What distance/online learning really looks like at Bellus Academy

An Interview with Regional Cosmetology Director Dorothy Wrightsman

In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, Bellus Academy complied with state-at-home regulations and temporarily shut its doors. While some schools across the nation have halted education until they can re-open, we pivoted quickly to distance/online education.

Within a week, our students were able to continue their coursework at home with their educators helping them every step of the way. We have even started new students, which was really exciting for us!

If you’re considering a career in beauty and wellness, you don’t have to wait. In fact, some of our newer students expressed they chose Bellus Academy because we adapted so quickly and took the time to create an online experience that mimicked the classroom setting. The fact is, if you’re at home all day anyway, why not get started with your education and be even closer to starting your dream career.

We wanted to give you a glimpse into what this new online education looks like so that you know what to expect when you sign up for one of our programs. So we sat down with Dorothy Wrightsman, Regional Cosmetology Director for Bellus Academy, to explain how it all works.

Q. Which programs have moved to distance learning?
All of them except for our Spa Nails program.

Q. What will students be using to access their online portal? Will they need their own computer?
Our new students will be able to pick up their distance education student kit before school starts, which includes an iPad and textbooks. Our innovative education will allow you to access our virtual education using your new iPad. The rest of the kit will be distributed at a later time.

Q. How does the distance/online education work?
Most of our programs were already using tech-based education that was accessible from an iPad, so shifting to online education wasn’t a giant hurdle. Students login daily to our online portal, complete with coursework, assignments and activities. There are interactive functions so that you can stay in constant contact with your educator.

Q. How much of the education is theory vs. practical?
Our curriculum includes theory work, which will give you a strong foundation once you get into hands-on learning. The practical portion will be done in the classroom for newer students once we re-open. Currently, our seasoned students who started in the classroom can do practical training at home. We want our newer students to feel more confident before working with tools and mannequins, so we’ve opted to keep a strong emphasis on theory for brand new students.

Q. Once a student starts, what can they expect the first week?
You begin your education at Bellus Academy in our 8-week Discovery phase. From an online perspective, the entire first week is taught via Zoom by an educator, where you’ll have activities and live teaching every day. We want to get comfortable with how the portal works and get to know your educator and classmates.

Q. What happens after the first week?

Students will move into our accelerated learning portion the second week of school and will remain there until our school re-opens. Your online portal will have reading and assignments for you to submit daily. This becomes more of an independent, go at your own pace type of learning, but there is always an educator online for you to chat with and get one-on-one help.

Q. Can you give an example of what some of the assignments are?
Sometimes it’s as simple as watching a video and sharing takeaways that you learned. We also have students read chapters and answer questions to show they know the material. Our educators are also doing look and learns over zoom, which is essentially live demos.

Q. Can you think of any advantages to online education versus in-person?
I can think of a ton! Honestly, the main advantage is that it’s much more intimate and allows the student to learn at their own pace. You can get through a lot of theory, giving you a very strong foundation. The educators are also very attentive because when you’re at school, things come up or distractions happen—all things that aren’t issues with distance learning. Of course another huge advantage is that you’re home. You don’t have to physically come to school, so working in your own environment at your own pace is a great benefit.

Q. Will Bellus Academy continue with distance learning once the schools re- open?
We’ve wanted to do this for a while, so that the fact that we were kind of forced to was a blessing in disguise. It’s allowed us to dive in and be very student-focused. I believe it’s unified our four campuses tremendously. This industry is ever-evolving. So I’m certain our team will look at options for the future that might include distance education. We’ll keep you posted!

Q. How will things be different when the schools re-open?
I desperately miss seeing our students in-person, and I know the other educators feel like the same way. I suspect we’ll be busy (everyone needs to a salon and spa day after quarantine!). I think we’ll see passionate students who missed working on clients, so they’ll be eager to be hands-on. All four schools have undergone renovations during the closure so that we when we re-open, social distancing is still a priority. We’ll be giving our students and clients a little more space so they feel safer.

To learn more about our program offerings, tuition and financial aid opportunities, please schedule a virtual appointment with an Admissions team member. You can call us at 888-990-7094 or text us at 858-375-6247.

Visit our Instagram Page and check out our #BellusAtHome hashtag highlight story to catch a behind the scenes glimpse of our educators and students in action!

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