*This post was inspired by the quote: “He who is best prepared can best serve his moment of inspiration.” ― Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Hi there! My guess is you’ve stumbled across this post because you’re either thinking about going to cosmetology school. Well, first and foremost, make sure this is a decision you REALLY want to make. While the beauty industry is worth approximately $450 billion, that doesn’t mean you’ll be rolling in dough as soon as you graduate. Nonetheless, like any endeavor you pursue in life, do it because it’s your passion, not just for the money. Let me share with you the 10 things to consider when you’re looking for a cosmetology school.
The Need to Know!
Cost and Aid
Above all, COST was the first and biggest concern for me. In the US, the average cost for cosmetology school is around $15,000. Be sure to double check what type of payment options a school has to offer. Some schools will divide your payments up over the length of your program and require an initial down payment. Do you qualify for financial aid? See if the school is able to use FAFSA to help offset the cost of tuition. Just remember you will have to pay back any loans (including interest) after you graduate and find employment. All in all, make sure you are getting the most bang for your buck!
Have you heard the horror stories of students getting played by schools? They are told their school wasn’t accredited or recently lost after sacrificing money, time, and hard work. Without a doubt, the last thing you want to do is invest tens of thousands of dollars into an education from a school that does not meet the educational standards. Do your research on the reputation of your school? Are they accredited by the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences (NACCAS) or the Council of Occupational Education (COE) or any other agency recognized by the Department of Education? Do they have any affiliation with associations, brands, or companies? Attending a school with ties to notable companies will give you an advantage when it comes to building business and networking relationships.
So, you’ve found an accredited school. The next step is to make sure the students are able to absorb the material and go on to passing their state boards exam and practical. Testing statistics are a good indicator of whether or not the curriculum and teaching styles are setting students up for success. Taking a peek at attendance stats also give a pretty good hint of how many enrolled students are actually staying in the program.
Program Offered, Length and Curriculum
Not only does cosmetology involve hair but it also encompasses other focuses such as nails, skincare, and makeup. Schools may offer barbering, esthetics, a general cosmetology license and even makeup. So after deciding what you want to go for, make sure that particular program is offered at the school you want to attend. In 9-24 months you can complete a cosmetology program. There are many factors that determine how long you’re in school. Depending on the number of hours required by your state, if you go to school full time you can finish in as little as 9 months. If you decided to go part time it will take you longer.
Another thing to pay attention to what skills are being taught in your program of choice. If you are going to school to learn to care and style hair, are they teaching multiply cutting and coloring techniques? How does the school stay up to date with latest trends and techniques to keep your skills current? What about nails? If you want to attend cosmetology school to do nails, what all do they have to offer in regard to nail and acrylic techniques?
Hair skills aren’t the only thing your cosmetology school should be teaching you. You should be learning about the business side of the industry as well. Do you want to open up your own salon or work in someone else’s salon? Are you interested in renting a booth or a suite? While your school may not be able to provide you with the knowledge base equivalent to someone with a business degree, your school should offer the basics to help get you started.
While this may seem like such a simple topic, LOCATION MATTERS! I will keep it short here and say just remember where your cosmetology school of choice is located. You’re going to be traveling there almost every day and for a long period of time. A lot of students make the mistake of picking a school an hour or more away from home and end up dropping the program because of the travel and strain it puts on their lives. I am not saying it cant be done, but it is a bit mundane and should still be taken into consideration. You may have to change living arrangements, find a carpool or some other solution to accommodate the distance.
Opportunities that put you in front of brands and notable stylists are something that potential students don’t think about! Find a school that encourages you to get involved; a school that pushes you to do national competitions for students, like the North American Hair (NAHA) or Beacon. Some schools even bring guest artists from local salons or large platform artist that you can talk to and network with after they speak. These opportunities are another tool that will help put you a few steps ahead of others when you graduate.
Job Placement Assistance
Another importing factor is job placement. The cosmetology industry is highly competitive and you want to make sure your school is able to TRY to give some assistance with landing interviews with salons. Some schools will hold a “Salon open house” to put you in front of local salons and give the opportunity to pitch yourself to them. Sometimes if your school has a good relationship with a salon, and you are prepared you could get an interview or offered a job before you even graduate.
Tour the Facilities
…Because we all know seeing is believing. Go tour the school for yourself. Get a feel for the culture and atmosphere the school has. Talk to some students if they have a moment. Take a look at the tools and equipment the school has and see if you can sneak a peak of the kits they provide to their students.
Check yelp! Even though that’s where all the bad reviews are, it can still give you a sense of what the school has (or doesn’t). It can give you an idea of how the students and staffs act towards guests and also what services they can offer and are learning.