A Guide to Finding Nursing Community Colleges and Health Care Trade Schools

Q: I want to study nursing at a community college. How can I find out what is available?

A: One way you can start is by searching for nursing programs with the search tool at DiscoverNursing.com. Another helpful resource is the community college finder search tool at American Association of Community Colleges.

Q: How can I find out which community colleges offer the best nursing programs?

A: One important measure of the quality of a school is whether or not it is accredited. Accreditation is a voluntary process in which schools engage to prove the worth of their programs. Several different agencies bestow accreditation, so to ensure good quality, there are a few agencies that monitor and oversee accreditation. Find out if the community colleges you are interested in attending are accredited by quality agencies by visiting the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, both of which maintain excellent up-to-date listings of accredited institutions.

Q: When I graduate from a nursing program, what degree will I have?

A: There are different nursing programs available at community colleges, and the program in which you enroll will determine what type of degree or certification you will have upon graduation. Many community colleges offer certificate programs, which are shorter terms of study and offer opportunities to work in careers such as a nursing assistant. Most community colleges also offer associate degrees, which are usually two-year programs, and will prepare you to become a registered nurse. Many community colleges also offer Bachelor’s degrees, which will also prepare you to become a registered nurse, but will provide you with many more career opportunities within the field of nursing.

Q: What kind of job opportunities can I expect to find after graduating from a nursing program at a community college?

A: If you have received a nursing certificate, you may find a job as a nursing assistant, home health aide, psychiatric aide, or other aide in the health field. With an associate or Bachelor’s degree, you can work towards becoming a registered nurse, after passing the NCLEX-RN exam. Registered nurses are currently in high demand and the career outlook is bright with jobs expected to be growing faster than average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Q: Will I be prepared to pass the NCLEX-RN exam after graduation?

A: Most nursing programs at community colleges prepare students for the NCLEX-RN exam. Many programs offer practice exams as a part of the curriculum as well as other opportunities for preparation. Nursing programs with a high pass rate on the NCLEX-RN exam receive recognition, so it is beneficial for both the student and the school to prepare graduates for success on the NCLEX-RN.

Q: Can I get financial aid for a nursing program at a community college?

A: It is very likely that you will be able to receive financial aid for a nursing program at a community college. The first thing you should do is speak with someone at the financial aid office at the school you are interested in attending to discover what opportunities are available. Next, check out the financial aid section of American Association of Colleges of Nursing. You can find many opportunities for undergraduate nursing students, including scholarships and loan forgiveness programs. Finally, you should not overlook the federal student loans, grants, and scholarships available. Visit FAFSA to find out for what programs you might qualify and to start the financial aid application process.

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