ACHS Students Share Tips for Holistic Health Program Success

Feb 26, 2013 10:10:00 AM | ACHS Students Share Tips for Holistic Health Program Success

“I don't do anything special. I do make my studying a priority and I literally put it in my schedule. My life is quite busy and frenetic so schedulin

It takes a lot of dedication and commitment to be successful college student, and while studying online has its advantages, it takes perhaps a pinch more perseverence to stay committed and keep all your balls in the air when you're an adult student juggling work, family, volunteer work, and self care, among other things. 

Our student services team recently reached out to some of our most successful students in the Winter semester and asked them to share their tips for success with others. I'm delighted to share a selection of these with you all below. 

"Thank you for your kind words. I don't know if I have any special tips, though I do try to plan time for studying and project-work every day or so.  With a stressful full-time job, I want to make sure that I don't compromise my yoga classes or a reasonable amount of social activities, in order to avoid getting burned out.  I number the learning outcomes for each module, write that number on a sticky flag and stick it on the page(s) of the text that contains information about that outcome.  I personally prefer having the hard copy of the textbook as opposed to the electronic version, though that may change if I ever get a tablet of some kind.  I also hand-write all my organoleptic testing results in a special journal that I will also use to enter any personal blends that I create.  I guess I'm a little old-school!  It seems to sink in a little better when I hand write things like that. Again, thank you for your personal note about my progess, it is very encouraging! 



“It is true what you mentioned in your email, it is challenging to balance everything in life. I am sure there is people doing better than me, the only thing that has helped me is to have a lot of time to read over and over the lessons and books. I also take notes of everything that I read. Thank you so much for doing a wonderful job at the school. Certainly I will miss the school once I finish my certificate. 

Ivonne C."

describe the image 

“It means a lot to me that my work is noticed and that everyone at this college wants me to succeed!! I make myself a pot of tea and shut my bedroom door and don't come out until I've completed what I wanted to :-)

Shandell B."


“I don't do anything special.  I do make my studying a priority and I literally put it in my schedule.  My life is quite busy and frenetic so scheduling everything allows me to visually see what is going on from day to day and work around everything and everyone. I allot myself about 1-1/2 per day.......sometimes 2 if the "Gods" are smiling on me that day.  I carry my reading material with me so if there are a spare few minutes, I can take advantage. 

That is pretty much it for me.  If anything I say helps anyone, then I am thrilled! 

Susanne C."

“I am proud of my consistent good grades since I began studying with ACHS (March 2010). I study daily rather than setting aside only 3 or 4 days to study. Passion and interest always makes learning a rewarding experience. I find that reading the online lectures and other required material daily is more helpful. Every semester my focus of priority is always my studies and I also find it very helpful to concentrate on only one course each semester. Blessed Be!

Camilla B."

“I am very fortunate that I do not have to work outside of the home, but we have a very active family that takes a good deal of organization to keep on track. Here is how I approach my studies:

I read through the requirements for each module so I know what is expected overall and estimate how much time I might need for the projects, essays, etc.

I write everything on the calendar that I need to do, even going to the grocery store, running errands, etc.

I look at my calendar every night before I go to bed so that I know what family-related things I have to take care of the next day and how much time that leaves me to study and rearrange things if I need to. People in my circles know I am going to school and are respectful of my time. 

When I sit down to study, I try not to allow anything to distract me like the phone, email, Facebook.

I use whatever time I can to read the textbooks, i.e. while waiting for my kids after school, sitting in the doctors office, etc.

I use the study guides and self-tests to help make what I have read concrete. I find it really helps when I sit down to take the Exam.

Mostly, I LOVE what I am studying and that makes it fun! My house may not be spotless, but I am learning new information everyday that helps me take better care of my family, friends and hopefully others in my community.

Have a great day!



“Any project I take on I expect my best.  To do well in class, especially on subjects or modules that may intimidate me, I read the chapter once and grasp whatever material I can.  On my second reading of the material, I take down notes on my computer.  On my third reading (yes, three readings), anything I do not comprehend I look for an easier way to understand.  Some of my methods are searching online and hearing how others interpret the material.  When I really cannot grasp a concept, I ask my friends and customers (I own a very popular, local coffeehouse) who are in the field of natural health.  I have asked my friend, Dr. Karen (chiropractor) to explain in common terms some concepts.  On my next module I actually quote her response to a question.

I am fortunate enough to have time to devote to my studies.  When I do go to work to cover shifts I bring my books with me.  I have to say I do dedicate a lot of time to reading and learning the material and I use the online resources (questions and answers), I answer the questions at the end of the chapters...and review the chapter summaries.

