It can happen to even the most qualified nursing student: You apply to nursing school, sit for an interview, and maybe even buy a bunch of cool nursing gear from the university bookstore. You wait with excitement about your new venture into nursing.
But then it happens.
You walk to your mailbox, and inside is a letter addressed to you. It may read something like this:
Dear Mr./Ms. So and So (that’s you),
We regret to inform you that we cannot accept you into our program at this time. You may reapply in the future, and we would be happy to reconsider you for admission at a later date.
The nursing school that just crushed your dreams…
Ouch! A letter like that can make you feel like an utter failure. It can embarrass you in front of your friends or family, and it can make you feel as if your dreams are crushed forever.
What to Do If You Get a Nursing School Rejection Letter
Nursing school rejection letters are more common than you might think. Many wonderful nursing students and nurses have had to apply 2, 3, even 4 or 5 times before they were accepted into a nursing program. Not all programs are like this (my wife got into nursing school with no waiting lists or rejections), but some competitive programs may reject many students.
Here’s what you can do:
Vent, Get Down, and Pray
Go ahead and let out all of those negative emotions by talking to a friend, family member, or romantic interest. Bear your soul and tell them everything that you’re feeling. You may even need to cry it out for the day. That’s okay—it can be really overwhelming to have your hopes set on something and then realize it isn’t going to work out how you hoped.
But after you vent about it, pick yourself back up. You might want to pray to God for guidance, clarity, and help during this time. Once you’ve done this, you can then begin to develop a positive attitude about the situation.
Focus on the Positives and Count Your Blessings
I know this can be tough, but it can be helpful to count your blessings and focus on all of the positive things in your life. You still have options available, and you can still become a nurse. You just got dealt a temporary setback that you’re going to overcome.
There’s always an immediate reason as to why you didn’t get in (perhaps the school had too many applicants, or perhaps you didn’t meet one of their requirements). But what many people fail to realize is that there may be a bigger reason. Perhaps this delay or setback will cause you to enter one semester later, and you’ll meet the person of your dreams! I know of at least one couple that met and got married during nursing school.
Or, perhaps there would have been some terrible accident that semester, and you’ll be thankful that you didn’t get in. You never know how circumstances can unfold, so try to trust that there is a hidden blessing that you don’t know about.
Remember that Failure isn’t Final or Fatal
Failure and rejection is something we all face in life. J.K. Rowling, the author of those hugely popular Harry Potter books, was rejected 12 times before finding a publisher for her books. She felt like a failure, but she eventually earned a ton of money from those books.
Famed director Steven Spielberg was reportedly rejected from the University of Southern California’s school of Theater, Film, and Television. He later was accepted, but dropped out to work on his own. He’s now renowned for his directing work.
Just because you were rejected, it doesn’t mean you made the wrong decision. It doesn’t mean you won’t make a great nurse. It just means you had a setback that you’ll have to overcome.
And you will overcome this!
Make Sure the Problem Wasn’t on Your End
Sometimes nursing schools send rejection letters to students because they simple didn’t have enough room. Perhaps they only have 200 slots open, yet 1,000 applied. They’d have to turn down 800 in that case.
However, if you were rejected because of something on your end (GPA, ACT scores, TEAS exam scores, etc.), then you need to work to correct those issues. If your GPA was too low, consider retaking a class or taking extra classes to boost it up. If your ACT score was too low, buy some prep books and practice day and night until you get your score up.
Yes, it can be frustrating and take time, but you need to meet the requirements so that you can get accepted into the program.
Finally, Don’t Waste Time
As hard as it may be, you need to pick up the pieces and keep moving forward with confidence. You are going to get into nursing school and become a nurse. Don’t fret.
Use this time to prepare yourself. Here are some things you can do while you wait:
- Apply to other programs. I’d recommend applying to at least 2-4 programs in your area. Don’t just go for BSN or ADN. You may want to apply to a variety of programs so that you can have a backup plan. One student we know of applied to an ADN program and was rejected, but they were accepted right into a BSN program.
- Build Experience. You can use this time to volunteer (which looks great on a nursing school or job application). You can even consider working part time to build experience in a local hospital, by taking advantage of entry-level positions. This can pay off, because you may make connections with a manager that can write you a great letter of recommendation.
- Take Prerequisite Courses. If there are any other courses you can take in college while you await acceptance into the nursing program, go ahead and take them. Some courses like Anatomy and Physiology are open to all majors, and you don’t have to actually be in the nursing school program to take them.
- Make Sure You’re Ready. Practice up on your nursing school interview skills by practicing with family members. Brush up your application by adding experience and letters of recommendation. Keep applying, and keep trying. You will succeed.
The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that successful people keep trying. Both experience failure and rejection, but the successful person keeps moving forward.
Before you know it, you’ll achieve your dream of becoming a nurse.