Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Choose the Beauty School That is Best For You

It wasn't enough just to make the decision to go to beauty school to get my esthetician license in the first place. I had to also make the decision as to which beauty school I would be going to. I decided to do my own homework and conduct research on all the beauty schools in my area I'd considered attending. Then, based on my research and personal experience with the schools on my list, I would choose the beauty school that would be the best fit my needs and wants.

Before I decided on which beauty school I would go to, I wanted to learn more information about the individual schools themselves. Here are some valuable things to consider before deciding which beauty school is best for you.

Industry Reputation

I wanted to know what the successful spas and salons in the area thought about each of the beauty schools that were on my consideration list. To gather this information, I wrote up a top ten spa and salon list and visited each one. Upon my arrival, I asked to speak to the spa director or manager. I quickly explained to the individual that I was trying to decide on which beauty school to and work towards getting my esthetician license. I wanted to seek their professional opinion on which of the beauty schools in the area they felt produced the best, most prepared students that they would likely hire upon graduation. I didn't mention the schools that I was considering at all. I didn't want to skew their answers in any way. I wanted their most honest answer.

Most of the individuals I spoke with told me that it doesn't really matter where a person goes to school. It's their previous work experience, attitude and personality that will get them hired. Most did agree that there was one or two prominent schools in the area that consistently produced desired candidates. It was reassuring to hear a real-life working professional's opinion.

The Client Experience

In addition to visiting all of the schools online and in-person, I also arranged to receive a service at all of the schools on my consideration list. I wanted to experience the school's services as a client. This also gave me a chance to chat with the student performing the service and ask questions about their specific experience, their esthetic program and what they had or hadn't gotten out of their program so far.

I made sure to take detailed notes on everything from my experience with the front desk to the products on the back bar and the treatment room set up. I found that once you were in the treatment room, students were more than happy to share their experiences with their program honestly. All of the students I spoke with loved answering all of my questions and gave me really helpful advice while giving me even more important things to think about before I made a decision.

State Board Passing Rate

It's important to pay close attention to a school's State Board Exam passing rate statistics. If a school has a passing rate of 95% or higher, that's pretty good. If a school has anything lower than a 90%, it's a definite red flag. It's important to learn proper massage techniques and to perfect your special touch, but if you aren't prepared to pass the State Board Exam, you wont get your license. Without your license, you can't work. What's the point of going to school if you can't work? Ideally, the school should prepare you for both working in the real world and for passing the State Board Exam.

Class Schedule

In my research, I noticed that each school offered its own version of a flexible school schedule. There were full-time and part-time options. There were options to go to school at night for those who worked during the day. There were also classes offered during the day for people who had to work at night.

I knew that I would have to continue working during my time spent at beauty school. I needed to make sure that I picked a program that would allow me to still work a majority of my shifts and allow me time to study while being able sleep in between going to work and going to class.

Be 100% honest with yourself. It's crucial that you pick a schedule you will be able to adhere to. In beauty school, attendance is mandatory. You have to show up to class on time, for 600 hours, in order to graduate. Don't set yourself up for failure before the first day of school.

Costs

Beauty school is not cheap, unless you opt to go the community college route. When deciding on which school to go to, you must consider your budget. Are you paying out of pocket? Is someone helping you pay for your tuition? Are you able to apply for financial aid? With beauty school, you really do get what you pay for. The school I wanted to go to was unfortunately the most expensive. I realized that with the higher tuition came many extra perks. I justified the higher tuition because the extra perks were not only desirable, but they would help put me at a much higher advantage after graduation. Just make sure that you are being realistic with yourself. If you sign up to take a loan, be prepared to start paying it back six months after graduation.

Even though I didn't have any money saved before I decided to go to school, I worked a few extra shifts prior to enrolling and was able to stash enough money away to cover the deposit. For the rest of my tuition, I had to depend on financial aid to pay my way. It's important to know your financial options when it comes to beauty school. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Without the financial aid option, I would have never been able to go to beauty school in the first place.

