Tips to help single moms choose the best nursing schools to attend
Single moms in nursing schools face some unique challenges, no wonder many moms who want to become nurses would like to know the best nursing schools out there. Because while there are lots of great nursing schools to choose from, it’s important to find a school that meets your needs.
I remember how anxious I felt when I was trying to decide which college and nursing program to attend. I finally chose a school I thought was a good fit and I am happy that I made that decision. While my college or nursing program wasn’t perfect, my teachers and advisors were supportive and very helpful.
So, while there’s no set formula for choosing a nursing school to attend, I want you to go beyond just looking at a list of “best nursing schools for single moms.” Before you decide on a nursing program, there are a few important things you should consider, if you want to get through nursing school successfully.
In this post, I am going to share some things I think are really important, and things you should take into consideration if you are thinking of becoming a nurse as a single mother. So, here are some tips for finding and choosing the nursing school that’s right for you.
Before we get into it, let me answer one of the most frequently asked questions I see about nursing school.
IS NURSING A GOOD CAREER FOR SINGLE MOMS
One of the reasons why nursing is a good career for single moms is because of its flexibility. As a single mom, flexibility is really important especially if you don’t have a strong support system. Nursing is a very flexible career because it offers a lot of different options and opportunities to work in diverse settings.
You can also choose whether to work part-time, full-time, or per diem. You can work only weekends and still earn a full-time income. So, while nursing school can be pretty hard for a single mom, there’s no question that nursing is a good career for single moms.
Now, let’s get into how you can find a good school and start your journey towards becoming a nurse.
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1. MAKE A LIST OF WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU
Single moms going back to school for nursing face an uphill battle, so before you start researching nursing schools or applying for a nursing program, the first thing you should do is, make a list of what is important to you. Start by identifying your needs and wants, and what you are looking for in a nursing school.
The reason why you should make a list is that you can use that to create a shortlist of nursing schools before you make a final decision. Without knowing what your needs or wants are, you won’t be able to truly research nursing schools or figure out how well they meet your needs.
Figure out your top priorities and what’s most important to you in a nursing school or program.
This exercise shouldn’t take you more than ten minutes, but it can save you years of stress, or worse, wasted time and money. So, go ahead, create a list of your wants and needs. Remember, your needs are non-negotiable while your wants are some nice perks that you’d love to have but are not deal-breakers.
2. HOW TO FIND THE BEST NURSING SCHOOL FOR SINGLE MOMS: CONSIDER AFFORDABILITY
Unfortunately, so many moms or students are so desperate to get into nursing school they forget to think about affordability and get suckered into very expensive college programs. This is a very bad idea for so many reasons.
Some colleges and nursing programs are more expensive than others, so you have to bear that in mind before you sign up for a college. Think about how much nursing school costs, then think about how much you can afford.
When you think about affordability, don’t think of only the tuition and fees, think about the other associated costs. For example, nursing school supplies like white shoes, wheeled backpack, nursing school uniforms, a watch, stethoscope, textbooks, and lots of other things.
The costs of all these things can quickly add up to a couple of thousand dollars, so you need to factor that in when you are considering affordability.
Also, when you think about affordability, think about how much you can afford on your own, the loan burden you are comfortable with (remember you will need to pay back whatever you borrow), scholarships, or any other financial aid the college or nursing program offers.
It doesn’t matter how great a nursing school is if you can’t afford it. So, please don’t get suckered into an expensive program you can’t afford because this will only lead to financial stress, too much debt, or worse, dropping out because you can no longer afford college.
3. THINK ABOUT THE TYPES OF PROGRAMS OFFERED
Lots of nursing schools have different nursing programs and degrees. Before you settle on one nursing school, consider the types of nursing programs offered and whether they are suitable for you. When assessing the nursing programs that are available in a particular school, think about your long-term academic goals and not only the present.
For example, let’s say you want to become a registered nurse eventually, but you prefer to start as a licensed practical nurse. A college that offers both an LPN degree and a bridge program from LPN to RN might be a better option than one that only offers the LPN degree. Of course, there are other factors to consider as well.
Similarly, if you are starting with an associate degree but plan to move on to a BSN degree at a later date, a community college that offers the associate degree program but has a partnership with another university where you can complete your BSN degree might be a better option because you know they’d accept the courses you have already taken.
Also, some community colleges have dual admission options for their nursing programs.
So, think about the nursing programs offered when you are trying to find the best nursing school for you. Do you want a day program, evening and weekend, or an online/hybrid program? Think about your needs and lifestyle and choose the program that best meets your needs.
4. BEST NURSING PROGRAMS FOR SINGLE MOMS: CONSIDER ACCESSIBILITY
This might sound trivial but the best nursing programs for single moms are the ones that are accessible to them. If you don’t want to relocate to another state or have a long commute, then accessibility to the nursing school you choose is an important factor to consider.
A lot of single moms lack support and many have to work even while attending school, so it’s more important than ever that you attend a nursing school that you can easily get to, and if possible, one that is accessible to your home and workplace (if applicable).
Don’t sign up for a college with a very long commute and think you will figure things out later. Trust me, when things get very stressful, you will regret making that decision.
