Nursing School Environment
When you've figured out what kind of nursing degree you want, what nursing schools in your desired geographical areas have the best academic nursing programs, and how much you can afford to pay for nursing school, an important next step is to look at what kind of school environment will work best for you.
Consider size. Do you want to go to a big nursing school where you might have more access to physical and social resources such as a gym, swimming pool, extra curricular activities or affinity groups?
Or are you the kind of person who would prefer the intimacy of small nursing schools where you are known better by instructors and the class size (may be) more manageable?
For possibly the best of both worlds, another option is to attend a regional campus of a large university, which can provide the advantages of a bigger nursing school (name recognition of school by employers, access to facilities) with the atmosphere of a smaller campus.
Certain nursing student opportunities, such as participating in research or being involved in intercollegiate athletics are only available at certain types of institutions. Also, some schools have a better record than others of involving students in the surrounding community, which might be an important factor for a student who values community service.
Visiting the campus becomes very important at this point. Programs can be nearly identical, but your personal response to the atmosphere of the school can help you decide where you will be most comfortable. Ask for the standard campus tour, but don't let it stop there. Interview (informally, if that seems more appropriate) nursing faculty and students in and out of your major. Hang out in the library and computer labs. This can help you get a feel for the learning environment.
Look around a little bit. While it's true that a beautiful campus does not a nursing school make, you are going to be spending a lot of time on there. If the sight of a duck pond and a waterfall is going to make it easier for you to get through each day, by all means make that a factor in your choice of school.
Also, check how far the nursing school is from the sites where you will be doing your clinical. This is particularly important if you will be relying on public transportation, rides from good-hearted fellow nursing students, or your own two feet to get you there.