If you're afraid every student at cosmetology school is like Frenchie in Grease, who "missed her midterms and flunked shampoo,” think again. Appointments at salon academies are actually an effective (and affordable) way to get your hair cut and colored. You shouldn't let the word “student” scare you—but there are a few things you should know before making an appointment. Wayne Woodruff, operations director for the North American Sassoon Academies, gave us the inside scoop and five tips for getting the most out of your student academy experience.
1: Plan to be there awhile. According to Woodruff, you should set aside 2–3 hours for a haircut and 3–5 hours for a color service. “Services are expertly guided by instructors, so the process takes longer than you might be used to,” he says. At Sassoon, there’s a ratio of one teacher for eight students, and the teacher works in a circle helping each student analyze and work on one panel or section of hair at a time. In other words: patience is required.
2: Remember, the students aren’t necessarily “new.” Woodruff notes that cosmetology students begin working on clients after 400 hours of coursework. And remember that licensed stylists can continue to take courses at an academy any time—so your technician may even be a salon owner!
3: You do get to weigh in on your style. You're not just a model. “It’s not a scenario where you come in and we’re doing specific haircuts that you must receive that day,” says Woodruff. “We absolutely listen to what the client wants. Part of the way that we teach is showing students how to really listen at the consultation and execute the shapes and techniques that the clients want." To start, there’s a three-way consultation with the client, the student, and the instructor. The student is then guided all the way through each process of the haircut or color.
4: Services are usually limited. Generally, schools offer haircuts, hair tints, and highlights. Extensions and blowout services typically aren't on the menu.
5: You'll save money! Let’s be frank: it’s the cost savings that make these appointments worthwhile. While most Sassoon salons charge $70 to $125 for a cut and $90 to $200 for color services, an appointment at the Academy is only $22 for a cut and $30 to $55 for color, depending on the service. These figures are pretty typical for any school, so if you want to save some pennies, take the chance! You'll be supporting whichever academy you attend, and who knows—you may get a 'do from a future salon star.
Photo: Courtney Bell / Flickr