How Hard Is Nursing School?

Nursing school is an arduous journey in gaining admission and navigating the rigorous coursework. Aspiring nurses often juggle a demanding curriculum alongside clinical experiences, making late-night study sessions common. This article will explore the challenges and offer tips for a successful nursing school experience.

The Road to Nursing School Admission

Gaining admission to nursing school is no walk in the park. The process begins with a comprehensive review of your application, and you'll face stiff competition from other well-qualified candidates. The nursing profession is experiencing a surge in demand, with the US Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting over 194,500 open registered nurse positions between 2021 and 2031. This high demand has led to an influx of prospective nursing students.

The Competitive Landscape

Data from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing indicates that more than 250,000 students are pursuing a bachelor's degree in nursing. This intense competition stems from the fact that nursing is a profession rooted in trust and responsibility, so nursing school admissions are highly selective.

Meeting Academic Standards

Nursing schools evaluate applicants in various ways to determine if they possess the necessary academic and ethical foundations for the profession. One of the primary criteria considered is your Grade Point Average (GPA). While specific GPA requirements vary from school to school, the average minimum GPAs, as reported by, are as follows:

  • Associate Degree Programs: Typically range from 2.0 to 2.8
  • Bachelor's Degree Programs: An average of 3.0
  • Early Admission Programs: May require a higher GPA, often 3.8 or above

The Importance of TEAS Scores

Another critical aspect of your nursing school application is your performance on the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS). Much like the SATs, TEAS is tailored specifically for nursing school candidates. It is designed to predict your potential success in the nursing program. The TEAS exam consists of 170 multiple-choice questions that you must complete within three hours and 29 minutes. This comprehensive test assesses your English and language usage, science, reading, and Prerequisites: Building a Strong Foundation.

Before delving into nursing coursework, you must first meet the prerequisites. While specific prerequisites may vary from one institution to another, most nursing schools require students to complete foundational science and general education courses, which typically include:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • College-level English
  • Math/Statistics
  • Psychology

Crafting a Compelling Application and Essay

The application process for nursing school is multifaceted and includes submitting essential documents, such as a personal essay. This essay is your chance to set yourself apart from other applicants and showcase why you should be chosen. Here's what you should consider including in your essay:

  • Your Reasons for Choosing the Program or School
  • Examples Demonstrating Your Interest in Nursing
  • Previous Medical-Related Experiences, Including Volunteering
  • Personal Achievements

The Three Pillars of Nursing School Success

Success in nursing school hinges on strong study skills, effective time management, and maintaining a healthy school-life balance. Let's explore each of these components in detail.

Component One: Strong Study Skills

Nursing school demands a rigorous approach to studying. To excel, follow these tips:

  • Be Prepared: Ensure you have all the required textbooks and supplies for the semester.
  • Avoid Cramming: Study in short, focused blocks, ideally for less than an hour at a time, daily.
  • Join a Study Group: Collaborate with peers for support and motivation.
  • Create a Distraction-Free Zone: Disconnect from your phone and social media during study time.
  • Attend Classes: Missing lectures can set you back; consistency is key.
  • Manage Test Anxiety: Implement strategies to overcome test anxiety.
  • Seek Help When Needed: Don't hesitate to seek assistance from professors, peers, or resources provided by your school.
  • Retain Course Materials: Nursing coursework is cumulative, so hold onto your textbooks for future reference.

Component Two: Effective Time Management

Efficient time management is essential for balancing nursing school and personal life demands. Consider these strategies:

  • Use a Planner: Keep a planner to organize your academic and personal commitments.
  • Allow Flexibility: Plan for unexpected events; don't make your schedule too rigid.

Component Three: A Balanced School-Life Approach

Nursing school can be mentally and physically taxing. Maintaining a healthy balance is vital:

  • Prioritize Health: Consume balanced meals and get adequate sleep.
  • Keep a Journal: Manage stress by journaling your worries.
  • Communicate with Loved Ones: Inform friends and family of your commitments and ask for their support.
  • Pursue Hobbies: Make time for activities you enjoy to stay mentally focused.
  • Choose Comfort over Fashion: Invest in comfortable shoes to endure long days in clinical work.


What are the key challenges of nursing school?

Nursing school challenges include a demanding curriculum, clinical rotations, and emotional stress. Time management and self-care are essential for success.

How can I balance work and nursing school?

Balancing work and nursing school can be challenging. Consider part-time employment, flexible hours, and support from your employer.

What is the best way to study for nursing exams?

Effective study strategies include active learning, practice questions, and group sessions. Utilize resources like textbooks, online databases, and flashcards.

What are the career prospects after nursing school?

Nursing offers many career opportunities, including specialties like pediatrics, critical care, and research.

How can I cope with the emotional demands of patient care?

Develop emotional resilience through self-reflection, counseling, and seeking support from peers and mentors.

What are some tips for acing clinical rotations?

For successful clinical rotations, be punctual, communicate effectively, and ask questions. Be proactive in your learning and show enthusiasm for patient care.


The nursing school presents undeniable challenges that can be conquered with the right attitude and effective strategies. Success in nursing school transcends mere academic excellence; it involves cultivating essential skills and resilience to provide top-quality patient care. Embrace the journey, lean on your support network when necessary, and keep your unwavering passion for nursing alive.

In summary, while nursing school may be demanding, approaching it with determination and the intention to grow as a student and a compassionate healthcare provider is key to your success. 

It's a path that demands resilience and dedication, but it's also an opportunity to make a profound difference in the lives of others. Embrace the challenges, seek assistance when needed, and let your enthusiasm for nursing fuel your journey toward becoming a skilled and caring nurse.

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