There are many things I wish I knew before I went to beauty school, especially about how to pick a school, and what to look for. I went in for cosmetology which covers hair, skin, and nails. I in no way regret that decision but there are some things I wish I knew before I entered school, so here are, in my opinion, the good the bad and the ugly about beauty schools.
First ask yourself these key questions, I suggest even writing it down.
- Why do I want to be a beautician?
- Is it something I love?
- Do I honestly have the talent for it? And if you are unsure of your talent, will you be able to truly learn and master your skill over a couple of years? I ask this question because some people go to beauty school because they think it is their only option or that it is easy (I assure you it is not). Also if you are not truly dedicated to the craft and art of beauty you will never become great or even good at it. And to be honest I don’t want to have to repair a half assed hair job in a 10 hour correction because some person became a beautician because they thought it would be easy.
- Are you capable of being a part time therapist? I have seen some of my best clients turn into alcoholics. We professionals truly care about every single one of our clients and some clients have had truly tragic things happen to them in their life. It is not uncommon for a person to tell everything to their hairdresser. Most days will be good days filled with happy stories and laughter. However if you are a fragile soul this is something you need to think about.
- Are you prepared to do your hair and makeup everyday you leave the house? This may seem like a silly question but at the salon you need to look your best. Why would people trust someone to do their hair when their stylist can’t or won’t do their own? Or if you are out and about and someone compliments your hair you can always give them a card to build your clientele.
Now we are going to move to the subject of schooling. In the USA it is a legal requirement for you to go to beauty school before you can even do hair on others. Thus I will now be sharing my opinions on schools and schooling.
Let me start out by saying I went to an above par beauty school. It was run by a local family who owned a salon. I could see her (the head teacher and owner) work before I even went to school and my cousin also went to school under the same family (my cousin is a great stylist). I toured a few schools before this and decided on the smaller school. We had max 5 students at a time while I was in school, so my school was tiny.
Positives of a Smaller School
It was a very small school which was amazing from a learning perspective. The mother and daughter were our main teachers. For the first month or so we were in the back of their salon until the school was ready. So we got to see what it was like to work in a professional environment. Because we could see their work we knew we were being taught by talented professionals (the importance of this will be explained in negatives of bigger schools). There was another beauty school by my school that was not a part of a big chain but they had bad teachers. If you go to a small school, go to a school that is connected with a salon or ask to see some of the teachers work/ the company standards for hiring teachers. We then moved to the school which had more space which was much needed. We were able to go more in depth because there were less people to teach and more personal time with the teacher. Honestly I cannot stress the importance of this because most schools teach you are bare minimum. This makes it really hard when you move up to a salon because you will see and do more than you expected or saw in school. Now a positive and negative was that we got to have more clients to practice on but we were also a smaller school so we didn’t have as many people coming in. The school was private, small and nice. Going to a smaller school is usually more flexible, for example at Aveda if you missed more Saturdays than you were allowed, you would have to pay the school more money on top of the 20,000 you were already paying (this information is from 2016). At my small school we just had to give a few days heads up we could not be there and that was the end of it. We worked with a lot of different color lines, this was actually better I got to see how different product lines lift and deposit. This helped me when I went to salons with different color lines because I was more aware of what to expect.
I have met quite a few girls, all whom went to different schools and when I would talk about coloring clients hair, formulas, and steps, half the time they had no idea what I was talking about. In fact at the school I went to the owner had their new apprentice do some work at the school so she could see her work to ours; we knew more, did things faster, cleaner and more efficient than this other young woman. We actually ended up teaching her things because her school just didn’t teach her properly. This was not the young woman’s fault but it is definitely something to keep in mind when looking into school.
