Recently, on the AACS Listserve (American Association of Cosmetology Schools), someone asked for advice on raising attendance requirements from 75% to 85%. Back in my days as a school director, I was with a school that considered making this exact move – increasing from 75% required attendance to 85%. I thought it was a big mistake. Our students barely met the 75% requirement and I felt moving it up would leave us with a bunch of students not maintaining satisfactory progress.
I am happy to say that I was absolutely wrong in thinking students wouldn’t meet the requirement. When we changed the requirement, students started meeting the new expectation. I learned a valuable lesson, which is that students will perform to whatever minimum expectations you set.
As I was reading through the listserve responses, I was excited that most school owners/directors agreed that it is a good move to increase attendance requirements. We should raise the bar in our schools. As a matter of fact, if I was still in school today, I think I would set attendance requirements even higher. For better student retention, for better attendance, for better licensure rates, for better attitudes, and for better student participation, we should start to set high expectations for our students.
Brian Tracy once said “You can never rise higher than your expectations of yourself. Expect the best.” I love that quote, but I’d like to change it a bit to this, “Students will never rise higher than your expectations of them. Expect the best!”
Here are 3 tips to help you set high expectations for your students.
Replace rules with expectations. Most people don’t like rules because rules tell us what we can and can’t do. They are controlling and restrictive and most people don’t want to be controlled. Nobody is the boss of me! Instead of calling them rules of conduct, change your language to “expectations.” It is more positive because it is about what we can do and what we can achieve.
Explain the expectations. You have to explain exactly what you expect of your students. Don’t water down your expectations. Also, you must remind them often. You can’t just tell them in orientation and expect the student to remember for the rest of the program. You need to find ways to remind them of the expectations throughout their training.
Set goals. Help the student set goals for their future. Help them design a plan for success. Once the goals are in place you can then hold the students accountable. When their behavior is contrary to what they said they wanted, you can remind them, “this is what you said you wanted.”
What can you do to raise the bar with your students?
Lisha Barnes is a Cosmetology/Barber Instructor with over 25 years of experience. She started out in a small private school working in Admissions, Financial Aid, Education, and School Director. She was a Director of Education for a chain of Private Cosmetology schools. Currently she serves as the Academic Development Manager for Milady where she supports schools and educators around the nation with continuing education, curriculum development and product knowledge. Lisha has served as an Educator for Milady’s Career Institute; NACCAS Commission; Career Educators of America Committee Member; and has authored numerous writing projects for Milady. This industry experience allows her to see the industry from a variety of viewpoints, which helps in sharing information and ideas with educators all around the world.