Also, I read most of my classmates responses to absorb information.  That works very well for me.

Another method I use is association, such as adenine pairs with thymine while cystine pairs with quanine.  To remember the pairs I associate that adenine and thymine are at opposite ends of the alphabet (a-t)...and cystine and quanine are in the middle of the alphabet.  Or when learning about conditions (high blood pressure, fatty liver etc) I associate people I know with the condition and learn from that. 

And lastly, I ask lots of questions.  If I don't understand something I ask the instructor and class.  The fact that I love absorbing information and gaining this knowledge is a huge plus in my progress.! 

Thank you for asking...


 Free eBook: Holiday Gifts

“My study tips are pretty simple. During the semester I only read class related material and leave the novels for later. I also stand at my kitchen island while I read so I don't double my sitting time that I need to be in front of the computer. It keeps my blood flow up and my mind more alert. My last trick is to use my smart phone to record myself saying what I am studying about and play it back on car rides. That really helps with recall.

I hope that helps. 




“I believe that success comes from setting the priorities and investing efforts into the hard work. Of course, being in school is challenging for all of us. I am a mother of four and life keeps me busy with work and family. But I set my goals and, no matter what, I must achieve them. What is even more important is that I ENJOY my studying with all my heart, with all my passion about health and nutrition. To succeed in something, whether it is school or work, you must enjoy what you do and be passionate about it .

Thank you!

Victoria B.”


“I guess for me, my best success with studying is to write it I read through the etext books, if something doesn't 'feel' like it is staying in my brain, I repeat it in writing, up to 3 times.....I also take lots of notes, as writing seems to help me hold onto information!



“I think the main thing I would like to say is that no matter what is going on in my life I make school a priority. I have sacrificed in the past many social events for school. I hope this helps!!

Fleur. :)”


“I use all the resources that are offered: 

  • The nutrition nuggets
  • I play the animations and listen to them over and over while I am doing other things
  • I go over the chapter summary as I read the chapter and take notes
  • Writing and drawing pictures if needed
  • I use the Pearson textbook companion resources online and even took the practice quizzes this week (very helpful, don't have to worry about making mistakes and learn things I missed when reading)

Of course researching for the essay is helpful and reading as many essay posts as I can, so I can learn about the topic I did not choose. 

I talk to my friends, family and clients about what I am learning, and try to make it applicable to my life (and of course being older and having lots of life experience helps). 

I can't even eat my meal without thinking about what is happening to it as it goes down into my digestive system. The practicals and the chemistry are a bit above my head yet but I am getting exposure. 

I think sometimes I am in information overload and have to shut down for a while.

Helen Delfakis has been very encouraging, despite the fact that I have not written a paper with citations for 34 years (and that was in art school), 

Repetition, until it becomes familiar and I love the subject matter.

Most of all it is #1 priority next to my job- gotta work to eat... and digest. 

Kathy E.”


“I organize my week and set aside some time each day for reading. Then I set aside one full day for my projects. By reading each day I am able to study slowly so that I can remember what I've learned. I also try to use an herb or oil I've learned about. By working with my hands I am able to really understand the material.


Aroma Course Materials

Image: An example of student study materials here at ACHS. Each course has required kits for practicals: Yes, you get to "play" while you learn!


“I realized recently,  I am a professional student. I've been studying for many years (15) so the rhythm of semesters, tests, and deadlines is an integral part of my life. I'm really looking forward to putting the years of studies into the practical day to day holistic care for people and their pets.

Here is a bullet list of some of the things I do to stay on track:

1.  The first day of classes I look at all the materials: Syllabus, calendar with module deadlines, announcements, document sharing offerings, and modules. I print the module objectives and reading assignments, discussion offerings, and what will be studied in each module. If there is a midterm or end-of-term paper, I begin research as quickly as possible. All these materials are placed into an organized three-ring binder.

2. Meet the deadlines; even if this means you have not completely assimilated the materials. You can review before finals and play with the herbs, essential oils, nutrition as desired and time permits.

3. Participating in the discussions, even if you don't have your posting prepared helps you keep up with classmates and their wonderful creativity. The  instructor posts also give direction and more ideas on areas to study and explore.

4. Balance. I have learned a life-time of healthy practices through the coursework of the ACHS program; nutrition, body care, rest, and stimulation of body, mind, and soul.

