How I Got Into Nursing School After Rejection

Applying to nursing school is a mishmash of excitement and panic. You’ve put everything into becoming a nurse. 

I bet you can imagine yourself walking down a bright hospital hallway on your first day of clinical.  

But what do you do if you get a bad grade or receive a rejection?

I’ll never forget that gut-wrenching, empty stomach feeling I had when I received my rejection letter. I was 21 — I sat alone on the floor crying — clueless about what to do with my life if I couldn’t be a nurse. 

My grades have always hovered somewhere above average, so the rejection while not a surprise still stung. I’m capable of straight A’s but the effort it required never interested me. 

What I lack in grades I make up with persistence and determination. I’ll show you how I turned a nursing school rejection into an acceptance!

A Bad Grade Isn’t Career Ending

It can feel like the end of the world is hurtling towards you when you get a bad grade. I get it, if you’re like me you have all your classes planned out and know your exact date of graduation. So what do you do when you fail a class? 

A recent post on my Instagram asked, “what’s a class you got a bad grade in and thought was going to ruin your life but didn’t?” 

Personally, mine was statistics. I failed my AP test in high school, retook it freshman year of college (but I slept in during my final and forgot my calculator!), and finally passed the class during summer school. 

Responses to my post included — statistics, chemistry, physics, nursing fundamentals, and the list goes on… The point here is that everyone struggles somewhere, these classes are hard! Whether you give up or keep going is what matters. 

Nursing School Acceptance Action Item

Let yourself be sad for a day. It’s okay to be frustrated and upset when things don’t go according to plan. But after you finish mourning, you have two options — suck it up and retake the course or give up. I’d much rather see you persist.

Ask the Nursing School for Feedback

One of the most uncomfortable actions I took after getting rejected was to ask why. It’s hard to ask for feedback when you know it’s not going to be completely positive, but it’s the most important piece of information you can ask for. 

In my case, the school said there really wasn’t anything I could have done differently. The applicants who were selected simply had better grades than me. They encouraged me to re-apply for the next cohort and I had a good chance of being accepted.

Sometimes you’re just up against barriers you can’t change. But there is often a gem within the feedback that will help you be successful later.

Nursing School Acceptance Action Item

Do the scary thing that will help you grow — call the school and ask to speak with someone about your rejection. Be open, listen, and take notes. Taking notes is important, you’ll probably be very nervous about hearing feedback and won’t remember everything that is said. 

Bonus tip — Make sure to get the name and number of the person you speak with, you’ll want to follow up again. Trust me, they’ll most likely remember you cared enough to ask for constructive feedback.

Repeat Courses to Improve Your GPA

This doesn’t always work. Schools often have strict policies on which courses and grades qualify for re-takes. In the impacted healthcare pre-requisite arena you’ll have to check with your school. 

I refuse to accept policies on face value, never underestimate what you might be able to accomplish by meeting with your counselor. Schools often reward initiative and make exceptions on a case by case basis. 

Nursing School Acceptance Action Item

Look up your school policy for re-taking classes. Make an appointment with a school counselor to seek special approval, it never hurts to ask.

Follow Up When You Reapply

During my second round of applying, I didn’t leave anything to chance. I wanted to make sure the school knew who I was, what they had recommended to me, and that I was following their recommendations. No way was I going to submit my application and let chance do the rest.

Nursing School Acceptance Action Item

After you apply/re-apply to a program follow up with the admissions department or your previous contact. Keep their information on hand in case you need to call them back.

Always make sure to thank everyone you encounter. Kindness still wins a lot of people over. 

In the course of your career, you’ll work with nurses who seem to defy mortal limitations, I promise even they struggled somewhere. Ask around the next time you are at clinical, I bet you’ll be surprised by some of the incredible stories you’ll hear. 

Read this next! 3 Personal Finance Tips for New Graduate Nurses

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