Before I went to a couple myself, I often wondered if student hair salons were any good. Do I *really* want to be someone's first haircut? I ended up taking the plunge when I moved literally across the street from an Aveda salon in Philadelphia.
Student hair salons are, by nature, hit or miss. My first time, I got an experienced hair dresser who had only come to the student center to perfect her technique and broaden her job prospects as she moved. I got a great haircut for $18! Unfortunately, my last haircut from a student hair salon was a complete miss (my hair was two different lengths!). Here are my tips for ensuring you get the best haircut you can:
1. Check out the student hair salons' Yelp pages to get a sense of whether people are happy with their haircut. It doesn't really matter if your hair wasn't great halfway through, if an experienced teacher was able to completely fix your haircut (something that has happened to me a few times! which brings me to my next point...)
2. Leave a LOT of time for your appointment! 1 hour will not be enough, I would say 3 hours for any styling (ie, layers) along with a trim. You want to have enough time to get a teacher to fix your hair, and you don't want to worry about missing any future appointments.
3. Be pro-active about what you want. If you know you won't be able to say anything to a new hairdresser, a student salon may not be for you. If your hair isn't as short as you want, tell them! If they are being rough with the shampoo, be sure to mention it. Be constructive, not harsh!
4. Be willing to have your hair be slightly different than what you expected. If you have a certain, distinctive look (ie, a certain shade of blonde hair, a certain length of your hair, etc), you will probably not be happy. I got a great haircut from a student salon, but it wasn't what I asked for at all! You have to be open to changing your expectations.
5. Ask about discounts! When haircuts are so cheap at student salons, it's easy to forget about the normal discounts. I only found out about a 20% off student discount in my last term!