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It’s My Time for Beauty School

BlogBeauty Career | August 13, 2014
 Is there ever a RIGHT time to join the cosmetology industry?

You may have heard the term Traditional Student.  But what exactly does that mean??

Well, in education we’re told that a traditional student is usually between the ages of 18 and 22, usually right out of high school, sometimes lives with a parent, and maybe has a part time job.  These are people who are just starting their journey in higher education to get the career they desire.  But what happens when the person coming back to school does not fit into those categories?  I guess they could be called a non-traditional student.  Okay, what does that mean?  This is anyone who does not fit the “mold”.  These students typically have families, spouses and children.  They sometimes have full time jobs, own or rent their homes.  They are at a different place in life.  SO, what happens when the non-traditional student wants to change careers?  What happens when that person says, “Now is the time for me to go back to beauty school”.

Throughout my life, I have sat back and secretly envied my friends who started and graduated beauty school throughout the years.  And this is a question I have wondered myself, am I too old?  I have the wonderful opportunity to work in this industry and be a part of the school culture but as I imagine my future I think…what if?    So, to find out the answer to my question, I reached out to people!  I interviewed friends, who are licensed professionals.  I interviewed students at my campus.  I wanted to find out what drove them to start school as a “non-traditional” student and what has the experience been like for them?  This is what I found out….

Our students look up to Bam and view her as a role model!

Cerise (aka Bam)

My first conversation was with a current student at Empire Beauty School in Aurora, CO.  She is currently 42 years old and about 23 weeks into her cosmetology program, we call her Bam.  Bam didn’t even see herself in the beauty industry when she was younger; she always thought she’d end up in the transportation industry.  Although, her family was always nudging her in this direction, they saw her talent before she ever took notice of it.  She originally started a cosmetology program in 2006 and then life happened and she wasn’t able to complete her cosmetology education.  She re-enrolled with Empire in 2014 and is on the path of making her dream a reality.  She doesn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed that she’s older than the other students, and she told me that she feels proud and very serious about her education.  Bam’s children are all grown and they have their own families, although she loves being a grandmother…she has the time to now focus on her education.

Now, this got me thinking.  We have students who range in age from 18 to 63.  If I sat down with a few of these students and asked them for their experiences…how would they compare to Bam’s experience.  I met with Emily (53), Lisa (47), and Patricia (29).   Lisa and Patricia share a very similar story about why they waited to start school, they both got married and started their families.  On the other hand, Emily finished her high school education at 52 years old just so she COULD go to beauty school!

Patricia

Patricia

All three of these students tell me the exact same thing about their experience and that is that it has been difficult to balance everything.  They tell me that their spouses and kids are the main support network and could not manage without that support.  Patricia said, “It was tough at first but my husband has been amazing and my kids think I’m awesome!  I am tired and some days it’s rough to come to school but it is so worth it and rewarding.” Emily explained to me that going back to school is an adjustment, for everyone.  Her family is getting used to the new routines and helping her more.  Lisa is also getting support from her family.  She told me that now that her children are in their teens…it’s easier.  They can help with meals and house cleaning.

Emily

So how does it feel to be older than the other students?  The common feeling here can be that of “I don’t belong”.  But, as Emily tells me, this industry has people of all ages, attitudes, lifestyles, religions, and cultures!  “Be nice to everyone and be honest, courteous, and friendly” Emily adds.  Patricia’s motto is to act professional and stay young at heart.  The overall consensus of these three ladies is that this has been a great experience and they cannot wait to get their careers started!  Patricia adds, “This has been a life lesson and everyone has been awesome.  Even though I am older than most students…you wouldn’t know it.

Here is a pic of Val and I from her visit to the school when she taught our 90/90 club class

Val

The person I was most excited to talk to about going back to school is my friend, Val. She’s has to be the hardest working single parent I have ever met…and she wanted to fulfill her dream of going to beauty school. Val didn’t attend beauty school after high school because she had her daughter, Katie. She told me that being a parent was her number one priority and she needed to focus on work and her daughter. As she grew up she was always the ”go-to” person for hair. Her friends would ask her for up-dos and color and by the time she was 17 she had taught herself how to foil. She never really saw herself becoming a professional stylist; she always thought she’d do hair on the side.

Val started beauty school at 30 years old, 2 kids…and on her 3rd career change. Her friends and family were relieved and supportive that she had finally chosen the beauty industry! She told me that her friends and family were the best support system she could ask for. I asked Val how she managed to balance her education and family. She replied, “By the grace of God, Starbucks, and the amazing support system I have.”

 

Her overall experience of her beauty school education is that it was hard and seemed like it took forever at times. But now, she looks back and knows…it was COMPLETELY worth it.

I also wanted to know how Val felt about starting her career once she finished school. Was it difficult or easy to start her career in the beauty industry? She told me that it was easy, although nerve wracking. She was offered a position while she was still in school! This offer was based simply on the work she was putting out in the student salon! She decided to accept a position at One Stop Barber Shop & Salon in Colorado Springs, CO. The owner was someone she knew from school and he was aware of her work ethic and knew she’d be a good fit for the salon. She told me this, “If I can impress on anyone one thing, it is this: People are always paying attention. So work hard, take your time, do good work, and make every cut one you are proud to say you did, and the jobs will come to you.”

So, what did I learn from this experience?

I learned that there is NEVER a right time to go to beauty school! 18, 28, or 58…it doesn’t matter. If this is what you are drawn to, if this is the industry you crave…just do it! Our “non-traditional” students are leaders in our schools. They are the role models and who other students look up to! They bring a diverse background into our schools and into this industry and are brave for making a career change. So, if you are reading this and contemplating…know that you are not the first, not the oldest, not the longest out of school…you can do this. And you can get a job in the industry and make that career change. It takes all types of people to fill careers in the beauty industry and there is definitely a position out there for you! I am not telling you that it is going to be easy, but I can tell you that it is totally worth it!

Is it your time for Beauty School?  If you would like to learn more about our programs please visit www.empire.edu.

 

Sara Crandall

Written by Sara Crandall

Sara Crandall has been a Career Planning Specialist at Empire Beauty School in Aurora, CO, since 2013. She is passionate about all things beauty and loves helping students navigate their cosmetology careers! Sara also organizes and plans student events, develops industry partnerships for guest educators to bring their knowledge to Empire, and is extremely active with her campus philanthropy. Also acting as the school’s social media coordinator, she is always online and in touch with her students by posting photos and events.

2 Comments

  • Kewani says:

    Very inspiring article. Thank you!

  • Christy says:

    Sara, I love your article! I was 43 when I entered beauty school. I was the oldest student, of course, but I had wanted to attend for years. Finally one day I thought, What the heck.

    It was the best thing I ever did for myself. I am a stylist, a manager, a retail coach and have my own beauty career website at http://cosmetologistlife.com/.

    In fact, my school was bought by Empire so I guess you could say I am an alumni.

    I want to fully encourage anybody who has had the dream of living their life in the beauty industry to GO FOR IT! The world needs those of us who are passionate about our business.
    It is a very fulfilling and rewarding career choice. Most people don’t get it, but they can’t live without us!

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