9 Tips for Writing the Perfect NP Program Application Essay

While many NP program application deadlines are still months away, now is the perfect, stress-free time to start getting your application materials together.  Filling out endless amounts of personal information, gathering transcripts and requesting letters of recommendations is easy.  The application essay?  Not so much.

We all hate responding to the types of questions NP program applications typically ask.  "Why do you want to become a nurse practitioner?" and "Talk about a time you overcame a challenge" can be difficult questions to answer...eloquently at least.  Responding by saying you want to become an NP "so you can make decent money and aren't sure what else to do with your life" isn't going to cut it.  

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to make sure your admissions essays are top notch.

  1. Get Specific- Most application essay questions are generic.  This doesn't mean your response should follow suit.  Rather than describing how you feel about a topic, give details.  Outline a specific example from your own personal experience.  This makes your essay more interesting and memorable while highlighting your experience and personality.
  2. Keep it Simple- Admissions staff want to read an essay, not a novel.  Avoid verbosity keeping your essay simple and succinct but complete.  Make sure to stick to specified length guidelines.  They are there for a reason. 
  3. Understand the Role of a Nurse Practitioner-NP program faculty want to know that you understand the role of nurse practitioners.  Make sure you accurately present the NP profession in your essay responses.  If you aren't quite sure what an NP does, job shadow an NP or two for a day to learn more about the career before applying.
  4. Be Concrete-Even if you aren't 100% sure what your future holds, explain your future plans and goals as if they are set in stone.  Saying you "might" do this or you "hope" to do that isn't as powerful as saying you "will".
  5. Keep Your Essay Appropriately Personal- Many essay topics ask you to explain a time you overcame an obstacle or hardship in life.  If your life's major challenge has been extremely personal, choose something else to discuss in your essay. Don't mention your marriage woes or your teen's problems with the law to admissions staff.  Instead, choose something career or volunteer related (but not trivial) even if it isn't actually your life's most insurmountable obstacle.
  6. Follow Directions- Yes, you learned this in kindergarden but some of us still have trouble sticking to guidelines.  If a school asks for an essay written in APA format, for example, make sure you exhaustively research APA requirements and format your essay appropriately.
  7. Brag a Little-Application essays are your chance to shine.  Highlight your career, education and experience.  If you have volunteered extensively or worked in the medical field, share examples of your experiences and how they have helped shape your interest in becoming a nurse practitioner.
  8. Stick with Facts Over Characteristics-When describing yourself in your application essay, examples and facts speak louder than description.  Anyone can say, for example, they are hardworking.  If you can describe your involvement in multiple nursing organizations while raising a family and working full-time in the ICU, however, this proves your industrious character.
  9. Edit, Edit, Edit-Nothing ruins an application essay like typos and misspellings.  Look over your essay multiple times continuing to refine your work.  Then, share it with family, friends and colleagues asking for feedback.  The more eyes you have read your essays before submitting your application, the better. 

NP program faculty are looking at your essays as samples of your writing ability.  Start your application essays early making sure you have enough time to review them thoroughly.  You wouldn't want a poorly written writing sample to hurt your chances of admission.

Questions about your NP program application essay?  Ask other NP's their opinions by commenting below.

 

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