I recently read this article on the New York Times about ex-beauty school students who weren't able to pass their state board exams and are still struggling to pay their student loans (some 20+ years later). They went to schools that marketed themselves to low-income women, promised them a successful career in the beauty industry and signed them up for federal loans to do so. Once in school, the schools didn't help the students pass their state licensing exams or find jobs after graduation so many students were left with debt they weren't able to pay while not even being licensed hairstylists.
The article says several schools are now closed because of this but there are hundreds more practicing similarly around the country. This was such a depressing article for me for several reasons. First of all, it gives hairdressers and beauty schools a bad rap. I mean just read the title. We already aren't the most respected field of work out there. I had to do so much convincing when I dropped out of University and signed up for beauty school. Every profession deserves respect and I've had to defend this industry to closed-minded people a few too many times.
Secondly, I know there are many schools out there today doing the same thing described in the article. My counselor didn't even asking me how I was going to pay for school when I signed up. She assumed I'd want to use the financial aid they had because it benefited them more than any other option. I remember having this feeling like she was trying to deter me from paying for some of my school up front with money I had saved for school.
It is possible to pay off your loans though! You can make a great living as a hairstylist, you need to be willing to put a lot of time and effort into it. You can pay it off working at Supercuts or at a luxury salon but it won't be easy if you're not passionate about your craft. If you're not passionate about hair then you won't be a good hairstylist and you won't be busy enough to make the investment worth it.
The bottom line for me after reading that article was that people need to really want to be a hairdresser before enrolling in beauty school and have a plan set out to be successful. I know a lot of great hairstylists who went to beauty schools that didn't teach them how to do hair. These hairstylists knew that they would learn how to do hair while working at a reputable salon with a great education system. It is worth it to go to a more expensive school where you will actually know how to cut hair when you leave though. I went to a great school that helped everyone pass their state board exams as well as helped us find jobs after school. I left beauty school knowing how to cut hair, with a passion for the craft and a desire for even more education so I could continue to grow. This enabled me to find a job where I could pay off the investment I made in going to school in the first place.
Please don't be a beauty school drop out.