If you’re scoping out potential colleges for your holistic health education, you know how tricky it can be to find answers to your most burning questions: How will I pay for school? Can I transfer credits from my previous school? Is accreditation important?
No matter where you are in your search, there’s no need to get overwhelmed, because we’re here to help! The American College of Healthcare Sciences (ACHS) admissions team and I are experts at fielding tough questions like these, so we put together a list of 11 frequently asked questions about online education at ACHS:
1. How long does it take to complete an ACHS online program?
The length of time to complete an online program in holistic health depends on how many classes you take each semester. We offer three semesters a year, starting in January, May, and September. We also offer select 101-level courses in 8-week sessions every March, July, and October. The number of courses a student can take each semester is based on the program and space availability as well as the time you can commit to your studies and your budget for tuition. You can accelerate your program by studying full time (12 credits for undergraduate students and 9 credits for graduate students per semester).Your admissions advisor will be happy to discuss all of these details with you further as we work with you throughout the admissions process.
2. Does ACHS offer Financial Aid?
At ACHS, we are committed to helping students earn their certificates, diplomas, associate’s and master’s degrees without amassing a burden of debt. As an accredited institution, ACHS offers many funding options including federal financial aid to those who qualify, direct payment options such as monthly payment installment plans, and a wide range of military, employer, and other alternative funding options. You can read more details about funding options on the ACHS website here: Financial Aid at ACHS
3. How are the online classes set up? Am I required to be online at a specific time?
One of the greatest perks of online education: you come to class on your own time! You are never required to be in your online classroom at a specific time. We understand that everyone’s schedule is different, so you log in when it’s convenient for you to study. We do have attendance requirements for participation and due dates for assignments. Students must participate weekly in the online classroom, but do have access to the classroom 24/7. We also know that students are most successful when there are deadlines for assignments. These help keep students on track and also facilitate engaging discussion with fellow classmates and the instructor, much like you would experience in a traditional classroom but with added convenience and flexibility!
Students in online programs at ACHS also need to meet the due dates for assignments and exams, and can submit these at any time up to the due date. Each time you log in, you will find your assignment due dates and instructions on what to work on from your instructor. So, don’t worry! With ACHS, you’ll never have to plan your life around logging in!
4. Can I transfer credits from a previous school to ACHS?
We encourage students to maximize any previous credits earned and are happy to review transcripts. Keep in mind that transfer of credit is always at the discretion of the receiving institution and depends on things like comparability of your previous courses. You will need to submit a transfer of credit evaluation form along with a copy of your transcripts and course information. If credit isn’t transferable for some reason, ACHS also offers undergraduate students the opportunity to earn credit by exam. Your admissions advisor can tell you more about these options.
5. What are the regulations for practicing holistic health in my state?
Each state has its own regulations surrounding what you can and cannot do as a holistic health professional. In the U.S., it is often the Secretary of State Office in each state that regulates the requirements to establish a business, register a business name, and provide valuable start-up guidance. We encourage you to contact your local state offices for further information on what is required in your home state.
Our President and Founder Dorene Petersen also wrote an extremely informative article on Health Freedom and state legislation surrounding the practice of aromatherapy in the U.S., which you can find here: The Aroma of Choice: Health Freedom and Aromatherapy.
6. How can online classrooms offer “hands-on” learning?
ACHS courses have been designed with providing a highly experiential education in mind. In addition to the rich interactive content in your online classroom, including lectures, online textbooks, access to relevant articles and research papers, instructor message updates, archived College news, and links to relevant websites and events—you also receive a comprehensive array of educational materials as part of your course pack. Depending on the course, this may include study kits of botanicals, essential oils, and other practical lab supplies. You will use your practical lab supplies to get real-world, hands-on experience using everything from herbs and essential oils to homeopathic remedies and learning to sprout, depending on your course. In professional programs, you’ll also learn how to do case studies and put your knowledge to work.
