I am rare in that I have known since I was a small child what I wanted to do with my life-be an excellent massage therapist! Even knowing that I wanted to be a massage therapist since I was three, I did not go to school right away. In fact, I had a job working in childcare for a few years before I even started looking into going to school for massage.
While working in childcare, I received a scholarship to become a teacher, which is great because while taking these courses I had an opportunity to learn how people learn. Even though I never completed college to become a teacher, taking these classes helped me learn something essential: the different styles of learning. There are three main ways that people learn; auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. Most people learn primarily from one of these three ways, with one of the other two as a secondary, some people learn from all three ways. It is imperative to know what kind of learner you are. I learned that I am primarily a kinesthetic learner with a visual secondary, very little from auditory.
Knowing how I learn, it was time to find the right school for me. Given that massage is very hands on I did not think that I would have trouble finding a school that suited my learning style. However, in my search, I found that not all schools are equal. First I looked at the school my sister went to, a community college that had a cheap short program. While there was a decent amount of hands-on, there was also a lot more lecture, since I learned the least from auditory this was one ding against this school for me. Another downside to this school is, since it is not geared specifically towards massage there was only one teacher which limits how much you can learn and if you do not vibe with the one teacher the program could be unbearable. If you failed one portion of the program, you would need to start over from the beginning, rather than retaking the part that you failed. Finally, this college seemed to be geared more towards getting people in and out quickly-they teach you the basics so that you can pass the exams, but not much more than that.
The next four schools I looked at were more-or-less the same with some slight variations. Two schools did not return my call and one school that finally returned my call a year after I graduated from the school I ended up going to. Nearly ready to give up I decided to look at one last school, this happened to be more than twice as expensive as the second most expensive school in my area. I set up a meeting with an advisor to take a tour of the school, this school focuses solely on massage, had a few dozen teachers, and if you failed one class, you could retake that one class. Instead of everyone sitting at desks (even for the lecture classes) you can pull out tables to sit at, on or lay on or you can use the larger exercise balls for your seat, you can sit or lay on the floor. After speaking with my advisor a little more I decided that this be the school I wanted to go to, they care about the quality of the school, they prided themselves on their students consistently getting the highest marks on the exams. I was told that classes started in a few days. Otherwise, I would have to wait months. After a few minutes, I decided it was time to take charge and do what I wanted, no more making excuses for why I could not do it “now.”
Looking back I chose the perfect school for me; it was completely worth it.
So if you are considering becoming a massage therapist (or any other profession), figure out how you learn best then look into the different schools in your area. Try to find one that suits your learning needs. What’s most important to you? Tuition cost, how long you will be in school for, the quality of teaching, reputation of the school, how you learn, or something else.
Whatever you choose, good luck and if you start it and find it is not the right fit for you, don’t feel too pressured to stay at that school.