Beauty School Drop-Ins

They say everything is bigger in Texas. Apparently cosmetology is no exception.

Last month, well after many community colleges around the country had dropped such programs, Lone Star College’s North Harris campus bucked the trend and opened a school of cosmetology with the help of Farouk Systems, a Houston-based manufacturer known for its CHI brand of hair care products. Officials from the college and the manufacturer argue that the new school gives students an entry way into a field they consider "recession-proof" and a competitive advantage over students who flock to cosmetology trade schools, many of which do not offer associate degrees and accompanying business training.

Steve Head, president of the North Harris campus, admitted that opening a cosmetology school "seemed to run counter to what a lot of colleges are doing right now." After all, community colleges these days like to boast about their new offerings in robotics or health fields or green technologies. But he is not apologetic about it. Cosmetology was one of the college’s original offerings, has been around for 37 years, and consistently maintains a waiting list for entry.

If anything, Head thinks of the new school and its relationship with Farouk — which is training college instructors and giving the school products and equipment to use — as adding value to an already popular program at the college. Students can earn a one-year certificate or an associate of applied science in cosmetology, both of which now require classes on management and marketing. Additionally, students now learn about the chemistry and environmental aspects of cosmetology, including but not limited to the development and proliferation of ammonia-free hair care products.

“We’re trying to separate us from all of the other cosmetology schools out there,” Head said. “We’re trying to elevate the job for cosmetologists and turn it into a profession. It’s more than just cutting hair.”

Head also vehemently defends the viability of cosmetology as a profession, especially in today’s sour economy.

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