Originally, newly-Chosen trainees were assigned a mentor, a full-fledged Herald, to teach them everything they needed to know. Depending on the Gifts of the trainees, and any special teaching needs that went with them, a Herald might have more than one trainee at any given time. Formal classwork in subjects such as history, were conducted at the existing Bardic Collegium, with the Bards and their students as the primary focus.
This system did have the advantage of Heraldic-trainees getting individualized attention. Unfortunately, the disadvantages were more numerous. There was no guarantee that the "curriculum" would be taught consistently from one Herald and trainee to the next. (As evidenced by Herald Lores never having been taught Truth Spell.) The biggest disadvantages, however, came from putting inexperienced and ignorant trainees in the field, riding circuit with their mentors. At best, they frequently looked idiotic in front of Valdemar's citizenry, at worst it could be deadly for the trainees. Their fighting ability was likely to be sketchy and dumb mistakes could, and did, get them killed.
During the reign of King Kiril, trainees were being Chosen in such large numbers, that the mentoring system quickly became overwhelmed. There simply weren't enough Heralds to go around. Instead, the Heraldic Circle began the Heraldic Collegium system, most likely modeled on the existing Bardic system. Now trainees would remain at the Collegium on the Palace grounds, living in dormitories and taking standardized classes. Only at the end of this training period would they be sent out in the field with a mentor. Some Heralds resisted this idea at first, fearing that the trainees would get into mischief without closer supervision. However, the Companions Chose wisely, and their fears came to naught.
The Healers and Bardic Circles, as well as the Guard integrated into the system. By the reign of Queen Selenay, it is a smoothly working organization. The Heralds Collegium is the biggest because their building contains the classrooms. The Bardic and Healers Collegiums have neighboring dormitories, and their students share in many of the same classes, such as history, geography and courtly graces. There are also students who are unaffiliated with the three Collegia who attend classes there. Some of these are studying to be Artificers (architects and engineers), some are members of the Guard who need specialized training in an area, and others are the children of the nobility. Because of the color of their uniforms, these students are frequently referred to as the "Blues."
The students are easily identified by the color of their uniforms:
- Gray = Herald's Collegium
- Rust red = Bardic Collegium
- Pale green = Healer's Collegium
- Pale blue = Unaffiliated students
Each Collegium has its own Dean who oversees the students and the classes. While it could be argued that overseeing the joint curriculum leads to a bit more work for the Dean of the Herald's Collegium, Bardic and Unaffiliated students tend toward greater mischief, and the Healer's Collegium is attached to the House of Healing, which can lead to its own complications.
The instructors are all full members of their particular branch, which the occasional unaffiliated expert. Some of the class assignments, such as mathematics, are permanent teaching posts, while others may be on a rotating or as needed basis. In 'present day' Valdemar, geography is taught by a rotating roster of Heralds who each teach a section on their home regions. Gift training is taught as needed by whichever Herald both has the relevant Gift and is a good teacher.