Should I retake some of my undergraduate courses to become a more competitive CRNA school applicant?
This question is probably the most common question I get asked. Whether it’s due to money, time restraints, or a low GPA preventing them from getting accepted into a CRNA program.
This is actually a great question because it means you have your thinking cap on trying to figure out what will increase your chances of acceptance. I know for me I was willing to retake any course to get into my program. But before you go that route there are some things you need to consider.
First, how do CRNA schools really feel or look at repeated courses? Of course, each program is different but I feel they just generally want to see a steady trend of progression on your journey to becoming a CRNA. So instead of taking my word for it, I passed this question along to a CRNA school admissions expert.
Do CRNA schools frown upon repeated courses?
When posed with this question, here is what the Program Director, Dr. Greg Bozimowski, CRNA, DNP of Detroit Mercy Nurse Anesthesia, had to say:
“No general rule. We see retakes all the time. I’d say if the grade in a Bio science is <3.0 they really need to retake that and if they also take a grad course it goes a long way to convince us that they are now ready.”
So as you see there may be no general rule which leads directly to my next point. Regardless of whether you retake any courses, the key is to be intentional with your actions going forward so you are not just taking random classes for the sake of taking them.
Now, let’s look at 7 key points you need to consider before retaking any courses.
What are you actually trying to accomplish?
The best way to be intentional and strategic with your actions is by first determining what the end goal is. So, you need to be constantly thinking “what am I trying to accomplish by retaking this course”? And to help you out even further it usually comes down to a few reasons. You are looking to:
- Improve your overall GPA. Now If retaking to boost GPA and you’ve taken a lot of courses you may not see much of an increase in GPA. However, if retaking a course boosts your science GPA or will actually replace the grade of a previously taken course then it may make more sense to do it.
- Replace a lower grade. It’s always a good idea to replace a science course in which you received anything less than a “B” and especially an “F”. But at the same time here is something else to think about, “Could you spend your time working on other areas to offset your lower grades?”
- Prove to yourself and the admissions committee you can handle the rigors of a CRNA program. You will not only prove it to the admissions committee but you will also prove to yourself that you can handle the coursework and therefore would make a great SRNA (Student Registered Nurse Anesthetist).
- Take a science “refresher” course. I know it’s time-consuming and expensive retaking courses however, if it’s been a long time since you’ve taken any science courses then it would serve you well to take a course as a refresher. So now you not only get a great grade but you get a review of the fundamentals which is critical to your success in CRNA school.
Do you really need to retake courses?
Well, it really depends. While it may be a great option for some aspiring CRNA school applicants, for others it may be a waste of time. The only way to know for sure is to first get your transcripts for all your undergraduate courses. This way you are not guessing what grade you got way back then and you can also calculate your GPA.
Next, if you know for sure what CRNA school you are applying to then you can contact the program director for advice on what to do next. Also, this is a great way to get your name out there and get on their radar that you are interested in their CRNA program. Of course, have all your information together so you can keep the email or call brief. And you don’t want to overdo it and start to get on their nerves.
What else can you do to show progression?
While grades and GPA are important, your acceptance to CRNA school is based on a number of things. The admissions committee will look at the whole YOU! So things to show progression includes:
- ICU experience
- Upward trends in grades
- GRE scores
- CCRN certification
- CV/ Personal Statement
- and so on…
There is so much more that goes into getting accepted to a CRNA program and your grades are one piece of the puzzle. Therefore, do not let your grades stop you from going after your goal of becoming a CRNA.
Check the course description & weight of the course
Before taking any course to replace a previously taken course you should make sure the course description and weight of the course are the same. Basically, you want to ensure the same material is being covered so it can be used as a replacement course. Also no matter what course you take, the college or university must be fully accredited for the course to count.
Figure out why you got a low grade the first time
This is very important. Instead of mulling over what courses you are going to retake, I would mull over why you didn’t get the grade you needed the first go-round. I know there are a host of reasons for your low grades, but now is the time to figure out what you will do differently to get an “A” this time.
Having a solid understanding of your learning style will help you down the road once in CRNA school. So the best time to figure this out is before you take the course for a second time. There are different learning styles such as visual, auditory, reading/ writing, and/ or kinesthetic. You could actually be a combination of all of them. Here is a questionnaire to figure out your learning style so you never have to worry about getting the grades you need.
Will this course replace the previous course grade
Depending on the CRNA program, grade replacement may or may not be allowed. Some programs will only accept the second grade, which may not be the better grade when calculating the GPA. While other programs may count both course grades in the overall GPA. Again, contact the CRNA program directly so you know exactly how to proceed.
These are just some generalized tips and things to consider because each CRNA school is created differently. But the fact you are here shows you are willing to do what is needed to become a CRNA.
Not to keep harping on contacting the CRNA program first, But it’s worth saying again. Before going any further and signing up for courses you may not even need to take, reach out to the school. They are usually more than willing to evaluate your transcripts and also look at any courses you are thinking of taking. This will save you a ton of time and money that you will need for CRNA school.