Though there are many uniquely different beauty schools, generally Beauty Schools come in three major categories. These categories serve a primarily different function and serve the needs of different groups of students. It is important, though not usually done, for the Admissions Representatives to assess and determine the student's goals. Students in beauty schools attend for different reasons.
State Licensed Oriented
Many beauty schools have one primary program called Cosmetology, so applicants are chanelled into the same program. These schools are frequently focused mainly on having students earning enough hours and education to qualify for the state-Licensing exam. To determine if a school is State License oriented, it may have many of the following characteristics. These schools will define their program length in clock hours (Pennsylvania's is 1250). They have frequent class start dates as often as once month. There is little or no choice of programming, and the choice is usually called "Cosmetology". Students can arrange their school schedule to meet their individual needs. The mission of State License oriented schools is demonstrated by the use of the term "Basics" to describe the course. These schools do a great job when the goal of the student is to attain a State License in the shortest, easiest, and cheapest way possible.
Job Skill Oriented
Another major category of beauty schools is one that has a different focus than the State Licensed oriented school. The goal of some students is to get the job skills they need to succeed in the professional field of their choice. These schools have versatility in a student's choice of programming. Students in the Job Skill oriented schools benefit greatly by their ability to choose and specialize in the programs of their choice. Students can choose from various professional skills, like Electrologist, Nail Technician, Hairdresser or Esthetician, which is a specialist in skin care and cosmetics. A Job Skill orientated school will not identify the curriculum as Cosmetology. They can allow students to pick from any one or any combination of job skills that will benefit them as a profitable professional. These schools will usually have a much more rigid schedule of programming demonstrated in their class outlines and schedules. The programs are monitored by the administration to insure that the student is participating in a process that will result in a high level of job skills. Students cannot make up an attendance schedule to meet their individual needs and must attend when the courses are being taught. The big option is usually either full time days or part time evenings. Job Skill oriented schools do not start monthly and will only begin a new class after the current class graduates. Many Job Skill oriented schools only have three hairdressing starts per year. A Job Skill school may only have four starts per year for their Esthetics, Nail Technician, and Electrologist curricula.
At the top of the Beauty School educational ladder is a Job Skill School that is Associate Degree Granting. This is a highly innovative approach more closely resembling a college than a traditional Beauty School. The Department of Education in the State of Pennsylvania has three different types of Associate Degrees. The one that applies to Beauty Schools is the Associate of Specialized Technology in the Program Area of Cosmetology (AST). This award may be earned by the completion of the extensive job skill curricula taught in schools of this caliber.
A final detail that is important to gauge is the location of the school. Students attending schools located in urban areas will experience different environments from those in the suburbs, especially evident in the commute to and from school. Some students may need the feel of the inner city. Others may be more comfortable attending where they do not have to pay for parking and are ensured safety with low area crime rates.
In conclusion, I would suggest that potential students do some heavy duty shopping to ensure that they choose a school which will serve their needs. All beauty schools are not created equally. Each one has the choice of establishing their focus and approach to teaching. Students should know whether they will be best served by attending a school that is State Licensed oriented, Job Skill oriented, and/or Degree Granting for the high achiever.
Written by Stephen A. Wallin, President C.O.O. of the Bucks County School of Beauty Culture Inc.