Initiation, despite some overtones it has picked up does not imply that the community is a cult. Established communities and organisations use initiation ceremonies all the time, from university graduation days, to receiving a watch for your 21st birthday. There should be some official recognition of achievements not just for the community but for the individual. Public recognition of every grade is a sign of achievement and success.
There certainly should be a method of initiation into the community just to let people realise they are entering a new system, a moment they should remember, a time they should look back on.
Once such possibility is in the initial 6 months of entering the community to make a huge emphasis on the change the person is going through. Everyone enters equal that is certain they are given all the some basic clothing and items they are introduced to their teachers and staff. While there are many possibilities 2 things have a big reaction.
- Sudden environmental or external change greatly effects us
- Gradual unnoticed change suddenly noticed deeply effects us.
By moving into the the community we have already accomplished point 1 by radically changing the environment people are accustomed to. I have numerous opinions on how to achieve option 2 which are merely conjecture.
Firstly, each and every long term member candidate will shave their head on entry, it may seem extreme but if you want a generation of newcomers to identify and connect with each other creating a common unnatural situation works very well, it is in line with entering the community as equals and in 6 months you will have your hair back with its natural colour at a reasonable length.
Secondly, a lack of mirrors in the novice community would only aid in the effect of gradual unnoticed change. After 6 months of exercise, meditation, healthy eating and regular sleep only the healthiest of individuals would remain unchanged at the end.
After an optional shave the candidates would have access to a full body mirror of their new selves which should be a radical change from their initial point.
Levels of BMI, cardiovascular fitness and making people redo any tests they initially did would all hammer home how much they have changed physically.
For mental improvement show them their increase in levels in subjects in front of classes show the novice how far they have come in just 6 months welcome them to the community in a state of good health and positive thinking.
Each major step should be an exercise in showing the difference between now and where you were before.