Location

My philosophy has always been if you're early, you're on time. If you're on time, you're late. Late is unacceptable and unprofessional. School is the time to create good, healthy habits. Get in the habit of always either being early or on time. Beauty school requires mandatory attendance, How else is the state suppose to issue you a license if you haven't fulfilled the 600 required hours?

When researching schools for my consideration list, I made sure to only include schools that were easily accessible by public transportation. When it comes to transportation, always have a back up plan. Sometimes public transportation or even your own car might not be reliable. There were many mornings when my bus was either late or just didn't show up at all. I either had an alternative bus route I could refer to or had a local taxi agency on speed dial. The closer you live to the school, the easier it is to get to school by public transportation or the more reliable parking is in the area, the more likely you are to show up to school everyday, on time.

Job Placement After Graduation

I choose a school that offered job placement services both during and after graduation. There was never a guarantee that I would ever receive a job after graduation. It's the whole idea of how you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. The school I attended led me to the water by providing me with a number of networking opportunities and resources throughout my entire program. It was up to me to take a drink by taking advantage of all of those opportunities.

Lucky for me, a professional opportunity presented itself to me during the last month of my program. I put my resume together and scheduled a time to meet with the Placement Leader at my school to review my resume and provide me with feedback. After I submitted my polished resume for the position, I continued to follow up with the recruiters until I landed myself a first and second interview. I have now been working at that very same position for the past ten months, less than a month after my graduation last year. In fact, the day I passed the State Board exam and received my esthetician license was the same day I found out that I had landed the job. Just last week, I was promoted to a management position within that same company. A very good school will give you ample tools to be successful. It's then up to you to put those tools to use.

The Itinerary

One of the important things on my list that would make the beauty school a perfect fit for me was being able to work on real clients. I wanted to make sure that I had time to learn theory in the classroom and plenty of time to practice my new techniques on real people. Many schools are set up so that students perform their newly acquired skills and techniques on each other. There is something to be said about touching a stranger's skin. I couldn't think of anything that would prepare me more for working in the real world than working on various different skin types with different skin conditions, under the time constraints of a real spa service.

I was lucky enough to volunteer to stay one night a week for night school, in addition to my full-time day program just so that I could take two extra clients a week. The extra time I received to work on clients really gave me the boost in confidence to master my own technique and touch while I was still in school. The more hands-on experience I received in school, the better prepared I felt for the real, working world.

Also, one of the extra benefits our school provided us with during our esthetic program was an additional 25 hours of training at a partnered, professional skin care training facility. This experience alone introduced me to the value of ongoing, higher education within the skin care and beauty industry.

Gut Feeling

After all of my research had been completed, all the notes I had taken on my experiences and questions had been compared, visiting all of the schools online and in-person individually and receiving professional opinions, I ended up making my final decision based on my gut feeling. I went with the school I knew that was the best fit for me. The only reason why I was able to make such an educated and well informed decision was because I took the time to do all of the homework and thorough research ahead of time.

7 comments:

  1. Love this article. Thanks for sharing it with the rest of us.

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  2. Replies
    1. Excellent article Kathleen - this has helped me immensely as I go to the two schools in my area.
      Thank you.

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  3. I think I'd ultimately like to become a cosmetology instructor. I've always been fascinated with make-up and I've been looking into a beauty academy in Torrington. Let's hope things work out!

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  4. I was wondering what your opinion is in how necessary to go to a school that is nationally accredited as opposed to one that only provides state certification. i'm thinking about going to a new Botanical & Medical Aesthetics school in Denver but it doesn't appear to be nationally accredited. thanks!

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    1. Hi Vanessa!

      I think the biggest difference between a school that is nationally accredited and one that isn't are the financial aid opportunities. If you plan on paying out of pocket for school, going to a non-accredited school might not be an issue. If you are looking to receive finical aid and want to see about qualifying for grants from the government to help pay for school, you'll want to look into accredited schools only. Hope this helps!

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  5. Greetings,
    I am from India and was wondering if u could help me i wanted to know about low cost beauty school
    Thanks in advance

    ReplyDelete