Nursing Application Essay

Not everyone dreads the nursing application assay. Some consider writing a strong suit. But others definitely do not. If you fall within the latter category, take heart; submitting a well-crafted, winning essay is not as difficult as it may seem.

It may help to keep in mind that a bad essay probably will not ruin your chances of becoming a nurse. But a good one could mean the difference between getting accepted into a program of your choice, at a time of your choosing, or not. That is because admissions personnel often turn to the application essay to differentiate among candidates who might otherwise seem equivalent. A good application essay can set you apart from the pack and help your application stand out.

Of course, if writing were your passion, you would probably be pursuing a different career. Admissions staff understand this. In addition to giving you a chance to reveal a bit about yourself, and your motivation for becoming a nurse, admissions personnel view the essay as a way to assess skills that go beyond writing ability. It is a quick way to assess whether you are capable of following instructions carefully, for instance.

Follow Instructions Carefully

The essay is a sort of screening tool. Applicants who fail to follow instructions properly are easily weeded out of the pile. This makes sense when you consider the ultimate importance of following instructions and staying on task in nursing school.

And make no mistake, it will be crucial to your success that you always stay on top of your workload, meet expectations, and faithfully meet deadlines. It is far too easy to fall behind—and never catch back up—if you do not keep up with your workload during nursing school.

If the expected length of your essay is not spelled out, assume that you should submit no more than two pages of text. If you are assigned a specific topic, be sure to address it, even if you only use it as a springboard to launch your essay in a new direction.

Do Not Procrastinate

Writing a strong essay may take more time than you realize. Accordingly, it makes sense to allow plenty of time to complete your essay. Unless you are already an accomplished writer, assume that crafting a polished essay will take time, thought, drafting, editing, and rewriting.

It may be helpful to create an outline first. But do not overthink it. Frankly, writing that comes from the heart—not the head—is often some of the most compelling writing there is. But even heartfelt sentiments require a bit of effort to shine on the page. Clear phrasing and attention to detail matter.

Do Not Be Intimidated

The idea of making an outline, and writing drafts, sounds daunting. But it need not be. A rough draft is simply a bunch of words strung together that capture your stream of consciousness. Do not worry about grammar, structure, transitions, or any of those other technical details when writing a draft.

It is called a rough draft for a reason. The point is to gather your thoughts, ideas, and even feelings, and give them voice. Once you have done this, you will find that making corrections, fixing grammar or spelling, and eliminating unclear, unnecessary, or inappropriate words or phrases comes easily. Writers used to do this by hand. Today’s technology makes it remarkably easy to edit on the fly, with minimal effort.

One thing technology cannot do is to make bad writing good, though.

Make It Yours

Avoid the obvious, the expected, or the banal. Recognize that there are certain sentiments that virtually every applicant will be tempted to express. Try to avoid the expected and do something a little different. That does not mean you should be different for the sake of being different. But there is great value in sharing something that 100 other writers will not have said already.

Attempt to craft a strong, compelling opening sentence or paragraph. It is the single most important sentence or two in any piece of writing. You must hook your reader early for optimal impact.

You and your experiences are unique. Take the plunge and dare to bare a bit of your soul in your essay. Most essays are bland to the point of seeming generic. Dare to bring some of the emotion that motivates you into your writing. As noted earlier, writing that comes from the heart is invariably more gripping than soulless writing that appears to follow a template. Allow your essay to tell a story: the story of you. But keep it succinct and keep it honest. Nothing is more compelling.

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