We’re going back to basics this week, as we get ready for our next Open House on October 27th. I thought I would get to one of the more pressing, and basic, admissions questions that pop up around this time of year. So with no further ado, here we go!
At Academy for Five Element Acupuncture, we have two enrollment cycles each calendar year. Classes start in August and January. For many students looking to start training as an acupuncturist, this begs the always pertinent question: when should I apply?
Underlying this question is another question: when is the best time to apply? Most prospective students that I work with are both eager and anxious. And the combination of those two emotions comes in different combinations for every student: some are more eager than anxious, and some let their anxiety get in the way of their excitement and eagerness. Students looking to become acupuncturists possess an immense amount of care and compassion. They’re excited to follow a dream, to contribute to the world. But that compassion and drive doesn’t eliminate the anxiety of the risk involved in changing the course of their lives. Whatever the levels of anxiety and excitement, though, everyone wants to apply at the best time and showcase themselves in their best possible light. Hopefully, this post will help ease some of those nerves.
I can tell you that there is no “best” time to apply in the Academy’s eyes. It’s more about planning ahead so that you can go through the admissions process smoothly, rather than panicking because something is missing at the deadline. The application deadline is always 6 weeks prior to the start date of a class. This means that you do not have to apply a year ahead of time. So for the August class, early to mid-July is the cut-off date to receive applications. For the January class, it’s early December. These are working dates to keep in the back of your mind, but it’s important to remember that these are deadlines, not recommendations. Those 6 weeks allow us to process applications and financial aid, but waiting until the last minute can be hair-raising for the applicant as they wait. You never know what kind of complication can arise (though we actively seek to make the process as smooth as possible). And there are aspects of the process that are out of both the Academy’s control, and the applicants. Like transcripts and letters of recommendation.
The average application takes a minimum of 5 weeks to process. This depends on how quickly an applicant’s transcripts arrive, and how prompt an applicants’ recommendation writers are. Letter writers are, unfortunately, notorious for holding up the process. Transcript requests get lost, or can take up to a month to process. Filling out the application online and submitting the admissions essay are easy because they are under an applicant’s control, the other pieces aren’t. And the resulting delay in the application process can be frustrating. Therefore, it’s extremely important to factor in the time it takes for schools and letter writers to submit their portions of your application. As well-intended as your letter writers are, their lives get busy and these sorts of responsibilities often fall by the wayside. So, always give others as much advance notice as you possibly can.
Additionally, if you’re applying for the January class, consider what else is happening at that time of year. The winter holidays have a tendency to interfere with the enrollment cycle as school administrations close and the financial aid process slows down. The Academy itself is closed for the week of Christmas and New Year’s. So if you’re a late-comer, the early-December deadline is an imperative. You must have your materials in by that time. There’s no need to add additional stress and running about to an already hectic time of year.
The best advice I can give any interested applicant is this: apply as early as you are ready. If you’re looking for admission to the August class, April and May are good months to apply. It gives you plenty of time to get your materials in and allows you time to secure housing for the first intensive and book any travel arrangements. You also have time to visit the Academy and take part in our June Open House.
For the January class, September and October are ideal months to apply. Again, this gives plenty of time to complete your applications, while also leaving enough time in the process to make housing and travel arrangements. Travel arrangements are particularly important at this time of year even though classes start after the holidays. If you’re coming from farther away and have to fly to Florida, it’s best to be able to plan ahead.
This isn’t to say that if you apply in July or in December your application will be overlooked. We treat all applicants equally and give them the time they require. But for peace of mind, I recommend applying a few months in advance to allow for a smooth transition between your old way of life, and the new adventure you’re undertaking.
I hope this helps. And if I’ve managed to raise new questions about starting our program, please feel free to call the admissions office any time. You’re also invited to bring your questions to the Open House on October 27th. For the complete itinerary for the day, please see our website, http://www.acupuncturist.edu. We look forward to seeing you there!
