How to choose your access to nursing course

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Access to Higher Education courses are a brilliant way of gaining a place at university to study nursing or midwifery, particularly if you haven’t followed a ‘conventional’ education route like A Levels. Fortunately, thousands of colleges across the country offer such courses, so if you have decided that nursing is the right path for you, there are plenty of options.

Check which local institutions offer access to nursing courses

If you have heard good things about a particular further education centre in your area, make sure you head onto their website or telephone reception to check if they offer an access to nursing course you can apply to. Many colleges are happy to give advice about how and when to apply, so a simple phone call should immediately put you on the right track to drawing up a list of potential places to study.

Look into pass rates and the support each college offers

The nature of an access course is that it’s standardised – this means that you should expect to learn the same modules wherever you go, which in turn prepares you for the rigours of a nursing degree anywhere in the country. One thing that may well differ, though, is the quality of the teaching and the support you are offered by the wider staff. Compare the colleges’ pass rates and look into what their students are doing a year after leaving college – this might indicate whether the course is up to scratch.

Look at extracurricular activities

Your access to nursing course will typically be a year long if not two, so it’s very important to consider whether you will actually enjoy being a part of their student community. Make sure you look into the sporting clubs, student societies, gym facilities, cafes, bars, and all other aspects of the overall student experience. After all, part of becoming a health professional is learning when to relax!

Look at other benefits such as childcare and parking

There are hundreds of different reasons why people take access courses – sometimes it will be because a student has left school because of illness or poor mental health, or to go and have a baby. If this is the case for you, be sure to check with your favourite colleges what facilities they have for diverse groups of students. Many of them will have childcare facilities or offer vouchers for selected nurseries. All will have disabled access (it’s the law) but some may offer disabled students grants or equipment loans to help them with their studies.

Do they have links with universities in the area?

Lastly, the main reason for studying an access course is to gain that all important university offer. Many colleges have both formal and informal links with universities that are close by to them, and students are encouraged to go on visits, tours, open days and even residential courses organised by the university departments they are interested in. If you have a particular university in mind, it may be worth checking whether they have links with certain colleges and directing your efforts there.

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