So you’ve graduated from college and you’re wondering if going back to school for nursing is the right next step. With the growing demand for nurses and the job security the career offers, many see it as an attractive option. But is nursing school after college really worth it?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: going to nursing school after earning a bachelor’s degree can definitely be worth it for many people. The job prospects for nurses are great and nurses earn good salaries.

But nursing school is challenging, so you need to be committed and prepared for intense academics and clinical work.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to decide if nursing school after college is the right path for you. We’ll look at the pros and cons, talk about different nursing degree options, discuss what nursing school is like, and provide tips to help you succeed.

The Pros of Going to Nursing School After College

Choosing to pursue nursing school after completing college can offer numerous advantages and open up exciting opportunities in the healthcare field. Here are some key benefits:

Strong Job Prospects and Salary Potential

Nursing is a profession in high demand, with a projected growth rate of 7% from 2019 to 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This means that there will be plenty of job opportunities available for qualified nurses in the coming years.

Additionally, nurses enjoy competitive salaries, with the median annual wage for registered nurses reaching $75,330 in 2020. This figure can vary depending on factors such as experience, location, and specialization.

Opportunity to Make a Difference and Help Others

One of the most rewarding aspects of a nursing career is the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of others. Nurses play a crucial role in providing compassionate care, supporting patients and their families, and advocating for their well-being.

Whether it’s comforting a scared patient, assisting in a life-saving procedure, or educating individuals on health promotion, nurses have the power to make a real difference in the lives of those they serve.

Ability to Specialize and Advance Your Career

Nursing offers a wide range of specialization options, allowing you to pursue areas of healthcare that align with your interests and passions. From critical care and pediatrics to oncology and mental health, there are numerous avenues for specialization within the nursing field.

By obtaining additional certifications or advanced degrees, you can further expand your career prospects and increase your earning potential. Specialized nurses are often in high demand and may have access to unique opportunities for professional growth.

The Cons of Nursing School After College

Time Commitment and Intense Academics

One of the main drawbacks of pursuing nursing school after college is the significant time commitment and intense academic workload. Nursing programs are known for their rigorous curriculum and demanding coursework.

Students are required to dedicate a significant amount of time to studying, attending lectures, and completing assignments. This can be particularly challenging for individuals who are already juggling other responsibilities such as work or family commitments.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the average full-time student in a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program spends around 15 to 18 hours per week on coursework alone. This does not account for additional time spent in clinical rotations or studying for exams.

The demanding nature of nursing school after college can be overwhelming and may require individuals to make sacrifices in other areas of their life.

Stressful Clinical Rotations

Clinical rotations are a crucial component of nursing education as they provide students with hands-on experience in various healthcare settings. However, these rotations can also be incredibly stressful for nursing students.

The pressure to perform well, combined with the emotional and physical demands of patient care, can take a toll on students’ mental health.

During clinical rotations, students are often required to work long hours, including weekends and holidays. They must navigate unfamiliar hospital environments, work alongside healthcare professionals, and manage multiple patient assignments.

This can be overwhelming and may lead to burnout or feelings of inadequacy among nursing students.

Upfront Tuition and Program Costs

Another disadvantage of pursuing nursing school after college is the financial burden associated with tuition and program costs. Nursing programs can be expensive, and students are often required to pay upfront for their education.

This can be particularly challenging for individuals who are already burdened with student loans from their undergraduate studies.

According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, the average cost of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program can range from $40,000 to $100,000. This includes tuition, fees, textbooks, and other educational expenses.

Additionally, students may need to invest in clinical supplies such as scrubs, stethoscopes, and medical equipment.

It is important for prospective nursing students to carefully consider the financial implications of pursuing nursing school after college and explore options for scholarships, grants, or loan forgiveness programs that may help alleviate some of the financial burden.

Different Paths: Nursing Degrees and Programs After College

When it comes to pursuing a career in nursing after college, there are several different paths you can take. Each path has its own unique set of requirements and benefits, so it’s important to understand the options available to you.

Accelerated BSN Programs

Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs are designed for individuals who already hold a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field. These programs are intensive and typically last around 12-18 months.

They provide a fast-track option for those looking to transition into the nursing profession quickly. Although these programs can be demanding, they offer a great opportunity for career changers or those who want to enter the nursing field without having to complete a traditional four-year BSN program.

Traditional BSN Programs

Traditional BSN programs are four-year undergraduate programs that are specifically designed for individuals who have no prior college education. These programs provide a comprehensive education in nursing and prepare students to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam to become a registered nurse.

The advantage of pursuing a traditional BSN program is that it provides a solid foundation in nursing theory and practice, as well as clinical experience.

Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN)

An Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) is a two-year program that prepares students for entry-level nursing roles. While an ADN program may offer a shorter path to becoming a registered nurse, it may limit career advancement opportunities.

Many hospitals and healthcare organizations prefer to hire nurses with a BSN degree, so individuals with an ADN may need to pursue further education to advance their careers.

