I almost applied to the school as a back-up. Then, I realized that I would never be happy to go to such a school. Yes, it will graduate a functional NP, but it won't satisfy my yearning to truly learn, and it won't make me proud to hold the degree. If I'm going to do this scary step for my future, what purpose would it serve to just have a piece of paper. The tuition at that school was actually slightly higher than the other schools I looked at, and they appeared to give no assistance for finding local preceptorships--the backbone of all NP programs.
I did not do it. At the last minute I decided to value myself and have enough confidence in my abilities to not apply for a fall back school. Instead, I only applied to schools that were top notch, had high academic standards, and were ranked very highly amongst NP schools. I only applied to 'reach' schools, the kind that would be my dream but might be shooting a bit too high and prove to be unattainable.
It was a gamble to make that choice, but I decided it was a gamble worth taking. II asked me what I would do if more than one of those programs accepted me and I refused to even consider it. I was so focused on getting just ONE program to accept me, that I refused to make any decision about what I would do if more than one did so.
By June, I had been accepted into the state program that was highly ranked and highly recommended to me. I had also been accepted into my absolute dream school, one that is arguable Ivy League of NP programs and one of the oldest and consistently top ranked programs in the country. Tuition was nearly identical for the two programs.
For nearly two months, I have wrestled with the decision on which program to attend. With the fall semester just a stone's throw away now, I knew I had to make a final decision yesterday. Then, I had to do the appropriate thing of notifying the other school that I was withdrawing my registration in their program.
There were a few differences. One program starts clinicals before even making a dent in the dydadic work, which makes me nervous. However, that program also has better opportunities for independent research projects. Both have high pass rates for the certification exams. Both have strong repuatations. Everytime I thought I had made a decision one way or another, I questioned my decision.
At the end of the day, the state school only offered the MSN, which will not be sufficient for my career. My dream school, the one that I dreamed of since I first entered nursing admitted me to the DNP program. This will mean I don't have to re-apply for DNP programs once I finish the Master's coursework. Their pass rates for the national certifications is 100%, and you simply cannot do better than that statistic. While the other program was in the top 100 nursing programs, they were in the top 25. Yet, the bottom line was the DNP versus the MSN.
I have notified my academic advisor for the state program and have mailed an official withdrawal letter to the program director. So it seems a decision has been made. As a dear NP friend said to me, choose the program that in ten years will make me smile to see it on my degree. I believe this is the right program.
I'm working hard to finish all of my orientation, registration, and financial aid requirements so I can move forward. I am setting up an office area in my bedroom and a computer dedicated to just my graduate studies. It all comes together and I finally pass a threshold that has been before me since I was 20. In a few short weeks, it will be behind me and I will be in the final three years before I can finally settle into a career for my future.