7. Why can’t I use my own essential oils/herbs?
Each course requires a course pack that includes the materials you will be using throughout your course. It is important that all students use the same supplies for their ACHS courses so that the instructor can accurately assess the student's lab results. In addition, ACHS courses train students to critically evaluate the quality of botanicals and essential oils so they have these skills in their profession. Many conventional essential oils and herbs contain different constituents from those used for clinical use. ACHS herbs and essential oils are labeled with the batch number for tracking the batch of product and are suitable for clinical use. The Apothecary Shoppe College Store that provides these materials to students is also an Oregon Tilth Certified Organic facility and stands behind the quality and integrity of each of our products.
In addition to quality, students learn the importance of other considerations in quality assessment including environmental concerns in production and ethical work standards at production facilities.
8. How much does an online holistic health program with ACHS cost?
ACHS programs are designed to provide excellence in education and student services. Quality education is an investment in your future and all of our services are designed to provide you with the best education for your education dollar. We want to be sure that our students have planned financially when applying to holistic health school.
Program costs vary based on program level, accepted transfer of credit, and other options you might choose as a student such as using our Green Option for ACHS Textbooks and buying used books. As an accredited institution, ACHS offers many funding options including federal financial aid to those who qualify, semester payments and monthly payment installment plans, military and employer tuition assistance benefits, and a wide range of other alternative funding options.
You can find full details on the cost breakdown and funding options on our website here: ACHS Tuition and Funding
9. Do you help with job search for graduates?
ACHS students are nationwide and in nearly 80 countries worldwide. We don’t provide specific job placement, however, we do provide many resources to set up our students and graduates for success that you can find here: ACHS Alumni Networking
10. What professional organizations will I qualify for as a graduate?
ACHS is continually working to establish and expand educational standards and industry support for our Students and Graduates by maintaining and fostering strong ties to the holistic health community. ACHS also partners with several organizations to make industry-recognized credentials available to graduates.
We encourage all of our students to volunteer and get involved with industry organizations as much as possible.
There are many holistic health organizations that prospective students should be aware of:
Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA): International organization of professional, clinical aromatherapists with a mission of advancing aromatherapy education and practice.
Aromatherapy Registration Council (ARC): Provides a public register of Aromatherapists — as an ACHS aromatherapy graduate, you are eligible to sit for this exam and achieve Registered Aromatherapist (RA) status.
American Botanical Council (ABC): A nonprofit research and education organization dedicated to education about herbs and herbal medicine. You can submit articles to their research journal, HerbalGram.
American Herbalist Guild (AHG): A non-profit educational organization that represents herbalists specializing in the medicinal use of plants. ACHS is a proud Silver Leaf Sponsor of their 2014 25th Anniversary Symposium. Plus, AHG members receive 10% off tuition.
American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA): Promotes the education of nurses and the public in all areas of holistic health and healing.
National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA): Devoted to the holistic integration and education of aromatherapy. You can write for the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal and attend their annual conferences. ACHS is a proud Gold Leaf Sponsor of the Beyond Aromatics Conference from September 12-15, 2014. I’ll be there with other ACHS team members, and we’d love to see you!
National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP): Cultivates education and collaboration surrounding holistic nutrition. Eligible graduates who have successfully completed studies in holistic nutrition from an NANP approved program (e.g. ACHS’s programs in Holistic Nutrition!) can sit for the Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board (HNCB) exam. Click here to review the requirements and instructions for how you can apply to sit for the examination. If we missed you at the 2014 Annual Conference, we’d love to see you at the next one!
For more details on what opportunities and organizations are connected with ACHS, visit us online at: ACHS Memberships and Industry Recognition
11. What is accreditation and why is it important?
ACHS has been accredited by the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education Training Council (DETC) since June 2003. DETC is listed by the U.S. Department of Education as a nationally recognized accrediting agency and a recognized member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
Accreditation is extremely important when researching a potential online school (or any school, for that matter!). Our Chief Institutional Officer, Erika Yigzaw, wrote an excellent blog post on the importance of accreditation and the horrors of what can happen when you attend an unaccredited school: Holistic Health Education Accreditation: How to Avoid Jumping from the Frying Pan into the Fire.
The following link will also provide more details on our accreditation and other information: ACHS Accreditation
I hope this FAQ has helped you decipher some of the tougher questions you’ve encountered in your search for the right holistic health program for you. As always, the admissions team and I are happy to answer any of your questions and discuss your educational goals.
What questions do you have about enrolling in a holistic health program? Ask me in the comments!