There are two very commonly asked questions that students interested in Academy for Five Element Acupuncture ask me: how does the intensive schedule work and what are corequisites? While I’ve addressed the intensive structure in another post, these two questions are actually related. Allow me to explain, and in the process, answer this perennial question.
First and foremost, corequisites are western science courses that are required for graduation but are not taught at the Academy. These courses are: Anatomy & Physiology II, General Nutrition, and three Biomedical Electives. The intensive schedule is already jam-packed with the study of Five Element Acupuncture theory, technique and practice. An intensive session is meant to be an immersive experience focused on developing one’s senses, learning the location of acupuncture points, as well as the spirit of those points and how to put them together in a treatment plan. As a result, there are courses that we cannot fit into the intensive schedule.
So how do our students complete these classes? There are two options: (1) Students can transfer credit for these courses from previous coursework or (2) Students complete them concurrently with their acupuncture coursework at outside institutions.
Many students have already taken one or two of the corequisite courses as part of their Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs. So, those students transfer that credit to our program and do not have to repeat those classes (I don’t know anyone who wasn’t excited about not having to retake A&P II). Transfer credits need to be from an accredited institution and have been completed within the last 15 years. And being able to transfer previous coursework means that those students can focus solely on their acupuncture training. This prospect means that some students actually decide to complete all of their corequisites first, and then apply to our program. It’s a reasonable choice, but it’s important to keep in mind that corequisites are different from pre-requisites. They do NOT have to completed before enrollment.
For those students who want to forge ahead and get started, they can complete their remaining corequisites while they are simultaneously enrolled at the Academy. It might sound like a lot to juggle, but most students choose online courses to meet their corequisite requirements. The flexibility of the intensive structure and online course offerings make completing corequisite courses easier and integrative. Online classes are accepted as transfer credit provided again that the institution offering the courses is properly accredited and the student has gone through the course approval process.
Completing corequisites concurrently with acupuncture coursework is very doable, provided that students have a plan. Students receive their transcript evaluation during the admissions process, so they know from the first day where they stand. I then meet with each student individually during the first intensive, and then throughout the successive intensives, to determine a time-frame of when to take these classes. We readjust as life and other responsibilities make it necessary. I also have a list of online programs and other community colleges where students can take classes. So students are not on their own when it comes to figuring out what to take and where.
The overwhelming majority of students transfer in at least one or two corequisite classes when they start. And for those who have more classes to take, I work with them to tailor those classes to their future interests as acupuncture practitioners. So this process isn’t one to get too worried about once you know what it is all about. The key is planning from the very beginning, and remembering that there is support in the planning process.
Are you curious about how your credits might transfer? Are you unsure of what you’ve already completed? Please don’t hesitate to contact me with all of your questions.
‘Tis the end of the admissions season and all the applications are in for the January class. We have a rolling admissions policy here at Academy for Five Element Acupuncture so that students can apply and be able to plan for their first intensive with plenty of time. But there is always a flurry of applications at the deadline, students who were on the fence finally decide to take the plunge, life circumstances fall into place, etc. With that end-of-the-season flurry comes transcripts and letters of recommendation, and a number of interviews.
The last stage of our admissions process is a phone interview, and because so many of our students are commuting from other states, we conduct our interviews over the phone. (We’re not about to require our applicants from Alaska to fly down to Florida for the interview). And it happens every enrollment cycle, the same questions from nervous and excited applicants: how do I prepare for the interview? What do I need to do for it?
Interviews can be nerve-wracking. They’re often synonymous with interrogation and judgement. After all, this is the Executive Director of the school asking you questions, and her opinion counts. But while our Director is making a decision about your application based on the conversation, the interview isn’t meant to be an interrogation. It is, in fact, very much a conversation to determine the applicant’s level of commitment to this path. It’s one more way to see how ready you are to begin the program. And the more questions you ask, the more your investment shows.
