Of course, there are many other factors that go into choosing the right school for you. Some like to make pro/con lists (this is pretty much the post published on March 18th). Others just get a "feeling" when they step foot on a campus. For me, it was a mixture of the two.
This is going to be a long post... so here's a TLDR --
1. NYC -- rich in culture, wide selection of hospitals for quality clinical placements, GOOD FOOD! The subway system also allows me to not have a car throughout school. UPenn requires access to a car during the Master's portion.
2. Quickest way for me to obtain the highest nursing degree - DNP (doctorate in nursing practice) by 2020
3. More financial aid scholarships provided compared to other schools I was debating over
4. No need to obtain second Bachelor's degree (in nursing) -- will start off working towards my Master's Degree in Nursing
5. Residency program during last year of nursing program which allows us to work full time as a nurse practitioner -- good way to gain experience while still considered a nursing student. Columbia will also help with placement if you can't find one on your own. This can be done anywhere across the US.
For me, March has been the month of decision-making. As you may remember from my last nursing school post, I was deciding between UPenn and Columbia. You can check out that post below if you'd like to read about the facts/opinions I had about each program. Please keep in mind that what I listed was information that I felt important enough for me to consider when making the decision. After flying to the east coast for the first time with my dad and visiting both schools, I went home and really considered everything. But, in the end, I knew I needed to choose Columbia. This was the university I obsessively researched about while applying to programs. This was the school I looked up on Instagram over and over again, looking for nursing related posts. #columbianursing #columbianurse. This was the school I knew would help me succeed in my career and professional goals.
Don't get me wrong, it was incredibly difficult to say no to UPenn. As a matter of fact, UPenn's enrollment deposit came a week after I had to submit Columbia's...and I literally waited till the very end to finally turn in the form to decline my admission. It was a little bittersweet, but I am really hoping things for me will go in my favor at Columbia. Living in NYC for the next 3.5 years is pretty daunting to think about. But, also extremely exciting! I figure this may be the only time in my life I could ever imagine myself moving across the country to live in one of the most amazing cities in the world.
So, I guess I should get down to more of the nitty-gritty as to why I chose Columbia --->
--Besides having the opportunity to live in NYC, I really liked the idea of completing the program with a Doctorate in Nursing Practice by 2020. From my understanding, the American Association of Nursing Colleges has been trying to push for nurse practitioner certification at the doctorate level as opposed to the master's level which many programs still have to this day. This push has started since the early 2000s and is still under way of becoming an official requirement. Technically, the goal was to make it a requirement for NPs to have doctorate degrees by 2015. But, as you can tell... this hasn't really become a thing. However, there is a steady increase of doctorate programs across the nation. There will be more NPs in the near future who will catch on and obtain doctorate degrees. I figure it woud be more beneficial to me in the future when I am in the search for a job to have the highest nursing degree possible. This may come across confusing for those who are hearing all this for the first time, so if you have any questions, feel free to contact me through email and I will try my best to further discuss this with you! Or if you have any opinions about this, I would love to hear your thoughts!
--Moving on, Columbia also gave me the more pocket-friendly financial aid package compared to UPenn. Both universities emailed an estimation of total program costs (this includes tuition, room and board, personal expenses, textbooks, equipment, etc.) before the due date for enrollment deposit. These emails also stated various scholarship money I was qualified for, as well as federal direct unsubsidized loan options. Yes, the cost of living in NYC is a lot higher compared to Philly. However, the amount of money Columbia gave me to help cover program costs really outweighed this cost of living factor. I will still be in hundeds of thousands of dollars in debt when I am completely done even with their scholarships.. SIGH.
--Timewise, I also like the idea that I don't have to get a second Bachelor's degree through Columbia's program. I will first obtain my Master's in Nursing Science within the first 15 months, take the NCLEX to become a certified RN, and then continue seamlessly into the DNP (doctorate in nursing practice) portion of the program. This way, I will be done by May 2020 with a Doctorate degree, as opposed to being done by Fall 2019 from UPenn with a Master's degree.
--Columbia also requires the last year 2019-2020 to be a residency year. During this time, I will be working full time as a nurse practitioner. Not only will I be getting my foot through the door as a working NP while still in school, I have the ability to apply for residency anywhere across the country. Also, if I really can't find the job myself, Columbia will help students with placement.
Overall, Columbia is a highly respected university with years of experience creating leaders in our communities. I will obtain the quality education I will need in order to have the knowledge to accurately diagnose and treat patients. They have amazing clinical placements and preceptors so I am ready to be in the work force upon graduation. Their new school of nursing building opening in 2017 will also give me the home where I can become inspired and motivated throughout my years of schooling. I am excited and proud to become a Columbia Lion!
Sorry for the long post, y'all. I guess the point of this post is to help anyone who is considering Columbia's nursing program, or even deciding between any types of graduate schools in general. I wish you all the best of luck in your futures!