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Old 06-22-2007, 03:44 PM
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My greatest academic weakness? Answering questions like this one! (Nursing school?)

It's that time of my career. Time for me to get serious and write my application essays for nursng school! I'm very qualified, I'm getting As in my prerequisites, and I have glowing recommendations. I'm excited about nursing and can't wait to start.

But....I need to get into one of two extremely competitive nursing schools first. The first one has a deadline that is fast approaching, so I can't put this off any longer. And the essays are KILLING me.

I used to be a fairly good writer, but even then it was hit-or-miss. I could do something fabulous every once in a while (I got into the U of Chicago on an essay about my favorite movie, Back to the Future), but most of the time I'm lackluster in that area (most of my other essays were about being in the color guard). So now I'm a grown woman, and I'm an ideal candidate in many ways, but I have no idea how to stand out, and I'm feeling like I'm 17 again. I have to re-discover who I really am and write about it. Sigh.

The worst part, though, is the part that I need some help with. I'm being asked about my "greatest academic weakness." Now, in job interviews, everyone always says that you should lie about this and say something like, "I guess I can be too much of a perfectionist!" I never do that, I always say something real. For example, could I say I'm not great at physics? Could I say I cram for tests at the last minute? Is that foolish? Is there a game being played? How far can I go?

And then there's the question about "any inconsistencies in my academic history." Should I come right out and say, "I was a depressed slacker in college, and I got some pretty sucky grades during 2nd and 3rd years, but I'm not any more?" I did take a year off due to stress and anxiety and sleep issues between 3rd and 4th years, and I came back with a lot more focus and got better grades. Should I say that the classes I sucked it up in (Chem and Physics) were really, really hard? It's true, but does it sound whiny? Do they get this all the time? Do I sound pathetic? Will they laugh off my sob stories no matter what?

Sorry so long, and if you got this far, thanks for letting me vent!
Old 06-23-2007, 04:01 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Seattle
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By greatest academic weakness, I think they may want to be assured that you have good enough study habits to keep up. Nursing school can be very labor intensive. You can have diadactic, lab and clinical all in the same day. I arrived at my clinical assignment at 6:30 AM and left class at 7:PM five days a week for, what seemed like a life time. (but it was just four years.)
I wouldn't go into specific classes you found difficult. If your grades were ok, they are behind you.

Maybe something along the lines of:
"My study model can be inconsistant. I tend to procrastinate, then study intensively at the last minute. I'm working on changing this habit, by setting aside specific time every evening to study. Since I started my new regime, my grades have improved dramaticly. The change has helped to decrease the anxiety bred of being poorly prepared."


As far as the inconsistancies question, tell them you took whatever time off that you did. Tell them why in the least emotional way possible. Don't say anything about being depressed, as long as you aren't now.

Something like this:
"I took a one year break between my junior and senior years, because I needed to reevaluate my academic choices. My grades had begun to slip, so I felt I needed the break to renew my resolve"

Hope I've been of some help
Old 06-23-2007, 05:33 AM
Cyn Cyn is offline
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Talk about how you overcame your issues---sleep, stress, by formulating a plan and identifying risk factors. How you modified your study habits to become successful. Your main weakness, it seems to me, seems a lack of confidence. A's in your prereqs? You're awesome!
RN school will further change who you are and how you see yourself but I remember what school was like and I love my career---so worth it. And think about changing your name from Millit the Frail to Millit the Strong!

Cyn, OB/GYN RN
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Old 06-23-2007, 10:09 AM
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For academic weaknesses, it seems like you are facing one now. You could talk about sometimes running short of creative approaches to essays. That doesn't seem like a dealbreaker for nursing.
Old 06-23-2007, 07:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by picunurse
By greatest academic weakness, I think they may want to be assured that you have good enough study habits to keep up. Nursing school can be very labor intensive. You can have diadactic, lab and clinical all in the same day. I arrived at my clinical assignment at 6:30 AM and left class at 7:PM five days a week for, what seemed like a life time. (but it was just four years.)
I wouldn't go into specific classes you found difficult. If your grades were ok, they are behind you.

Maybe something along the lines of:
"My study model can be inconsistant. I tend to procrastinate, then study intensively at the last minute. I'm working on changing this habit, by setting aside specific time every evening to study. Since I started my new regime, my grades have improved dramaticly. The change has helped to decrease the anxiety bred of being poorly prepared."

