Choosing a nursing school is an important step in your career. If it weren’t you’d just go to the closest and cheapest school available and call it a day, right? But billions of dollars are poured each year into the marketing of a college education, including nursing schools. And right now the nation’s schools of nursing are scrambling to make up some ground lost to economic decline, budgetary clean-sweeps, record numbers of applicants and fewer nurse educators.
Making a shortlist of nursing schools, filling out the applications, getting it together for the interviews—if you get them, crafting the application essay questions, begging important and influential people in your life to write letters of reference, writing a career statement if required, applying for student loans, scholarships and grants….these are all critical components of any nursing school admission process.
But so is scheduling a campus visit.
Why is it so important that you actually see and spend a bit of time on a nursing school campus?
Because the images you see in the glossy brochures and on a well-designed website are marketing materials. They are specifically designed to sell a nursing school experience and often have little to do with the actual “feel” of a campus or the potential experience you might have while in attendance. Place is loaded with sensory experience. It’s how we choose the homes or apartments we live in, the cities we live in, and even the restaurants and other places we choose to frequent.
Many schools invite you to schedule a formal visit. During this chunk of time you are treated to a campus tour, possibly a nursing informational session, a meeting with admissions officers and have the opportunity to ask questions about the school. You may even have your interview at this time, if one has been scheduled.
Some schools are just too big and too strapped for staff to offer special tours and visits to prospective students, especially at the undergraduate level. Visit anyway. Plan to wander the campus yourself, poke around in the campus bookstore, check out the nursing school facilities, maybe see if you can informally meet a faculty member that may be nearby, chat with a couple students on the fly.
You don’t need a formal campus tour—in fact you might glean more about the place on your own.
Are you thinking, “I don’t need to visit the campus, I know I’ll like it…”?
Consider this: you love the campus you see on the website and in the brochure—it looks perfect and tailor-made for you. On the day you arrive loaded with all your possessions and ready to start school you begin thinking-- where’s the campus I saw in the brochure?!