Columbia Trade School Offers Alternative to Traditional Colleges

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COLUMBIA - The owner of a cosmetology school in Columbia said he has something to offer many traditional colleges can't.

"Basically, I have 100 percent job placement," Sam Brown said. "Students who graduate from my program find jobs and go to work." He said some even set up their own establishments right out of school.

Brown, the owner of Sam Brown's Cosmetology and Barber Institute, said many of his students tried traditional colleges and universities, but ultimately decided a trade school was better for them.

"They have a parent or someone saying, you know, I really want you to do this. Go a year or two years of college and find out what you really want to do," Brown said. "And then after they do that for awhile they realize they really want to get into an industry that's more hands-on and more people oriented."

Some, like Rebekah Barber, come to cosmetology school because they do not have the money for traditional schools. Barber said going to trade schools allowed her to follow her passion for hair dressing without taking out costly student loans.

"I didn't want to go to college without knowing exactly what I wanted to do and waste my money," Barber said. "My mother was a single mother, and I didn't want her to have to take out loans."

Brown said his school costs much less than most traditional colleges. According to Brown's website, the costs for books, courses and materials range from just $2,000 to $5,880. Because Brown operates a private school, he does not accept federal financial aid or student loans, and instead has his students pay on a payment plan until they finish their coursework.

Brown said he went to a traditional school himself, before making the shift to trade school, believing it would be a better avenue to explore his interests. He said many of his students have the same mindset.

"A lot of times they'll come and say, ‘Sam I wish that I'd just gone to cosmetology school in the first place.'"