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Q&A: “Should I choose a public or private school for my BSN?”


iStockphoto | ThinkStock + Scrubs

iStockphoto | ThinkStock + Scrubs

Many nurses struggle when deciding whether to choose a public or a private school to earn their BSN degrees. This applies whether you are new to the nursing field or have been working as a nurse for many years and want to go back to earn your bachelor’s degree.

The first thing to know is that there’s no right or wrong answer to this question. The answer will vary depending on who’s applying and the schools they’re applying to. However, there are a few considerations you can make to find the best answer for you!

Consideration #1: Is the school accredited?

This is a biggie – the public or private debate may not matter at all if a program you are considering is not accredited. Not only can this result in a lack of job opportunities, it also can hinder you if you ever decide to go back to earn advanced degrees, as the classes you took at a non-accredited institution may not be able to be used as prerequisites.

Consideration #2: How much can you afford?

In general, private schools will cost more than public schools. But the costs of both can be offset by scholarships, grants and loans. The real question is how much can you afford, and how much debt will you be able to handle?

This obviously varies depending on your individual circumstances. Are the costs worth it in some cases? Certainly, but you also don’t want to be paying off debt until you retire, particularly if you could have landed the same job by spending less money at a different school.

Consideration #3: What education experience are you looking for?

This consideration may not be at the top of your mind when choosing a school. But think of this: Someone just entering the nursing field may want a “traditional,” four-year college experience. For some, this may entail going to a small, private school.

However, a nurse who has been working for many years and wants to go back to earn a BSN may not be as concerned with what campus is like and what student activities are offered. Instead, this prospective student may be more concerned with schedule flexibility and how quickly the program can be completed.

Of course, there are many more considerations to make depending on your specific circumstances. For those who have graduated, what made you choose to go the public or private route, and what advice would give those currently making the decision? Let us know in the comments below!

Additionally, don’t forget to share your experiences at your alma mater in our Nurse’s Guide to Nursing Schools. If you’re considering schools, be sure to check out the Guide for ratings and rankings!


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