I receive a lot of questions about nurse practitioner program applications. From deciding how many applications to submit to drafting a personal statement, the NP program application process can be quite overwhelming. Another concern among many applicants is that nurse practitioner programs seem to be quite competitive. While many universities are home to selective nurse practitioner programs, they may not be quite as difficult to get into as it appears looking at their stats.
Over brunch with a friend who also happens to be a college admissions faculty member at a prestigious university, I learned a few juicy tidbits about the admissions world. While this particular friend has a career focused on undergrads, the same principles apply to programs at all levels of the educational continuum. Here’s the scoop.
Colleges and universities are numbers oriented. They want their programs to look selective and competitive to better their public image. Publishing an acceptance rate of 25% looks much better than admitting 80% of applicants. As a result, what we will call ‘creative’ data tracking ensues. Essentially, universities fudge the numbers. Big name universities like Emory and George Washington University have been caught misrepresenting admissions data in past years. Illinois’s law school was fined for falsifying admissions data along with about 15 other law schools.
To make numbers appear more favorable, and schools appear more selective, some admissions offices engage in shady practices. For example, they count students who fill out forms of interest or who begin but do not complete an application as ‘applicants’. Then, when acceptance letters go out, the ratio of offer letters to ‘applicants’ is lower. In reality, however, many of these students counted as applicants never intended to follow through with their interest in the school at all. All they did was fill out their name and address on a sheet of paper. This practice is commonly used in colleges and universities nationwide.
If you are a prospective nurse practitioner student, you certainly need to have your act together. A solid GPA, competitive GRE scores, and prerequisite experience is a must. You are applying to a professional program. But, if you feel you may fall short or are shying away from applying to a competitive nurse practitioner program based on a few data points, you may want to rethink your decision.
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