After sending in your nurse practitioner program application, you eagerly skipped out to your mailbox each evening anticipating a response regarding your admission. One day, thrilled to finally find an envelope emblazoned with a university seal settled on top of the usual stack of magazines and fliers, you excitedly tore open the envelope containing the key to your latest career hopes and dreams. To your horror “REJECTED” or “we regret to inform you” was scrawled across the page. What happens now?
So, you’re received a rejection letter from your nurse practitioner program of choice. Or, even worse, you’ve received rejection letters from all of the NP programs you hoped to attend this fall. Devastated, you are picking your brain in an attempt to figure out how this happened. “Did I spend too little time on my essay?” “Am I lacking in clinical experience?” “Were my grades and GRE scores not up to par?” Once you have processed these feeling of disappointment, its time to take a step back and evaluate your approach to the nurse practitioner program admissions process.
Rejection is emotional, embarrassing, disappointing and unfortunately common among NP program applicants. But, I’m happy to report that there is hope for students rejected from nurse practitioner programs. You have a second chance. If you have recently received a rejection letter in the mail, there are a few steps you can take to ensure success in your next round of applications.
The first thing you should do after being rejected from an NP program is to determine why you were rejected. Many NP program admissions faculty will be happy to meet with you to review your application. So, lift your head up, throw your shoulders back, march into the admissions office (make an appointment first) and ask the experts why your application didn’t make the cut.
If your selected program does not meet with rejected applicants, scrutinize your application on your own. Make sure to compare your submitted materials to admissions requirements on the NP program website. Was there an area you fell short? Did you flub your essays? Perhaps your GRE scores were below the recommended ranges? Ask a close friend or family member who gives honest feedback for their opinion of your application. Chances are an objective third party can find areas for improvement in your writing and overall appearance of your app.
Once you have identified the factors responsible for your NP program rejection, work on improving upon these areas. While some factors like number of years of clinical experience are beyond your control, there is always room for improvement in your application package. For example, if admissions faculty cited lack of experience as a reason for rejection, continue to work until the next application period for your program f choice. Seek additional experiences such as volunteering or a PRN position allowing you to work extra hours. Draw attention to the fact that you have made a concerted effort to overcome this weakness in your next application. If your GPA, for example, doesn’t meet the standards of the university you hope to attend, enroll in a graduate level nursing course and excel proving to admissions staff that you have renewed your commitment to excelling academically.
If you were unable to find a specific reason for your NP program rejection, work on your application package as a whole. Make sure you are a member of a local and national nursing organization, this shows commitment to the profession. Start reworking your application essay. Essays are extremely important in the NP program application process as graduate programs are writing intensive. Admissions faculty use your writing abilities as a predictor of how well you will fare in their nurse practitioner program. Ask family and friends to read over your essay helping to make improvements.
As you work on perfecting your application and improving upon personal, academic and professional areas of weakness, reapply to the NP program you hope to attend. Persistence in applying to a university along with working to transform your application weaknesses into strengths shows admissions faculty you are committed to their school and to becoming a nurse practitioner. Ask to interview with faculty at your prospective program so you can make a case for admission personally as well. Faces are more memorable to NP program staff than a written application packet.
Even if there is one specific NP program you want to attend, consider applying to multiple programs to increase your chances of admission. If you initially applied to a prestigious NP program, reapply to that program but also submit applications to one or two other less competitive programs.
While rejection is tough to deal with, move past the feelings of gloom and disappointment and take a proactive approach to getting admitted to your NP program of choice. There is always a second chance at starting your nurse practitioner career.