Unfortunately I am often late to post my discussion papers, but do try to follow everyone's posts and comments, including the instructor's input. Distractions are always a problem and leave me scrambling to complete tasks on time: Distractions include sunny days, gardening, rainy days, dancing with the husband, and caring for the furry ones in my home. Nevertheless, I am determined to learn the material in every way possible. I take advantage of the video links, flicker, and the shared documents. I noodle around with Google researching commercial businesses, trade organizations, books, and blog. I so want to learn and put into practice in my life this exciting area of health care. Hopefully, I can share the wisdom learned through ACHS with others.

Best regards,


“I get right into school first thing in the morning and try to keep focused on it until I am finished. I like to work on one class at a time, complete it, and then move on to the next one. I am taking 4 classes. I also make sure it is quiet and free of distractions, and I'm not hungry lol.

Stephanie W.”


“I thought I would share my process for working through the modules.

1.  I read the module beginning right after the previous one is finished.

2.  I work on the discussion assignment.

3.  I read the module again and take notes on anything that I don't already know, and that seems like significant information.

4.  I submit my discussion assignment.

5.  I review my notes a several times on different days before taking the test.

Seems to work for me.  I am learning a lot and enjoying the class.  The class is also a good motivator for me to get outside into my garden, and to be making teas and tinctures and other herbal products for me and my family.

Thank you,

Marilyn M.”


“My tip is to always seize the moment.  I print out my work module by module and take the current module's work with me whenever I leave the house.  It is amazing how much I can get done in 5 minutes here and 5 minutes there.  I am always waiting for someone or something and this gives me the chance to make the most of my time.  



“I have made sure that everything I do outside of school supports what I'm learning.  For example,  I started a natural housecleaning business after taking aromatherapy 101 because I found out essential oils could clean.  Then, I took a night job at our local health food store so I could learn to apply what I was learning in class.  As I learn outside of school, and put it all together in class, then I take what I learn in class and educate customers who come into the health food store where I work.  I also take what I learn in class and speak around town on natural cleaning or vitamins or essential oils etc, on occasion.  On facebook, I post lots of health articles and there are people who allow me to use them as case studies (at no charge) so I can learn to take a profile and create a diet plan for them. 

Doing these things outside of class help me greatly to understand.

In addition, I also have some study habits.  I learned that certain music with certain beats help me to focus more when I am reading longer chapters.  That and doodling.  When I am doodling while reading, my brain stays focused.  

Whenever we have activity pages in class, I did the flash cards first even though I didnt know the answer yet.  Doing flash cards and activity pages before reading focused my mind on the highlights of what my brain needed to pick out when I did read. 

I also pace myself.  If there is a week to finish a module, I give myself the full week or longer if necessary before handing in my assignment.  This gives me time to process it, and look at my classmates work as well.  Sometimes the way my classmates word something clicks faster for me than the book might.

There are various other study tips but these are the most helpful to me.



PS: I forgot one of the most important study tips!  I often pray beforehand.  A lot of times we cant quiet our minds but prayer helps me.”


“My tips for studying is that I try to schedule it, just like a job.  That makes it easier to stay on track!

Melissa T.”


“Your words of encouragement are uplifting. Briefly, here are some of my tips for studying:

#1. Passion: For the profession of aromatherapy; thus, giving me the drive to be successful with my education as to offer to the public optimal therapy along with safety. It is this passion that gives you strength to make the necessary sacrifices.

#2. Goals: I set up long-term and short-term goals. I write them out in a journal, in my appointment book, and sometimes on my homework notes. I see my short-term goals as a step-by-step plan to reach the long-term goals. I check-in to see how I am doing, and if necessary, I adjust my goals. It is important to see a 'finish line' for both short-term and long-term.

#3 Giving back: In the holistic healthcare field, you are always hearing about giving back to your community; and I, for one, attempt to live this as a lifestyle.  As a student at ACHS, I perceive the opportunity to reach out to my fellow class students as a way of 'giving back'. I respect the hard work and contributions that each fellow student gives to the course, and I have learned many things from them.

#4 Journal: I have always been one to journal and to keep a written record of matters that are close to my heart. As time goes by, and I look back at what I have written in the past, I am amazed how events have played out in my life.

#5. Have fun!: So important for me to take time for myself and enjoy the day. Eating healthy, exercising, time spent with friends and family are all a part of keeping myself healthy. A refreshed and healthy mind will be crisp and clear when it comes to study time.

#7. Teachable spirit: I have learned in life how important it is to have a teachable spirit. No matter what I know and have experienced in life, there is more to go. By keeping an open mind, there is so much to learn, even from a student who is a beginner. Humility is a key to success.

#8. Time: It is important to me to set aside the daily time that I need to study my course. Without this, I would not make it.

