For most nurse practitioner programs, application season has passed. Schools have mailed out fat and skinny envelopes to eager NP prospects resulting in excitement or sorrow depending on admission status. If you received a rejection letter from a nurse practitioner program this year, there are a few things you can do to step up your game for application round 2. For starters, it’s important to recognize where your application fell short.
In speaking with NP program admissions faculty, there are a few common reasons aspiring nurse practitioners are rejected from NP programs. Identifying your application weaknesses is important if you plan to reapply. You certainly don’t want to submit a similar application this fall and be met once again with a “No” from your nurse practitioner programs if interest. Here are a few of the most common reasons NP program applicants receive rejection letters.
1. You don’t actually know what a nurse practitioner does
Believe it or not, one of the main things admissions faculty hope to see reflected in your admissions essays, personal statement, and overall NP program application is that you understand the nurse practitioner role. For example, if you have applied to an FNP program then express an interest in a career working in the ICU, either you don’t understand the FNP role or your goals are misaligned. Think about what a nurse practitioner does, job shadow an NP or two if you aren’t sure, and illustrate this newfound understanding in your app.
If you can portray an accurate understanding of both the day to day life of an NP, and how nurse practitioners fit into the overall structure of the healthcare system, it will put your next app ahead of the pack.
2. Your essays are crap
We all hate writing personal statements and application essays. It sounds unnatural to brag about yourself by choosing one or two instances where you let your skills shine. But, application essays are of the utmost importance. Not only are your NP program application essays a chance to work in any additional credentials and character qualities that aren’t reflected on the rest of your app, they are a demo of your writing skills.
Graduate schools need to know you can write. Writing is at the core of higher education whether you are pursing a degree in nursing or medieval history. If your application essays are sloppily written you can be assured they will be tossed into the recycle bin, the theory being if you can’t write well you don’t have what it takes to succeed at the master’s level. Spend the necessary time on application essays and personal statements. Enlist the help of friends and family in the editing process. Whatever you do, make your essays shine on application round 2.
3. You bombed your interview
Interviews are important. They are your chance to make an in-person impression on NP program faculty. So, you can’t mess them up. The first step toward acing your admissions interviews the second time around is dressing for success. Ditch the capri pants and flip-flops instead opting for a suit. Come prepared with a few questions about the program. Think about what the interviewer might ask and have your responses down pat. Finally, practice, practice, practice. Sitting in front of a mirror, practice answering potential interview questions with confidence and ease. Yeah, you will feel stupid talking to an imaginary being at home with your dog lookig on, but trust me, it helps.
4. Transcripts don’t lie
Transcripts and test scores are the only objective piece of your NP program app. You can’t change them this late in the game. Or, can you?
If your GPA is lacking, take some steps to prove your academic worth before you reapply. Enroll in a course on advanced pathophysiology, or pharmacology and ace it. This shows admissions staff that although you may not have been focused as an undergrad you now have what it takes to succeed.
Padding your transcript can also be a problem. Not only do NP program admissions faculty look at your overall GPA, they take into account your course load. Which types of classes did you take? If your transcript is heavy on courses like “Rocks for Jocks; Geology 101”, a 4.0 won’t be as impressive to an admissions team as if you had achieved an impressive GPA by taking classes in molecular and cellular biology. Consider showing off your academic abilities by taking some extra science-heavy courses on the side.
Where was your NP program application the weakest? In what areas could you use the most improvement? Take a close look at your NP program application, your credentials, and interview technique. Critique it carefully and make the changes necessary to compensate. Also, consider meeting with admissions staff in the programs from which you were denied admission. Admissions faculty can give you direct answers for the reason of your rejection. Then, make a concerted effort to improve these aspects of your app so you are a stronger candidate in 2015. Good luck!
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