All entry level students are referred to as initiates. Initiates can hold no rank unless they partake in a special encounter after taking the competency test and scoring 100%. Then the initiate must take on four other initiates in 4 on 1 combat. Upon victory the initiate is given the rank of pawn.
All members of the academy undergo the initiate program which is traditionally 1st-3rd level. Initiates are not considered real students, and have no benefits that students have.
There is a 80% dropout rate for initiates. Because of the initial high drop out rate the school decided to institute the initiate program a couple hundred years ago. The theory behind the initiate program is that if you survive long enough to reach level 4, you are worth putting time and energy into.
Due to the nature of the initiate program, initiates will not be required to pay for anything. They will have to rely on their own wit, and the generosity of upperclassmen. Initiates are not allowed to speak to instructors unless first spoken to. Any delinquency caused by an initiate may result in immediate execution. There is nothing to fear for initiates as long as they have an open mind and are respectful to those around them.
Instructors may take a liking to potential prodigies and offer services before an initiate reaches 4th level, but this is rare.