In the past, California community colleges were required to use a lottery based system to pick students for their nursing class once they completed certain prerequisite courses and tests. The community college programs were regarded as an option available to all students due to the lottery. Today, that is rapidly changing to a system where 90% of the students picked are by rank order in terms of academic merit (prerequisite GPA and test scores). The remaining 10% are chosen by lottery. One quirk of this process is that they cannot use cumulative GPA since it will involve a different set of courses for every student. The only GPA that will count are those in the prerequisite courses. This way, everyone is evaluated by the same group of courses.
Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing at Four-Year Public Universities in California (UC and CSU)
Those with a 4.0 GPA should apply at the CSU (California State University) and UC (University of California) schools such as San Jose State Nursing School and the prestigious UCLA School of Nursing to maximize their chances of getting in if a bout of bad luck arises. Although the CSU nursing programs and UC nursing programs are publicly funded, they generally pick the best and brightest students based upon merit rather than by lottery.
Community College Nursing Program Admissions Lottery
This doesn’t mean you can earn straight Fs in nursing school prerequisites and roll the dice at your California community college. The problem with that is you’ll be refused entry into the lottery. The chancellor gets to set a formula that consists of your GPA, science repeats, and test scores to estimate your chances of surviving a two year associate of science nursing program. If you fall below the minimum threshold for this, you don’t get an entry into the lottery.
So let’s say you have passing grades in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, and all of those long list of courses they want as well as the 2.5 minimum cumulative GPA. The next thing they do is to put you in the lottery. If your number gets picked, congratulations. If you’re close, you get put on a waiting list. If your number doesn’t get picked, better luck next time. That would be quite tragic if you had to postpone your nursing career because you were unlucky at your local community college. The solution to this problem is to apply at every single community college within driving distance and hope for the best. In order to do this, you may have to take additional courses that one or two colleges require while the rest don’t. However, all community colleges will require you to take anatomy, physiology, and microbiology. There won’t be that many extra courses to worry about.
Other Registered Nursing Schools and Colleges in California
Despite applying widely and broadly, it’s very possible you won’t get into ANY community college nursing program in your area. Unfortunately, that means considering other options such as the UC and CSU systems or private universities with RN programs. There are many good private university nursing programs in the state with good reputations, but they usually come with a high price tag that will require some student loans. Even with high tuition, it’s still not easy to get in. Remember, nursing is a high-demand major. A GPA of less than 3.25 in the science prerequisites will significantly lower your chances of getting into an expensive private university’s nursing program. The reason for this is that the size of the entering class is small, usually 20-40 people.
The CSU and UC systems accept students on academic merit as well. They are still very hard to get into their nursing programs, but it’s getting slightly easier since many public 4-year universities have stopped accepting second baccalaureate or postbac students.
No matter what option you choose, it’s not a sure thing that you’ll get in anywhere in order to pursue a RN nursing license and a nursing degree. Look at this list of nursing programs to find the right one for you. If you want a sure thing, change your major to History, but your future career success won’t be a sure thing anymore either.