Pay special attention to where the school is located. You are going to be spending the next 3-5 years of your life at one of these schools, so you might as well like (and be able to afford living in) the area.
Although location is important for your overall experience other important factors you need to consider are:
1. Where do you want to practice after graduating? What are the specific state licensing or certification requirements?
2. What is the total cost of the program? Are student loans available? What are your options if you choose to go part time?
3. What is the cost of living in the area?
4. Does the acupuncture college have an herbal medicine program? How extensive?
5. Is the program "experiential"? Is there an emphasis on students cultivating their own Qi with expert instruction in such traditional methods as Qigong or Tai Chi? Do students get needled as part of the curriculum?
6. Is the core faculty accomplished both academically and clinically?
7. Does the school invite distinguished guest lecturers and provide seminars for continuing education?
8. Is there a comprehensive program to learn traditional techniques other than acupuncture such as, gwa sha, moxibustion, cupping, acupressure, shiatsu, tuina, jin shin do, Qigong healing, or Chinese dietary therapy?
9. Does the school have a professional acupuncture clinic with a full schedule of patients where you can do your internship?
10. Are clinical internships available with local private practitioners? Or abroad, in China?
11. Are there opportunities to learn and do acupuncture research?
12. Are there classes in western pathology and pharmacology?
13. Are you expected to write a Master's Thesis?
14. Is the school's record for students passing the national NCCAOM Examination 90% or better?
15. Are there classes in acupuncture practice management, marketing, HIPPA guidelines, self-employment strategies, and small business education?
16. Does the school foster community education and volunteering?
17. Does the school have an accredited program offering a doctorate in acupuncture and Oriental medicine (DAOM)?
18. Is it a reputable school? Ranked nationally? What do graduates & students have to say about the acupuncture training program? (Note: You will get some of your best information from graduates and students.)
Ultimately where you decide to go to acupuncture college will depend on your priorities. If you have an opportunity to talk to students or graduates of an acupuncture school you are considering, be sure to ask for their perspective.
I attended the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine (OCOM) from 1997-2000 receiving a Masters in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. It is an intense program that offers a 3-year full time track or a part-time track that can vary from 4 to 6 years. Regardless of which acupuncture college you are investigating, I encourage you to give OCOM a thorough look.