How to Choose the Best Nursing School

Tips for Selecting the Right School: Expectations, Requirements, and Challenges

Medical students studying at school

Nurses provide patients with quality care and work under the supervision of a doctor. They are pillars of strength who provide crucial support to countless hospitals and healthcare facilities across the country. While nursing school comes with its own unique set of challenges, it is a necessary experience that can be incredibly rewarding and prepare you for the future.

Our guide will teach you everything you need to know about choosing the right nursing school. Continue reading to learn about the benefits, requirements, and challenges that go along with finding the best program for you.

(Click here to learn how to become a Registered Nurse.)

Researching Nursing Schools

Factors to Consider When Researching Nursing Schools

Now that you’ve decided to pursue nursing school, the next step is to find the best program for you. There are several questions you should consider when searching for a nursing program. In your research, you should gather as much information as possible about your selection criteria, including cost, length, location, accreditation, and certification opportunities.

Furthermore, the best nursing program should be tailored to your individual needs. For example, some students may prefer smaller class sizes. In contrast, others might place more value on time set aside for clinical externships or benefit from a large university setting. Before enrolling anywhere, don’t be afraid to ask questions when meeting with admissions representatives.

Here are some sample questions you could ask when applying for nursing school:

  • What are the tuition costs and financial aid options?
  • What are the academic prerequisites?
  • How long does it take to complete the program?
  • What specific topics are covered?
  • Is the program online, in person, or a combination of both?
  • Where is the school located, or where do they offer campuses?
  • Is the program accredited?
  • What is the faculty-to-student ratio?
  • Are there any clinical externships or simulations?
  • What percentage of students graduate?
  • What percentage of graduates find employment?
  • What are the NCLEX pass rates?

Evaluating Nursing Schools

Factors to Consider When Evaluating Nursing Schools

While researching each school, you should ascertain as much information as possible in relation to your selection criteria, including factors such as the program’s curriculum, clinical opportunities, reputation, and student support services.

Before you decide to enroll anywhere, do not be afraid to ask a lot of questions when meeting with admissions representatives. In fact, the more, the merrier! Reps of a standout school should always be willing—if not enthusiastic—to answer all of your questions.

Nursing School Cost

How Much Does Nursing School Cost?

Out-of-pocket school costs can vary depending on your individual situation. They will also depend on the location, school, and type of program. Nursing school prices might range anywhere from $5,000 to $130,000. Keep in mind that tuition costs over $100k are likely for bachelor’s degree programs, which span three to four years.

Some programs may also charge a higher price for more clinical externships or cutting-edge medical equipment. Again, be sure to research your favored schools and ask the admissions representatives about tuition costs as well as their financial aid options. You might be eligible for financial aid, which can cover many college expenses, such as:

  • Tuition
  • Transportation
  • Room and Board
  • Books
  • Computer Equipment
  • Living Expenses

Close up of a stethoscope and plastic hearts

Nursing School Financial Aid

Financial Aid Options for Nursing School

Most schools will offer several financing options to qualifying students. For instance, the financial aid team at Unitek College is ready to assist you with finding the right combination to help you achieve your goals.

Some of Unitek’s financial aid options include the following pathways.

Federal and State Grants

Grants provide money based on financial need. In most cases, the money does not have to be repaid (with some exceptions). Unitek College participates in these grant programs:

Federal Grants

State Grants


Scholarships, like grants, represent money that does not have to be repaid. Scholarships are awarded based on a variety of criteria, including financial need and alumni status. Unitek College offers several institutional scholarships to students who meet the eligibility criteria as described in the school catalog. These institutional scholarships include:

  • BSN Alumni Scholarship
  • VN Alumni Scholarship

Federal Work Study

Federal Work Study (FWS) enables students who demonstrate financial need to earn aid to pay for their education expenses. Students earn at least the current hourly minimum wage by working at the College, for nonprofit agencies or for-profit businesses. Unitek helps eligible students locate jobs, but keep in mind that certain restrictions apply.