Negatives of a Small School
Like any school there were also some negatives. Our learning wasn’t as structured as big schools. Some days we would come but there would be nothing to do because we didn’t have any clients. It was like this in the beginning but as it turned to spring and we became more known this wasn’t as big of an issue. We also had to change our school timings a lot, for example we started doing 9-3, then is changed to 12-8, then we changed it to 10-6 or 11-7, so it was quite variable. Lastly is we were with each other literally all the time. This was great more often than bad because we all did get very close, but we also did sometimes get annoyed with each other. My school was also more expensive than the other schools (almost 25k) and they were not FAFSA approved. This means my parents had to pay full price and it didn’t show up in our taxes. So my parents had to pay more taxes, because the government thinks you make X amount when they actually made Y=X-25k. So they were taxed for X amount not Y. Taxes are complicated and different in every state so please research for your own knowledge My old school is now FAFSA approved, so always check with the school if they have been approved, and if not when will they be.
My School was very small and new so we experienced growing pains. Therefore my experience in a Beauty School was profoundly different than most.
Tara and I on Halloween at School, cute I know!
Positives of Well Known Schools
The nice thing about going to a bigger or well known school is that information is readily available on them. You get to meet and make more friends. Because the school is more known you should be able to get more clientele so therefore less down time. A great thing about going to big schools is it is has a set learning schedule. It is more regulated and consistent if you need to change schools or take a break and come back, it’s easier to transfer or figure when you can come back. Bigger schools are also (usually) FAFSA approved so you can get cheaper education if needed. They can be cheaper with FAFSA but this is not a guarantee. They are easier to find information on and they usually have better access to online portals for learning.
Negatives of Well Known Schools
If you go to a big school you will not get the individual attention that you need, deserve, and paid for. When I went to Paul Mitchell it seemed like a nice school but it had huge class sizes of 40 students to a couple of teachers. I have friends who went to Aveda Institute and they had the exact same problem. Also with so many girls, it often becomes clicky. You work with one color line (usually the same brand as the school), and they make their own product line seem like a God send. I understand that this is to sell the brand and keep the name successful but students need to remember that there are other products out there and they will have to research and be in charge of their learning experience. Big schools will only teach you what they are legally required to for you to pass the state board exam. It is up to the individual teachers if you learn anything extra. There are standards to become a beauty teacher but just because you have the experience on paper and on a model or two (during the interview they have to show their talent on a model) does not mean they are going to be a good teacher. Some teacher will be amazing however there are some teachers that go into teaching beauty schools because they couldn’t fully succeed in a salon environment with clients. I said earlier that we could see our teachers work so we knew, they knew what they were doing, however when you go to a big school you don’t know this. You are given the teachers that work there and hope for the best. Each school and state does have different standards for teachers, the higher the standards the better the teachers. There is also a very high teacher turnover rate in bigger schools. I have looked up why and most reasons point to greedy and bad management.
A friends hair I did as a student using Scruples Hypnotic line
What to Note when looking at Schools
When you tour schools make sure you request to speak to some teachers and students. Not in a group setting but in a one on one setting (without the school tour guide) to truly get the feel of the school. Request to know the teacher turnover rate along with how many people stay in that school vs leaving to another school. You don’t want to constantly have teachers and students coming and going. Look up online reviews on that specific school you are going to, about the education, management and job placement after finishing school. Look up client reviews of the school on Google maps or yelp so you can understand the quality of work of the students. Get a multiple students Instagrams so you can see their work as well. Beauty school is not cheap and it is not a easy decision. Its best to have as much information as possible to make your decision.
I am assuming you are loyal to your hairdresser so get her opinion on her school (if it is still around, my hairdressers school was not). Have her ask other girls in the salon about the schools they went to and any they know about. This decision is as big as college, sometimes you can transfer schools sometimes only certain credit will transfer, and sometimes nothing will transfer to a different beauty school. You need to make the right decision the first time so you don’t end up wasting time or money. If it takes you a little more time to find the right school, then do it!
Before you go to beauty school you need to do a lot of research. My mom and I went in blind when we were looking for schools so I hoped this helped you. If you have any questions please comment down below and I will answer you to the best of my knowledge. Every school is different and I am not going to even pretend to know everything about every school. You will have a different experience than me and anyone else so really make this decision carefully and intelligently.