#9. Study tips:

a) aromatherapy- of course! Peppermint is among my favorites for clearing the air, my mind and refreshing my focus tor studying.

b) break down lesson into bite-size pieces; accomplish lesson step-by-step

c) make flash cards and study sheets for a quick review for when ever you are on the go; I have even put some cards on my refrigerator to get the lesson down.

d) color-code different aspects of your notes: ex: color-code all things green that pertain to botany or botanical families of essential oils

e) learn what prefixes and suffixes mean as a quick way to spot what a term means; spot a pattern to the words also can help

f) engage senses: I use colored dry markers and a white board to write out my notes. As I am doing this, I speak 'out loud' what I am writing. As I write and  speak, I visually see the colors, I audibly hear the facts. This brings a wonderful reinforcement of the course material.

g) share the lesson: Sharing aspects of the knowledge learned with others, such as with family, friends, associates, and fellow students also reinforces the course material.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Linda T.”


“I have to admit this is my most challenging course that I've taken so far.  I really don't have any great secrets, just organization.  I look at when the next module is due and plan out my time.  I generally know how time I need for reading, working on projects and studying.  I make sure that time is set aside each day and I stick to it. There are times when it's gets tough to fit everything in, but when I do well on my projects and's all worth it.

Time is really flying by, May will be here before we know it.  I will watch for information on graduation and will contact the school then.

Thanks again for all you support....greatly appreciated!

Sandy P.”


“I am self-employed in holistic health and work from a small clinic in my home.  Consequently, I have plenty of time to read, watch supplemental videos, and study.  I schedule time specifically for my studies everyday, and I take all the time allotted for each unit, usually not turning in my work until the last day.  Some days my study time is limited to reading my fellow classmates posts, and I only respond on our discussion boards when I feel that I have something significant to contribute because I realize that not everyone needs to respond to everybody's posts with "good work" or "great job".  I try to take my studies seriously because what I am learning is directly applied to my work with clients who are trying to live healthier, more balanced lives.

Hope that helps.

Green Blessings,

Cheramy T.”


“Advice from a Tree:

Stand tall & proud.  Sink your roots into the Earth.  Be content with your natural beauty! Drink plenty of water. Enjoy the view!

--Ilan S.”


“I don't have any super secret study routines.  The ones I use most are:

1) Read the material over and over until it makes sense

2) Take notes, I have a monograph notebook that I can refer to and a recipe book that I write down all my recipes

3) Practice, Practice, Practice

4) Utilize the instructors, they are wonderful and will bend over backwards to help you succeed.

5) Make quiet time to study with incense, aromatherapy like rosemary, waterfall or soothing music.  The right environment and mindset help immensely.




“I have a tip and some suggestions. When I study I have to not just "read" but take notes as if I’m at a lecture and outline what I am reading , stop to draw pictures etc. I spend about 15-20 hours a week on homework just to understand And I take a break at least every hour , have a cup of tea or go on FB or even take the dogs for a walk. it refreshes the soul.

Denise L.”


“This is my first time with online classes so thank you! In regards to study tips for others, I have found a routine that’s working for me so far. At the beginning of each module, I take the first week to do all the required reading, highlighting important info. The second week i take time to review the reading and work on any projects. My goal is to finish any online tests/discussions a day or two before the due date, which gives me a few days to take a break before the next module.

I’m only a month in, but its working so far :)

Lauren P.”

[Note that some classes have a test every week, some have one every two weeks.]

 Free eBook: Holiday Gifts

Thanks so much to all the students who shared their tips and suggestions! We hope that these inspire and help you with your studies!

Dorene Petersen, ACHS Founding President

Written By: Dorene Petersen, ACHS Founding President

Dorene is the Founding President of the American College of Healthcare Sciences (ACHS). She has over 45 years of clinical teaching and lecturing experience in aromatherapy and other holistic health subjects. She has presented papers on essential oils and clinical aromatherapy at the International Federation of Essential Oils and Aroma Trades Annual Conference (IFEAT) in California, USA; the Aroma Environment Association of Japan (AEAJ) in Tokyo, Japan; the Asian Aroma Ingredients Congress (AAIC) and Expo in Bali, Indonesia; the International Center of Advanced Aromatherapy (ICAA) at the WonGwang Digital University in Seoul, Korea; as well as the AAIC Expo in Kunming, Yunnan, China. Dorene is a founding member of the Aromatherapy Registration Council (ARC) and served as its chair until 2023. Dorene is also involved in the distance education community and has served as a volunteer, committee member, and standards evaluator for the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). Dorene is a travel junkie, and has led ACHS Study Abroad programs to India, Indonesia, Greece, and Hawaii!