As far as the inconsistancies question, tell them you took whatever time off that you did. Tell them why in the least emotional way possible. Don't say anything about being depressed, as long as you aren't now.

Something like this:
"I took a one year break between my junior and senior years, because I needed to reevaluate my academic choices. My grades had begun to slip, so I felt I needed the break to renew my resolve"

Hope I've been of some help
Thanks for taking the time to write! I think you're spot on in your way of talking about my inconsistencies. I really have improved at my study skills this year, which I should absolutely mention. Heck, there's no way I could be kicking A&P's butt without a lot of self-discipline. And "reevaluate my academic choices" sounds perfect.

I understand nursing school is going to be very hard, but I'm so prepared to do this. It's become the new focus of my life, as I see it as both a great career and a vocation. Wish it hasn't taken me so long to come around, but I'll still be nursing by the time 'm 30, so I'm happy.
Old 06-23-2007, 07:28 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Obama's city
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyn
Talk about how you overcame your issues---sleep, stress, by formulating a plan and identifying risk factors. How you modified your study habits to become successful. Your main weakness, it seems to me, seems a lack of confidence. A's in your prereqs? You're awesome!
RN school will further change who you are and how you see yourself but I remember what school was like and I love my career---so worth it. And think about changing your name from Millit the Frail to Millit the Strong!

Cyn, OB/GYN RN
Aw, thanks! That makes me feel so much better. My husband can give me all the encouraging words in the world, but there's something special about hearing them from someone who actually knows the field. You know, you've really hit on something here with this self-confidence thing. I've struggled with it for a long time, and I'm finally at a point where I feel I can overcome it. My grades right now are really helping...I haven't been at the head of the class like this since high school!

(Oh, and about the username, it's got a goofy history behind it that doesn't have much to do with how I see myself. I just liked the way it sounded when I heard it. But I'll keep what you said in mind--I'm definitely gaining strength along the way!)
Old 06-23-2007, 07:34 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2004
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harriet the Spry
For academic weaknesses, it seems like you are facing one now. You could talk about sometimes running short of creative approaches to essays. That doesn't seem like a dealbreaker for nursing.
That's kind of what I meant by the OP title! It seems a little snarky to say that, but I might include something about it anyway. I have to imagine that they read hundreds of these that all sounds the same, so creativity counts.

I wonder if anyone's made a thread about the "weakness" question before. It seems like there's some hidden code in job interviews and admissions essays where you're supposed to know what they're looking for and play to it. I don't have any of that kind of instinct, but if anyone has the "inside information" on what recruiters are looking for, that would be very valuable.

I'm going to work hard on these essays all weekend, and my husband's a novelist, so he might be a good resource. Thanks for your help and encouragement, I need every bit I can get!
Old 06-23-2007, 08:59 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: noitacol
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I can give an HR perspective on the weaknesses question. Personally, it is not a favorite to ask. However, it is amazing how many candidates, given a little rope, will soundly hang themselves. This question serves that role pretty well. The key is to give an answer that shows some insight into yourself, some insight into the job, and is not a dealbreaker with respect to the job. While creativity may have some application in nursing, I'm guessing that most nursing work involves applying your training and following standard procedure. So maybe nursing is a good fit for you since your grades show you're smart enough to learn the material, you are responsible with good judgment, and have a level of compassion. Knowing that you are not always a font of creativity could be a reason not to go into, say, advertising. And since you have specific examples of struggling with creative essay ideas, then resorting to a more straightforward approach, your response can have a credible level of insight. The whole "oh, I have always struggled with being a perfectionist" thing is pretty hard to make credible.
Old 06-23-2007, 09:02 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Seattle
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Millit the Frail
Thanks for taking the time to write! I think you're spot on in your way of talking about my inconsistencies. I really have improved at my study skills this year, which I should absolutely mention. Heck, there's no way I could be kicking A&P's butt without a lot of self-discipline. And "reevaluate my academic choices" sounds perfect.

I understand nursing school is going to be very hard, but I'm so prepared to do this. It's become the new focus of my life, as I see it as both a great career and a vocation. Wish it hasn't taken me so long to come around, but I'll still be nursing by the time 'm 30, so I'm happy.
I didn't enter nursing school until I was 25. I spent time in the Air Force then married and had a child. I think it was actually a better choice for me than going to college directly out of HS. I was mature enough by then to not allow it to be a waste of time and money.
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