The interview (as well as the admissions essay) is very much a way to tell your story. The “why” you applied. Above and beyond that, it’s a reminder for you, the applicant, why you want to become an acupuncturist. This is a point that I whole-heartedly believe cannot be overstated. Knowing why you’re embarking on this path will help you through the difficult parts. This is a graduate level program. When you graduate you will hold a Master of Acupuncture degree in your hands. Each intensive asks you to commit that much more of yourself to the work of healing: of healing yourself and your future patients. So, ask yourself why you want to commit yourself to healing, to Five Element acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. What brought you to this path, and why now? Knowing the answers to those questions is the only preparation you need to do for the interview. In fact, it’s the most important preparation you can do for the entire program. The clearer those answers are, the deeper your experience will be.
And for all of our current Five Element students out there, in the midst of pulse-taking, lectures, and observation hours, the same advice goes out to you. When you’re tired and bogged down in the details of study, remember why you started this journey. Go back and read your admissions essay, because the answers should be there.
Have a very happy holiday/winter break! I look forward to seeing everyone back in January.
The last several weeks have been an extremely busy time for the students and staff here at AFEA. Having two clinic classes in session, one class at the end of their year and the other just beginning theirs, means that there is something going on almost every given day. The student lounge is full at lunch time, with the smells and the laughter drifting up the back staircase into my office. Both classes are tired, but they’re still laughing. It will feel eerily quiet next week when they’re gone for Thanksgiving break.
I’ve noticed lately how easy it is to lose track of the big picture when school/work/life gets busy. We spent some time talking about this at a recent staff retreat: how the “why” of what we’re doing fades a little and the edges of the picture get pushed far away from our vision. We tend to focus more on the minutiae that’s immediately in front of us. So, I’m using Thanksgiving as my convenient excuse for refocusing on what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.
In the midst of the weekly routine of acupuncture treatments, clinic seminar, and Chinese herbs, Class 26 took their Third Year point location exam. The Third Year point location exam is harder (of course). They’re in the last stage of their residency. They’re using more advanced treatment planning ideas and they know more than they ever have. But the exam is notable for more than just its increased level of difficulty: it’s the last point location exam they’ll ever take at the Academy. I make it point at the beginning of the day to remind all of the students of this. The last exam. After almost three years, this is it. They’re really almost done with acupuncture school.
While Class 26 marked their exams, Class 27 saw new patients. Internship Prep is over. They are now in the thick of the clinical swirl, balancing treatments and assists with clinic committee work. And after Thanksgiving break they take their Herbal Studies Pre-Clinical exam. In just a few more weeks, they will take over dispensary duty from Class 26. They’re in it. Full-fledged interns.
So, the question is, what does this mean for our students? Yes, every day is one step closer to graduation and to their acupuncture licenses. But neither graduation nor a license is the final goal. Treating patients is; bringing healing through the depth, heart and spirit of the Five Element tradition is (see the official mission and vision statement at acupuncturist.edu). And each week they are doing just that. Seen in this light, they’re already doing what they set out to do. Clinical year is hectic and students sometimes have to put their heads down and just go, using the pathmarks along the way (exams, evaluations, weekend classes) to measure the passage of time. But what is so important to remember is that while they are reaching towards their goal, they’re actually already in the midst of it.
As part of the academic administration, my daily responsibilities allow me to view the entire trajectory of our students’ paths. I sometimes get lost in the details of tracking where a student currently is. But following the clinical interns reminds me on a regular basis that they are in the middle of great healing work. As a clinic patient, I experience their transformation first-hand as they help me to transform. Their patients’ progress is a mirror of their own accomplishments. One that I am reminding them of right now, to hold out and look at; to remember the goal, the bigger picture of bringing healing to the world. You’re already doing it.
And so, I am wishing our interns a very restful Thanksgiving break. I know some of you will continue to study, but I hope that these few days off give you the opportunity to remember where you are right now and to see the present moment as a result of all of the hard work that you have done and all of the hard work that you will do. You’ve already arrived. Enjoy it.