10 Ways High School Students Can Prepare for a Nursing Career

highschoolnursingThe typical high school student’s social life is often filled with parties, dances, and ball games. However, it also benefits high school students to pay time and attention to their academic course of study. This is especially true for students who wish to enter competitive college programs such as nursing. There are several ways that high school students can prepare for a nursing career.

Discuss these preparation tips with your high school counselor in order to develop an organized plan of study:

  • Make sure you are on a college academic track. Different states offer different educational high school academic paths for students. Make sure you take the classes that you will need to be admitted to a college with a nursing program. You will need to take higher level math and science classes.
  • Learn study, organizational, and test taking skills now. In order to successfully make it through nursing school you will need excellent academic habits while being self-disciplined. There will be few academic challenges in life as difficult as successfully making it through nursing school and passing your NCLEX-RN exam.
  • Study and learn as much as you can in your math and science classes. College life can be a big transition for most students due to lifestyle changes, and the increased academic expectations. The more you learn in high school the better prepared you will be to make high grades in your college classes.
  • Maintain the highest possible GPA you can while taking the necessary preparatory classes. Nursing program admission is a separate admission process. You are not granted a spot in a nursing program just because you attend their college.  Nursing program admissions are usually based largely on college/high school GPAs and college entrance exam scores. Nursing program admission is extremely competitive with an only a fraction of the applicants being admitted.
  • Take Advanced Placement (AP) classes. AP classes in high school offer advanced curriculum and the possibility of earning college credit which can save time and money. Even if you are not eligible for college credit at the end of the class, you still benefit from being exposed to a higher level curriculum.
  • Consider taking the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests. If you historically do well on tests and are advanced in some subjects, consider saving time and money by self-studying for CLEP tests. CLEP tests are transferable for college credit. There are 33 different subjects that, upon passing, are eligible for college credits. It is important to note that each college has a CLEP policy as to which CLEP tests they will accept in lieu of taking the college class. Polices vary widely between colleges. Make sure you read each college’s CLEP policy. For example, some colleges accept every test while others do not allow them. Also, some colleges will not allow you take a CLEP test after enrolling in their school or they make you obtain special permission (they stand to lose money). So, you may need to make sure that you take the CLEP tests you need before ever applying to college. If you college of choice accepts them, you stand to save major college tuition dollars and time upon passing them. Also, check your college plan of study to make sure you only take the CLEP tests you will need. Your high school counselor can assist you with this.
  • Volunteer. Some hospitals offer a summer volunteer program for high school students. Apply and take advantage of this experience so that it may be included in your nursing school application.
  • Take a first aid and/or CPR class. If your school does not offer these as part of your curriculum, find a community resource that does.
  • Join HOSA-Future Health Professionals. This instructional program is available at some schools and is designed to prepare students for a future in health sciences. The potential opportunities to prepare for nursing school will expand if your high school has a health science program. If your high school does not have a HOSA program, speak to administration about how your school can participate.
  • Become a CNA. If you are 18 years old in high school, or have spare time in the summer, take a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) course to become certified. Being a licensed CNA can potentially help your nursing program admission. It offers a glimpse into the real world of healthcare.

Are you almost finished with high school or already graduated? Talk to a college academic adviser, so that you can follow an academic plan to increase your chances of being admitted to a nursing program.

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