Entry-Level Master’s in Nursing

An Entry-Level Master’s in Nursing (ELM) program is designed for individuals who hold a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field but want to pursue a career in nursing. These programs typically take around two to three years to complete and provide a comprehensive education in nursing theory, research, and practice.

ELM programs offer the advantage of preparing students for advanced nursing roles and leadership positions.

It’s important to carefully consider your career goals and personal circumstances when choosing a nursing program after college. Additionally, reaching out to nursing professionals and seeking guidance from nursing organizations can provide valuable insights into the different paths available.

What to Expect in Nursing School

Rigorous Science Prerequisites

Before diving into the nursing coursework, aspiring nurses must first complete a series of rigorous science prerequisites. These prerequisites typically include courses in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, and chemistry.

Nursing schools require these courses to ensure that students have a strong foundation in the sciences before delving into the specialized field of nursing. While these prerequisites may be challenging, they are essential in preparing students for the demanding coursework ahead.

Challenging Nursing Coursework

Once the science prerequisites are completed, nursing students embark on a journey of challenging coursework. They learn about various nursing specialties, pharmacology, patient care, and medical procedures.

The coursework is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to provide quality care to patients in a variety of healthcare settings. Nursing students should be prepared for long hours of studying, attending lectures, and participating in hands-on training.

Long Hours Studying and in Clinicals

Nursing school requires a significant time commitment, both inside and outside the classroom. Students can expect to spend long hours studying, reviewing material, and completing assignments. Additionally, nursing students will also participate in clinical rotations, where they gain practical experience in real healthcare settings.

These clinicals can be physically and mentally demanding, as students are often required to work long shifts and handle high-stress situations. However, these experiences are invaluable in preparing students for their future careers as nurses.

Preparing for the NCLEX Nursing Exam

One of the final challenges nursing students face is preparing for the NCLEX nursing exam. The NCLEX is a standardized exam that all aspiring nurses must pass in order to obtain their nursing license. It is a comprehensive test that assesses the student’s knowledge and ability to safely and effectively care for patients.

Preparing for the NCLEX requires dedicated study time and practice exams to ensure readiness. Many nursing schools offer review courses and resources to help students prepare for this critical exam.

Nursing school is undoubtedly a challenging journey, but it is also a rewarding one. Graduates of nursing programs have the opportunity to make a significant impact on the lives of others, working in a profession that is in high demand.

If you’re considering nursing school after college, it’s important to be prepared for the rigorous coursework, long hours of studying and clinicals, and the commitment required to succeed. With dedication and perseverance, nursing school can be a stepping stone to a fulfilling and rewarding career in healthcare.

Tips to Succeed in Nursing School After College

Entering nursing school after completing college can be an exciting and rewarding decision. However, it is important to be prepared and equipped with the right strategies to succeed in this rigorous program. Here are some valuable tips to help you make the most out of your nursing school experience:

Get Healthcare Experience First

Before embarking on your nursing school journey, gaining healthcare experience can provide you with a solid foundation. Consider working as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) or volunteering at a local hospital or clinic.

This will not only give you exposure to the healthcare environment but also allow you to develop essential skills and knowledge that will be invaluable during your nursing studies.

Maintain a Healthy Life Balance

Nursing school can be demanding, both mentally and physically. It is crucial to prioritize self-care and maintain a healthy life balance. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat nutritious meals, and exercise regularly.

Taking breaks and engaging in activities you enjoy will help prevent burnout and keep you motivated throughout your nursing school journey.

Find a Mentor

Finding a mentor who is already working in the nursing field can provide you with invaluable guidance and support. A mentor can offer advice, share their experiences, and help you navigate the challenges of nursing school.

Look for opportunities to connect with experienced nurses through networking events, professional organizations, or online platforms.

Stay Organized and Set a Schedule

With the demanding curriculum and clinical rotations, staying organized is essential for success in nursing school. Create a study schedule that allows you to allocate time for lectures, reading assignments, and exam preparation.

Utilize tools such as calendars, planners, or mobile apps to stay on top of your assignments and deadlines.

Focus on Understanding Concepts

In nursing school, it’s not just about memorizing facts and information; it’s about understanding the underlying concepts. Instead of simply memorizing, take the time to comprehend the principles and theories behind the nursing practice.

This will not only enhance your critical thinking skills but also enable you to apply your knowledge effectively in real-life scenarios.

Remember, nursing school is a challenging endeavor, but with the right mindset, strategies, and support, you can succeed and embark on a rewarding career in nursing. Good luck!


Deciding whether to go to nursing school after earning your bachelor’s degree is a big choice. While it requires a major investment of time and money, nursing offers incredible opportunities to launch a rewarding, meaningful, and financially stable career.

If you’re motivated to work hard and have a true passion for healthcare, nursing school could be an excellent path forward after college.

With thorough research and preparation, you can overcome the challenges of rigorous nursing academics and clinical training. Approach it strategically and nursing school can put you on the road to success in an in-demand profession where you can make a huge difference in people’s lives every day.

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