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, www.acupuncturist.edu. We look forward to seeing you there!