One of the conversations that I often have with prospective students goes something like this:

Student: “I’m a more mature student than you’re probably used to. I did my degree a long, long time ago in a field completely unrelated to science or acupuncture. This is really going to be a second (or third) career for me. In some ways it feels like a whole new life.”

Me: “That’s actually not that unusual. Most of our students are embarking on a second or third career. They didn’t know they could study acupuncture, or they didn’t know they wanted to until after they did their initial degree. You’ll actually fit in much better than you think.”

Student: “Really? So I won’t be the old student in the corner? “

Me: “Absolutely not. Besides, there’s really no place to hide in our classes. You’ll be surprised how everyone from different age groups and different walks of life come together . Your shared passion for Five Element Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is really what matters most .”

I would never downplay a student’s uniqueness. In fact, our students are some of the most unique individuals I have ever met, and each cohort is colored and shaped by their different backgrounds. But the fact of the matter is, age, whether you’re in your twenties or early fifties, will not separate you or make you different from the group. Your lack of western science or eastern philosophy courses will not hinder your application or your participation in class. And your previous work experience, whether it be finance, sales, or education, will not hamper your progress as a practitioner of Five Element Acupuncture. What makes an applicant or a student unique is their passion for this medicine and their desire to help others heal. The rest, in some ways, is simply demographic information.

That being said, your experience matters quite a bit. Your educational experience, job history, and the activities you have invested yourself in, contribute to who you are. They’ve helped to shape you and they have brought you to the point of researching acupuncture schools. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about what makes a good admissions essay, and how your story is important to tell. That story comes from the life you’ve led, and you would be surprised to learn how often backgrounds outside of health care and western science lead to acupuncture.

So let me help put you more at ease. You’re nervous enough about going back to school, so don’t let insecurities about age or past careers become an obstacle. Our students range in age from mid-twenties to early sixties (that’s right, I said early sixties). I am very inspired by those students embarking on a new career “late” in life. One student told me that she just couldn’t spend the rest of her life retired. There was still too much time left; there was still more to achieve, more to give; and she wasn’t going to surrender to old age.  Apparently, education and a new career are a great way to “retire.”

Did you just discover Chinese medicine and acupuncture? Or have you been secretly cultivating knowledge for the last decade (or two)? Our students come from both camps. They’ve worked in different health care fields, they are artists, businessmen and women, accountants, computer programmers, military officers, writers, teachers……The list goes on. My point is, your lack of previous medical or scientific coursework isn’t the obstacle you might think it is. Your lack of knowledge in acupuncture, yoga, herbs, qigong, etc,  is also not a huge hurdle. You are, after all, looking to go back to school. You are about to add centuries worth of knowledge to your life.

Our students are lifelong learners and they continue to invest in themselves and in others.  I’m going to resort to a platitude here, but it’s true, age is what you make of it. How you choose to expand your life sphere is up to you.  So, my point is, embrace what you’ve been and who you are. We’re going to.