two. You must meet the college's general admissions requirements, including having earned your high school diploma or GED. In general, you must have taken high school-level courses and received a grade of C or better in English, biology, chemistry, physics and math, including Algebra I, II and higher. You also may be required to have taken foreign languages, depending on the college.

The Difference

Nursing school graduates who earn ADNs and BSNs work side by side as entry-level registered nurses in the workplace. However, the most significant advantage to having a BSN is becoming eligible for advanced nursing jobs that require a BSN, such as nurse manager, sooner than an RN with only an ADN, once you gain on-the-job experience. BSN programs also offer a wider range of nursing courses that will help you become eligible for advanced practice nursing graduate programs sooner than RNs with only an ADN. These programs lead to degrees such as the master's of science in nursing or nurse practitioner.

Before Graduation

If you earn a D or fail a nursing school prerequisite between ninth and eleventh grades in high school, you must take the course again. If this happens, consider retaking the course in the summer session if offered at your school or one nearby. If math and science are your weak subjects, you also might ask your parents or guardians to hire a tutor or seek additional help after school if offered by your teacher.

Post High School

If you earn a D or fail a nursing school prerequisite in your senior year, you'll have no choice but to retake it at the college level after you graduate. If you wish to apply to nursing school sooner rather than later, enroll in the course during the summer after graduation. If the college where you wish to apply for nursing school offers placement tests, you can undertake self-study for subjects such as math and English. Then take the placement test. If you pass, you more than likely won't have to take the courses to apply to the nursing program.

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