Written By: Akaanksha Rishi
Akaanksha is currently a second-year Nursing major at the University of Washington.
"I joined HeyMentor because as a first-generation student, I wanted to support students who, like myself, struggled to navigate the pathways to pursue higher education. I thoroughly enjoy getting to know my mentees and supporting their dreams to attend college."
There are many routes to achieving your BSN that go beyond the traditional four-year university experience. Here are some examples of pathways:
This does not take into account the requirements that may come as a result of differing systems (quarter/semester) which depend on the institution. This is something to pay particular attention to as a transfer student. Along with this, certain institutions may require entrance exams. Both can add to the timeline of earning your BSN.
Considering All Pathways
When you are planning for your future, especially from the perspective of a high school student, it may seem difficult to consider experiences that differ from what the majority of your peers may choose to pursue. Whether that is transferring to a four-year university immediately after high school or choosing to pursue your education at a community college. No matter the choice, there is no right or wrong path to becoming a nurse.
It is important to place significance on the end goal which is earning your BSN and becoming a registered nurse. Personally, I struggled with the idea of not pursuing my education at a four-year university like all my high school friends. While I was enrolled in the running start program, where I completed a majority of the nursing prerequisites, I felt pressured to transfer to a university like all my friends. I was distracted by the societal norm of attending a University created by individuals pursuing different careers than me. Socially, the idea of continuing my education at the community college seemed like a mistake while it may have been the more efficient pathway.
However, there are positives and negatives with every decision. If I had stayed at the community college after high school to complete my outstanding prerequisites, I would have saved a lot of time and money. However, I would not have had the college experience with my friends that I dreamed of experiencing. I made a conscious decision to transfer to a University and apply to nursing schools in that position. Although, there are benefits to transferring to universities from a community college such as a guaranteed admission (DTA or Direct Transfer Agreements) and saving a great deal of money.
It is up to you to decide in your position, what can you afford, and what you want to experience, all with your end goal of your BSN in mind.
Doubt, Rejection, and Competition
My counselor told me I would not get into nursing school.
She told me to take a gap year to figure out other careers or interests or apply to other schools
I did not disagree with her when she advised me to apply to other programs, however as a first-generation student who is taking out loans to pursue my education, I felt defeated with her advice as I have been working tirelessly to pursue this career.
I realized her advice was not based on my academic standing but rather on the competition that is prevalent among nursing programs. Nursing school entrance is competitive due to the unmatched demand for nurses and the shortage of faculty and clinical experience.
My first rejection from my dream program really hurt my spirit, I realized that no matter what program I pursue my education at, all that matters, in the end, is that I earn my BSN
Do not let this discourage you from applying to your dream program, but prioritize what is most important to you.
Lack of Support and the Importance of Networking
While there is competition among nursing students due to the exclusivity of programs, you can change the tone. If you take initiative to make connections and network with other students, then you will benefit immensely. Not only will you have friends to relate to but they can look over your application and aid you in the essay writing process.
I always stress the benefits of LinkedIn and networking with other nursing students and alumni. They can share information on their experience and what they wished they would have done. There is so much you can learn from someone who was in a similar position as you at one point in their career.
The journey to nursing school was not easy.
There were times I missed out on experiences and opportunities because I was dedicated to my end goal. At the time, it seemed like I missed out but I would not be in the position I am today without making sacrifices.
In that process, I wish I had reached out for help and support from other pre-nursing students. I wish I had considered other pathways to pursue nursing or support from counselors or mentors in high school to inform me of the options to obtain a BSN.
If you want to become a nurse, I hope you will consider my advice and reach out to others for support. With hard work and dedication, you will be accepted into a program!