Three biggest mistakes nursing school applicants make

The biggest mistakes we see nursing school applicants make – and how to avoid them

Are you getting ready to apply for nursing school? If you’re like most applicants and you don’t have prior experience with the nursing application process, it’s easy to underestimate the time and complexity of some of its components.

We asked the leaders of our nursing program to share the three biggest mistakes they see applicants making and how those applicants could have avoided their missteps. To ensure you put your best foot forward on your nursing school application, check out their tips below.

Mistake 1: Thinking the admissions exam will be easy

The Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) is a nursing school admission exam that covers all areas of academics from reading to math, science and even English. This exam plays a significant role in determining whether or not a student is admitted to their school of choice.

In fact, to be considered for admission, applicants must score within a certain percentile of other applicants. The qualifying percentile ranges by year and by university. For instance, Davenport University encourages applicants to aim for a minimum score of 70 in each category and advises them to strive for a score in 80’s to make the application stronger and more competitive.

The score of your TEAS exam can be a matter of getting into your dream school or not. If you don’t feel like your test results are an accurate depiction of your knowledge, retake the test – you aren’t limited to any certain number of retries. Beyond the small test fee, there is no harm in retaking the test for a better score. Especially if it means having a heightened chance of getting into the nursing school of your dreams.

While most universities host TEAS test preparation sessions, there are also several online resources that you can tap into to help you prepare. For instance, the TEAS website hosts a multitude of test preparation materials and practice exams for free or minimal costs.

Mistake 2: Choosing the wrong references and/or not following up with them

One of the most important questions to ask yourself during the nursing application process is, “Who should I ask to be my professional reference?”

While your best friend or family member would surely give you a great recommendation, it’s best to provide professional references that can speak to why you would make a great candidate for the nursing program. Whether that’s an old teacher, athletic coach, manager or mentor, choose a reference with professional ties. We always recommend applicants shy away from using those with personal ties as professional references.

Ultimately, your reference choices will either make you stand out or blend in during the application process. So, make sure to choose them wisely.

Once you’ve narrowed down the lucky few, it’s time to make your request. But you need to make it carefully. Be sure to ask the individual if they are willing to commit to providing a reference on your behalf and give them the option to opt out if they don’t feel comfortable giving a strong recommendation. After all, you’d rather know that they’re not comfortable ahead of time, not after you get the reference back from them.

As you make your ask for a reference, be sure to include all of the details of why you’re asking and don’t forget to include a due date. Covering things like which program(s) and school(s) you’re applying to as well as specific details you’d like them to mention in their recommendation are very important. The conversations you have with your references will go a long way in ensuring that the recommendations you receive are the ones you want to display.

After you send out your formal requests for recommendations, be sure to check-in with your references if you don’t hear back in about a week. People are busy and some may simply overlook this task in their day-to-day lives. A quick reminder of your due date should do the trick and ensure you get what you need when you need it.

Lastly, once you receive your recommendation, it’s important to show gratitude for your reference’s time. This could be a simple thank you email or, if you want to do something a little more special, send a handwritten thank you note. If you’re not sure what to do, check out The 4 Levels of ‘Thank You’ for professional references. Either way, kind words and graciousness will go a long way in letting the person know that you appreciate them taking the time out of their day to talk on your behalf.

Mistake 3: Not reviewing your professional statement for grammar and mechanics

The nursing application statement is your chance to showcase your true passion for nursing. Make sure you set aside enough time to write a well-written, carefully planned statement that paints a picture of your innate desire to help others and your aptitude to succeed in nursing school.

Once you’ve written your statement, come back to it a day later and revise. As you’re doing so, be sure to make any tweaks or adjustments that you may have overlooked in the first draft. When you’re done, send it to an English teacher (preferably) or a family member or friend who’s a great writer, and have them read it too. It’s easy to overlook a small grammatical error or read a word in your head that may not necessarily be in the statement, so getting outside feedback is always a good idea.

After you receive feedback from your teacher, family member or friend, conduct your own final review. Look back at the instructions one last time to ensure you’ve answered all of the questions and make your final adjustments. Finally, once you feel confident you’re done, run your essay through a grammar checker to catch any remaining mistakes. One great, free tool you can use to do this is Grammarly.

Don’t forget – this statement could be your ticket to being admitted into the nursing program of your dreams, so start early, take your time and make sure you fully answer all of the questions.

Now, get ready to ace your nursing application

Now that you’ve read about the top three mistakes we see nursing school applicants make and learned how to avoid them, you’re ready to ace your application. Remember to read and follow all instructions very carefully and to allocate enough time to each part of the process, so you can put your best foot forward. Nursing schools typically receive lots of applications, so be sure you prepare yourself and all of your materials to stand out from the crowd.

Special notice! There are still a few openings in Davenport University’s nursing program for the upcoming semester. Learn more about our BSN pre-licensure program and how to apply today.


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