Another thing to consider when you think about accessibility is the clinical locations of the nursing program. You can find this information by calling the school and asking them about it, or going to a nursing forum like Allnurses to make some inquiries.
So, think about things like distance from home and work and your transportation options before you choose a nursing school.
5. HOW DO SINGLE MOMS GO TO NURSING SCHOOL? GO TO A SCHOOL THAT’S A LIFESTYLE FIT
The best nursing schools for single moms are the ones that are compatible with their lifestyles. Now, don’t get me wrong. You will have to make some sacrifices no matter which nursing school you end up attending, but you should try to find one that is a little bit compatible with your lifestyle.
Not everyone is in a position to make drastic changes or upend their life just to attend nursing school, so you want to think about that before you make a final decision. Think about how much sacrifice you will have to make to attend a particular school and what you are willing to give up.
If you are a single mom with young kids or three to four kids, nursing school is going to be harder for you to manage than someone with one kid or a married mom.
So, think about what a nursing program or school would require from you, then consider if that school is compatible with your current lifestyle or at least manageable with a few changes.
Related: How to Get Through Nursing School as a Single Mom
6. CONSIDER HOW MUCH SUPPORT OR RESOURCES THE NURSING SCHOOL OR COLLEGE PROVIDES
Single moms deserve all the support they can get, so a nursing school that offers good or adequate support to single moms or single parents should be on your shortlist.
Unfortunately, lots of colleges don’t consider the needs of single parents that’s why this demographic tend to have a low graduation rate compared to other students, or even when they manage to complete college, it takes them a considerably longer time compared to other students.
Now, with that said. A single mom can go to nursing school and become a nurse even with all the challenges, so I am not saying this to discourage you, but to make you aware of what you are up against.
So, before you make up your mind, research how much support a nursing school offers, eligibility requirements, and whether the support is adequate or not.
7. CONSIDER HOW COMPETITIVE IT IS TO GET INTO THE PROGRAM
Admission into a nursing school is separate from admission into a college. Nursing schools have what you call “selective admission” because they can only accept a limited number of nursing students at one time, which means they typically want only the “best” students. Some nursing schools have very stringent admission process and will make you jump through hoops to get in.
If you are in the process of applying for a place in a nursing program or thinking of going back to school for nursing, first consider how competitive the admission process is and what the degree requirements are before you continue this process.
Finding the best nursing programs for single moms is all about knowing what you are up against so you can be prepared to take on the challenge. So, check the degree requirements for any nursing school you are considering, check out their prerequisites, and the number of classes/courses you will need for graduation.
It’s super important to know what classes you actually need beforehand, so you don’t end up adding to your workload, and also, whether they are classes you are comfortable taking.
For example, one of my requirements, when I was researching nursing schools, was “no chemistry.” I knew I’d struggle with it so I didn’t want to take that class. Thankfully, I found a program that didn’t require chemistry.
Something else to think about when you think of how competitive a nursing program is is how many prerequisites you have to complete before you can apply for the nursing program, which classes, and their GPA requirement.
The closer you are to meeting all the nursing school admission requirements, the greater your chances of being accepted. So, take the time to find out all the necessary information.
8. FINDING THE BEST NURSING SCHOOLS FOR SINGLE MOMS: LOOK AT REVIEWS, NCLEX PASS RATES, & ACCREDITATION
First, it goes without saying that any nursing school you plan to attend must be accredited and approved by the state board of nursing. You can easily see if a nursing school is accredited by going to your state’s board of nursing and checking the approved nursing programs.
While you are there, you can also check out the school’s NCLEX exam pass rate to give you an idea of how well the school prepares its students for the exam. Now, let me say that this isn’t foolproof because, at the end of the day, it’s up to the student to prepare for, and take the NCLEX exam.
So, look at the school’s history by checking multiple years and comparing it with some other nursing schools in the area, to get a better idea. Personally, I wouldn’t choose any nursing school with a poor NCLEX pass rate over many years. That’s a red flag for me. But you might think differently.
9. RESEARCH NURSING SCHOOLS AND CREATE YOUR SHORTLIST
If you have gone through the other steps in this post, I think at this point you are ready to choose the best nursing school for you. The next step is to research some nursing schools or programs and create a shortlist from your research.
You can find a list of all the nursing schools in the United States listed here. This is a great place to start your search or you can just go to your state’s board of nursing.
After you have created a shortlist, the next step is to weigh the pros and cons of each nursing school or program. Consider how well they meet the needs you earlier identified. Don’t rush this process because it will save you a lot of hardship and disappointment later.
Next steps for finding the best nursing schools for single moms
Finding the best nursing schools for single moms takes a lot of time and effort, but taking the time to do proper research before committing yourself will pay off in the end.
Though you might be tempted to accept the first nursing school offer you receive because you are desperate to get into nursing school, how you feel right now isn’t the only factor to consider when deciding which nursing school is right for you.
You have to think long-term and consider the other factors I highlighted in this post. Consider your needs and how well a nursing school will meet those needs before you commit to it.
I hope the tips in this post will help you figure out the best nursing school for you, so you can be on your way to becoming a nurse as a single mother.
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