Barber School Grind: Reflections on the Experience

Two weeks ago myself and 12 other students completed the Barber Program at Emily Griffith Technical College.  For the last ten months, for 32 hours a week, we dove into the practice of barbering - studying and training to successfully pass the Colorado State Barbering Board Examination and become licensed professionals.  The ten months weren't easy, and we lost a few along the way.  Between school and work, our days and weeks were long and our bank accounts were low. However, now, having completed the program, I look back and think about how much I learned, the values that were instilled in me, and the great friends I made.  

While I didn't really know what to expect from barber school last September when I started, I definitely didn't expect what it was.  My attitude was, 'It's cutting hair, right?  How difficult can it be??'  Turns out, it's a lot more than that.  Chemistry and biology, sanitation and safety procedures, and rules and regulations are a much bigger part of the program than I'd expected. Before we made a single cut, we learned several different perm styles, finger waves, pin curls, facials, scalp treatments, and straight razor shaving.  We learned different styles and techniques of shear cutting on long hair and clipper cutting on shorter hair.  I learned a lot about myself: how to manage my time and priorities of school, work, and play. That I could work an 80+ hour week and still take care of my dog and have some fun. How to work and learn with 12 other personalities, and how to deal with upset clients whos hair you just completely farmed.  

Through that learning process, several values were realized and instilled in me, including commitment, patience, and time management.  My commitment was tested, day in and day out.  Not having been in school for several years, getting there on time every morning and staying the whole day was difficult to say the least.  Commitment to the program was essential, as proven by the 4 students who dropped out along the way.  My patience was tried, day in and day out.  Until you've tried to perform a finger wave on a mannequin head before, rolled perm rods or pin curls, or tried to blend hair for the first time, believe me: mannequin heads rolled.  In addition, patience with my classmates was not always easy, but crucial.  Finally, my time management skills were developed, day in and day out.  Once you get to school and clock in on time, you find yourself responsible for spending the day practicing everything you have been taught.  While the program itself was structured rigidly, the day-to-day learning environment was not.  That being said, if I didn't manage my tasks each day or I didn't learn, my time and money was wasted.  Not to mention being in control of my hours outside of work, around two jobs, my dog, and a healthy amount of sleep to be successful.  Commitment, patience, and time management are all values I will continue to practice and develop in my career and life in general.

I would not have learned everything I did had it not been for the team of friends I made along the way.  I wouldn't have been committed or patient enough to graduate had it not been for the comrades that picked me up when I was down, motivated me when I was frustrated, and helped me when we didn't have a teacher.  I wouldn't have managed my time well had it not been for the fellow students who kept me knocking out practicals when I wanted to be lazy.  This team became Splash City Barbers, a way for us to connect and gain followers on social media.  It's weird how close you get to a dude after practicing facials and holding a blade to their throat for ten months.  The camaraderie I experienced and the friends I made are easily, hands down, the best part of my experience in barber school.  

As I gear up to take the Colorado State Barber Board Examinations and think about everything I learned, the values I developed, and, most importantly, the friendships I discovered in barber school, I am happy and grateful for the experience.  

Conor Drake-Lavelle

Barber and Stylist

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