BY JACLYN ROSE –
At least fifteen years ago Rich Mountain Community College began discussing the idea of adding the field of cosmetology as an area of study; however, the timing was not right. Throughout the years, this option has been brought to the table several times but it was not until recently that it became a reality. At the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year the Rich Mountain Community College Cosmetology School began and, almost immediately, the 25 positions available for students were filled and a waiting list was created. “We want the people of Polk County to really understand the need for this technical trade. We are not saturating the area with stylists, we have students from all over the area. In fact, of our 25 students, only five are from Mena. We have students from Texarkana, Danville, Russellville, Waldron, Fort Smith and DeQueen,” explained instructor, Tonya Boydstun. “A career in cosmetology is extremely versatile and 80% of stylists work for themselves. Because of this, a cosmetologist can raise their children and schedule their appointments around their lives. They can continue in their education and work while they go to school, really the possibilities are endless.”
Because of the school’s connection with RMCC, there are vast opportunities available to the students that private cosmetology schools are usually unable to offer. Grants and scholarships, tutors, and education advisors are all available. Business courses can also be taken at the college, in addition to their cosmetology classes, so that students can learn what it will take to open their own salon or business. The cost is also significantly less with most private institutions running between $13,000 to $15,000 not including books, supplies and fees. RMCC is able to offer the course, everything included, for less than $6,000. According to Boydstun, “The college is truly the backbone of the Cosmetology School and it offers a solid foundation to the students and a great freedom to learn.”
Boydstun also explained that the classes taught at the Cosmetology School are divided into two parts: theory and practical. During the theory portion of studies the students are in a classroom. They are taking mock tests and learning the process their trade. They work on these studies daily for two hours each morning. The practical portion is the “hands on” part of their education. During this portion of study the students begin training on mannequins and, after 250 clock hours, on actual customers and each other. They also spend the practical portion of their training leaning to handle the financial side of the business, as well as learning to book appointments, and learning about their products and how to sell them. They also get hands on testing experience to prepare them for their licensing test.
RMCC’s School of Cosmetology offers many services to customers. For a small fee patrons can receive haircuts, coloring services, highlights, perms, pedicures, manicures, facials and when the students get further in their education, acrylic fingernails. “Our school appreciates each and every customer but I want to remind the public that these are students who are in the middle of their training. Our students will provide top of the line student services but they will not be on a professional level, however, when they graduate, they will definitely be professional grade,” Boydstun said with a smile. The Cosmetology School is open to outside appointments from 10 am until 3 pm, Monday through Thursday.
There is no age limit for the courses with current students ranging in age from 18-71 years. There is a current waiting list for the program, so Boydstun wants to encourage anyone interesting in the program to begin the process of enrolling at RMCC to get their name on the list.
“The foresight Dr. Wilson and the Board of Directors had in the beginning of the program was superb. I do not think they even know the impact they’ve already had on 25 lives. And when the students graduate and spread out to begin their careers that impact will continue across the world,” said Boydstun.