A Step-by-Step Guide to Applying to Nursing School in California

CNA Program / CNA Training

A Step-by-Step Guide to Applying to Nursing School in California

Embarking on a nursing career can be incredibly rewarding, and applying to nursing school is the first step toward achieving your goals. If you’re an entry-level student with no prior medical knowledge, this guide will walk you through the application process, provide insights into the NCLEX pass rates, offer tips for tackling essay questions, and help you create an effective nursing school application.

1. Understanding the Application Process:

Applying to nursing school can be a competitive process, but with careful planning and preparation, you can increase your chances of acceptance. Here’s a breakdown of the typical application process:

  • Research and Choose Programs: Explore nursing schools in California to find programs that align with your interests and career goals.
  • Check Admission Requirements: Review the prerequisites for each program, including GPA requirements, prerequisite courses, and any additional tests.
  • Prepare Transcripts and Test Scores: Request your high school or college transcripts and any required test scores, such as the SAT or ACT.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Some programs may require letters of recommendation from teachers, employers, or community leaders.
  • Application Deadlines: Mark important application deadlines on your calendar and make sure to submit all materials on time.

2. Understanding NCLEX Pass Rates:

The NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) is a crucial exam that all aspiring nurses must pass to become licensed. While in nursing school, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills needed to excel in this exam.

  • Research School’s NCLEX Pass Rates: Look for nursing programs with high NCLEX pass rates. A high pass rate often indicates a strong curriculum and effective teaching.
  • Connect with Current Students: Reach out to current nursing students to gain insights into their experiences with exam preparation and support from the program.

Click below to review the pass rates for California RN & LVN NCLEX Pass Rates. 94% is strongly recommended.

3. Tackling Essay Questions:

Many nursing school applications require essays that allow you to showcase your passion for nursing and explain why you’re a strong candidate. Here are some tips for writing compelling essays:

  • Be Authentic: Share your personal experiences and reasons for wanting to become a nurse. Admissions committees value authenticity.
  • Highlight Relevant Skills: If you have transferable skills from other experiences, such as volunteering or leadership roles, emphasize how these skills will contribute to your success as a nurse.
  • Address Challenges: If you’ve overcome obstacles to pursue nursing, discuss these challenges and how they’ve shaped your determination and resilience.

Crafting an Effective Resume:

Your resume is an opportunity to demonstrate your qualifications and achievements. Even without prior medical knowledge, you can showcase relevant experiences:

  • Education: Include your high school diploma and any relevant coursework or certifications.
  • Extracurricular Activities: Highlight volunteer work, community service, and leadership roles that demonstrate your commitment to helping others.
  • Transferable Skills: Emphasize skills such as communication, teamwork, and time management that are valuable in nursing.
Asking thoughtful questions can help you gather the information you need to make the right choice for your nursing education.

Questions to Ask Admission Counselors:

When applying to nursing schools, engaging with admission counselors can provide valuable insights into the programs and help you make informed decisions. Here are some questions to consider asking:

  1. What Are the Prerequisites for the Program? Gain clarity on the required GPA, prerequisite courses, and any additional admission criteria.
  2. Are There Different Program Options? Inquire about different types of nursing programs, such as traditional BSN, accelerated BSN, or ADN programs, and understand the differences.
  3. What Is the Application Deadline? Ensure you know the application deadline and any specific dates for submitting transcripts, test scores, and other materials.
  4. Can You Explain the Clinical Experience? Understand the clinical placements and settings where students gain hands-on experience. Ask about the variety of clinical opportunities.
  5. What Student Support Services Are Available? Learn about tutoring, counseling, and mentorship services that the school offers to support nursing students.
  6. How Do You Prepare Students for the NCLEX Exam? Inquire about the strategies and resources the program provides to help students excel in the NCLEX exam.
  7. What Is the Faculty-to-Student Ratio? A lower ratio often indicates better access to instructors and personalized learning.
  8. Do Students Have Opportunities for Research or Specialization? Ask about opportunities for research projects, specialization tracks, or additional certifications.
  9. What Is the Program’s NCLEX Pass Rate? Confirm the program’s NCLEX pass rate and understand how they support students in achieving success on the exam.
  10. Can You Provide Insights into Clinical Partnerships? Understand whether the school has partnerships with reputable healthcare facilities for clinical rotations.
  11. Are Scholarships or Financial Aid Available? Inquire about scholarship opportunities, financial aid options, and tuition costs.
  12. What Is the Student Diversity Like? Learn about the diversity of the student body, as interacting with peers from different backgrounds can enrich your learning experience.
  13. Can You Share Student Success Stories? Ask for examples of alumni who have achieved success after completing the program.
  14. Is the Program Accredited? Ensure the nursing program is accredited by recognized accrediting bodies.
  15. How Can I Best Prepare for the Interview? If the program requires an interview, ask for tips on how to prepare and what to expect.

*Remember that these questions will help you gather important information to make an informed decision about the nursing schools you’re considering. Take notes during your conversations with admission counselors to help you compare and contrast different programs effectively.

Additional information about California universities that offer nursing programs:

  1. California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) – Nursing Programs Search
    The BRN provides a search tool to find approved nursing programs in California, including information about program types and locations.
  2. California State University (CSU) Nursing Programs
    The CSU system offers nursing programs across multiple campuses. This website provides an overview of the nursing programs available within the CSU system.
  3. University of California (UC) Nursing Programs
    The UC system also offers nursing programs. This page provides information about nursing programs at various UC campuses.
    Website: provides a list of nursing schools in California along with information about the types of programs offered and contact details.
  5. Niche
    Niche provides rankings, reviews, and information about nursing programs in California colleges.
    This website offers information about nursing schools in California, including rankings, NCLEX pass rates, and program details.
  7. – California
    Website: provides resources and information about nursing careers and schools, including those in California.

*Remember to explore the official websites of the universities you’re interested in for the most up-to-date and accurate information about their nursing programs, admission requirements, application deadlines, and more.

Practice skills such as taking vital signs, providing personal care, and performing other tasks that will be required on the exam. You can practice these skills in a nursing home or with a clinical instructor.