To be considered for FWS, students must complete a FAFSA application, have an unmet need, and show an interest in working part-time. Monetary awards range from $200 to $4500 per academic year. Depending on available funds and your qualifications, you will need to provide a resume as well as an employment application to apply for the interview.

Federal Loans

These loans are offered by the U.S. Department of Education to eligible students or their parents to help cover educational costs.

Close up of a loan agreement and fountain pen

Private Loans

Private loans are available to students through various lending institutions to help pay educational expenses. Private loans, which are not insured by the federal government, have repayment terms that vary depending on the lender from which you borrow.

Generally, private loans require that the borrower is a U.S. Citizen, a U.S. national, or a permanent resident and must be creditworthy. International students are eligible with a creditworthy cosigner (who must be a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident) and appropriate U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service documentation.

Additional Options

The below options are available to those who qualify:

Visiting Nursing Schools

It’s vital that you visit potential nursing schools before you make a final decision. Let’s say you have narrowed down your list to three or five top schools. Contact each one and inquire about free campus tours, meeting with faculty and current students, and observing a nursing class. Some schools may even allow you to shadow a student for a day.

Most importantly, ask questions about each school’s nursing program. This combination of practical knowledge and campus experience will allow you to envision life at each school as accurately as possible.

Choosing the Right Nursing School

We can not emphasize the importance of research enough. Before you choose a school, remember to review all of your notes and consider personal preferences as well as time constraints.

If you haven’t already, compile a list of strengths and weaknesses. Think about your personality type, interests, and motivations. Most importantly, decide which aspects of your nursing program are non-negotiable. For example, if you work full time, you may already know that an online or hybrid-online program format is essential to your success.

The difficulty of your studies may also depend on the type of program you select. While degree programs lay the foundation for higher study—and potentially more job opportunities—they also require more time in school.

Also, consider each school’s admissions requirements. Many nursing programs will have a unique set of obligations and prerequisites. Make sure you carefully check the school’s website or speak with an admissions representative to understand those entry requirements better.

Group of medical students on laptops

Unitek College Nursing Programs

If you’d like to become a nurse, Unitek College offers several nursing programs that could meet your needs. Some of these programs offer hybrid-online classes, day or evening options, and more. Unitek also maintains a strong financial aid team to better assist their students.

In addition, the BSN program at Unitek includes NCLEX passing assistance and an Advanced Placement Option.

Here are the highlights for each Unitek nursing program.

Vocational and Practical Nursing Programs

The Vocational Nursing and Practical Nursing program gives students the knowledge, training, and confidence they’ll need to pass the licensure exam. These programs prepare students with 12 months of instruction, at least 900 hours of hands-on training, and access to healthcare facilities. Most importantly, the program prepares graduates for the National Council Licensure Examination-Practical Nurse (NCLEX-PN). This exam must be taken for graduates to become LVNs in California and LPNs in Nevada.

Associate of Science in Vocational Nursing Program

Vocational Nurses who have already completed an approved Vocational Nursing or Practical Nursing program can expand their education and training with the Associate Degree in Vocational Nursing program. This program builds on the Vocational Nursing diploma by adding the same 100% online General Education and Science courses required for students in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Program. The goal of this post-licensure program is to educate and develop Vocational Nurses to become well-rounded professionals through undergraduate General Education.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program can lead to a rewarding career as a Registered Nurse, or it can serve as a pathway for current LVNs and Associate Degree RNs to take their career to the next level. Obtaining your BSN equips you with advanced tools and experience to meet the more complex demands of healthcare and nursing today.

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing program is a three-year program; however, those who have successfully completed nursing-board-approved Vocational Nursing or Practical Nursing programs and the required General Education courses may qualify for Advanced Placement status at Unitek. This status would allow eligible students to complete the program in 2 years.

Begin Your Nursing Journey at Unitek College

Without a doubt, nurses play an essential role in healthcare. Many schools can offer high-quality education for aspiring nurses or active nurses who would like to advance their careers. These vocational schools can give you the knowledge and skillset to succeed in your dream career. If you have an avid desire to help others, then becoming a nurse could be a very satisfying career path for you.

Find the right nursing program and get started on the road to a rewarding career today.