Clock is running out for nursing majors deciding to study in Waco or Dallas

Placentia, Calif., sophomore Taylor Becker attends a football game last year with her friends. She is deciding whether or not she wants to leave her Waco friends behind to go to the Louise Herrington School of Nursing a semester early or wait until next fall. Photo courtesy of Taylor Becker.

By Lucy Ruscitto | Staff Writer

Every semester, pre-nursing students are faced with a sentimental task: packing their bags and moving 2-hours north to the heart of Dallas to study at the Louise Herrington School of Nursing, taking all of their nursing knowledge and Waco memories with them.

According to Nursing Schools Guide, the Louise Herrington School of Nursing is “competitive, and priority is given to applicants that have taken at least 32 credits of their 66 credits of general education classes at Baylor in Waco.”

In order for a student to be a qualified applicant, they must have at least a 3.0 GPA with no grades lower than a C. Additionally, students applying the Louise Herrington School of Nursing need to have finished at least 44 general credits.

Placentia, Calif., sophomore Taylor Becker is a Baylor pre-nursing student but is unique in her circumstances — after this semester, she will be ready to go to nursing school a semester earlier than a lot of her peers.

“The nursing curriculum is split into prerequisites, and at that point you’re considered a pre-nursing student,” she said. “There’s Pre-Nursing 1 and Pre-Nursing 2, and you have to complete all of your prerequisite courses before you can move on to nursing school.”

Becker said that Louise Herrington School of Nursing sets up their own prerequisite courses depending on what the school believes is going to help you the most. Additionally, Becker said that the “wonderful” nursing advisors do everything they can to assist pre-nursing and nursing students, both in Dallas and in Waco.

Monica Mullins, director of student services at the School of Nursing, assists in advising incoming pre-nursing, pre-nursing and current nursing students. She said she would compare herself to the advising staff in the Sid Richardson Building. Mullins has a staff of 10 people with her in Dallas providing support for students.

“We have our own chaplain, we have our own student success people, our own career planning people, our own financial aid officer … so I supervise that team and are providing support for our students,” Mullins said.

Mullins said that she jokingly nicknamed herself the “I-35,” because she reaches out and connects with nursing students both in Dallas with her and in Waco.

“I am trying to hold one hand out to the pre-nursing students and being connected with them on the Waco campus, and then you know obviously I’m here on the Dallas campus, most of the time,” Mullins said.

Mullins said that first and foremost, her and her colleagues are attempting to be just simply be there for nursing students, being someone they feel comfortable reaching out to.

“I really want our freshmen and sophomores to say like, ‘There are people there who care about me and I’m going to those people,’” Mullins said.

Mullins said the reason she loves doing academic counseling and advising in the nursing school specifically is because of the transition aspect.

“I’m really passionate about supporting students who are going through transitions because that’s when all the good growth happens,” Mullins said. “Transitions are hard.”

Becker said that Friday is the deadline for those who applied to nursing school to accept their admittance. Currently, she said she still doesn’t know what she plans to do. She is in the process of weighing the benefits and drawbacks of leaving Baylor a semester early to head to Dallas.

“Pros of going early are obviously you graduate a semester early, so you save a semester of tuition. You can kind of get a semester length of time ahead in career experience if you’re planning to apply to graduate school,” Becker said. “Usually it’s a smaller cohort who goes in the spring, so you can get to know people a little more.”

On the other hand, Becker said there are numerous reasons that compel her to stay, the number one cause being the fear of not being present for on-campus events and activities that she missed out on last semester because of the pandemic.

“You’re missing out on the activities here in Waco that are happening during the week, and up at the nursing school they have their own, it’s a really good community up there. But because you’re with just nursing students it’s a different experience, everyone’s on the same schedule,” she said. “So, you have to drive back to Waco to be involved in like your sorority [on campus] or go to football games and stuff like that.”

Becker additionally said that it is not only the physical events and aspects nursing majors are excluded from — it’s the community.

“Also just not being with the people that you have here in Waco. It’s like a long distance relationship, but it gives you a reason to come back,” Becker said.

While Becker continues to ponder about her decision to leave for Dallas or spend the extra semester at Baylor’s main campus, she said she would advise pre-nursing majors in her position or pre-nursing freshmen to carefully consider the choice.

“It’s about your heart and what’s going to benefit you in the long run, because you can’t go back. So just making the decision that will leave you with no regrets,” Becker said.