When choosing between nail schools, there's more to factor in to your decision than the basics: location, tuition, curriculum, program length, and state board exam preparation. Here are seven questions you may not have thought to ask the nail schools you're considering.
1. What is the school's placement rate? Find out how many graduates are working as nail techs in the months and years after graduation. Are placement services provided before graduation? Do salon owners come in regularly to watch students work and offer on-site informational interviews? Ask to see the list of planned salon owner visits for the current year. Good nail schools will offer plenty of opportunities for you to showcase your skills to area employers.
2. Does the school offer evening and weekend hours? If the nail school is only open during regular business hours (9 to 5), you may not be able to get adequate practical experience, and you will not be prepared for the daily schedule of a nail tech, which often consists of night and weekend work. You'll have daytime clients too, but if you want to build a full client book, you'll need to be available whenever they are.
3. How much time do students spend on the clinic floor? When the clinic floor is open to the paying public, there should be plenty of patrons for you to work on. If nail schools aren't attracting clients, you won't be able to get the real-life practice you need. Ask about the nail technology services offered on the clinic floor as well. You should be performing manicures, pedicures, tips, acrylic nails, gel nails, forms, fiber wraps, and more. Even though you'll be getting plenty of practice on fake hands in the classroom, you need experience with real clients to make your education at nail schools successful.
4. How many different instructors teach the nail technology program? It's a good idea to be exposed to different teaching styles, since one instructor will probably not be able to teach you every practical aspect of nail technology. Find out if any specialists come in to teach specific classes and provide expert insight into areas of specialty (such as gels and drills).
5. Are the teachers licensed nail technicians or cosmetologists? There's nothing wrong with a cosmetology license, but some cosmetology teachers have never done nails for a living. Nail tech teachers, on the other hand, are usually working in the field, and can provide an education based on more than textbook knowledge.
6. How often do manufacturer reps come in to give a lesson or product demonstration? Ask to see the list of planned lessons/demos for the current year. This will also give you a better idea of the nail school's reputation and placement rate. Manufacturers visit good nail schools often because the students there will soon be nail techs purchasing their products.
7. Can I speak with current students? You can ask the nail school to coordinate conversations for you, or you can visit the school and talk to students on their breaks from class. Visit at different times to get a better picture of the overall education experience. See if the atmosphere is a good fit for you and if the learning environment is a positive one, one where you can thrive.
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