What is MC College?
You’ve probably seen MC College. It’s the tall, glass tower across from building six at MacEwan. Its students are elusive, but you’ve likely seen them walking around through their glass windows or hitting their vapes on the building’s stoop. You might also know that MC College is a private college that specializes in esthetics and hair styling.
Despite being MacEwan’s neighbour, there isn’t a lot of awareness of what they actually do or what programs they offer. Strangely enough, MC College has been around since 1925 although it went under the name “Marvel” and uniquely trained hairdressers.
MC College moved into its current building four years ago. Its building is a converted office building, but the modern architecture works for MC College’s creative atmosphere. The windows provide an enviable view of the cityscape that’s nothing like the Robbins Building’s view of the combination Tim Horton’s/Wendy’s.
MC College’s move signalled a new start for the school, as well as the start of its relationship with MacEwan. MC’s students typically go to MacEwan to visit the cafeteria or grab a cup of joe from its variety of coffee shops.
“I think we just kind of keep to ourselves,” says Jessica Kroetsch, a recent graduate from MC College’s fashion design program. “I know myself personally, I would go across the street to MacEwan to go to like the food court . . . because we only have the café at MC.”
According to Analia Rubie, the director for MC College’s Edmonton campus, there is a lot of opportunity for MacEwan and MC College to get to know one another. Rubie believes that MacEwan students could benefit from taking advantage of some of the MC College’s promotions such as $30 pedicures and manicures on Tuesday, $5 haircuts on Wednesdays, and 40 per cent off for spa services on Friday.
“I don’t think a lot of them know about it, to be honest,” says Rubie. “. . . We get a good handful of MacEwan students, but we’d love to have more.”
“For us, it’s not the monetary value, but the hands-on experience our students are getting, and also offering to the community a good value to get your hair done,” she says.
Providing students hands-on experience is a crucial element in all of MC College’s programs.
The course material for MC College’s programs differs greatly from MacEwan’s. In Kroetsch’s case, she learned theory and history based on fashion design, and got the opportunity to create pieces that were displayed in a fashion show.
“I think because MC [College] is so small compared to MacEwan, we might be a bit more close-knit than MacEwan students.”
Jessica Kroetsch, MC College fashion design graduate
Esthetics students get to learn about the human body — including skin types, the circulatory system, and how certain conditions affect treatment.
“We’ve actually had teachers show students piece of hair in different textures under microscopes,” says Rubie. “. . . And estheticians having to know the complications of knowing that you can’t wax somebody on Accutane.”
MC College prioritizes hands-on experience which is done directly on-campus. Some rooms are meant to simulate a salon with several salon chairs and mirrors. While rows of mannequin heads might not mean much to MacEwan students, they give MC’s hairstyling students the means to practice their craft.
The building’s simulation rooms contain beauty beds which are used for esthetics procedures like manicures, pedicures, waxing, skin care, and facials. One floor is dedicated entirely to the spa where students can practice spa treatments on each other and clients. The spa floor has pedicure chairs, beauty beds, tabling for manicures, and private rooms for other treatments.
Aside from practicing on clients, students have requirements to complete their program, similar to the completion of a practicum or clinicals for a degree. Requirements for the esthetics and hairstyling programs are work-experience in a salon or spa. Fashion students must complete a 160-hour internship with a fashion designer.
“We’ve had students go to designers in Africa, New York, Toronto. Some stay locally,” says Rubie. “Hair students go to salons of their choice . . . and the same goes for the spa.”
Fashion students also have the opportunity to create designs for a fashion show. Kroetsch spent a large part of her program creating “Wicked Webbed Women” — a collection of pieces inspired by alternative fashion.
The combination of learning, practice, and work experience might sound overwhelming, especially for programs that vary in length. The fashion design program is a year long, esthetics is seven months long, and hairstyling program can be completed in either nine months or a year.
“I think no matter what, it’s one year,” says Kroetsch. “It’s just the amount of time that you’re in there. I know that for [hairstyling] they have a five-day option, they have a three-day option. It really depends on what works.”
According to Rubie, the pandemic made MC College consider how flexible programs could accommodate students. “We have very flexible programs,” says Rubie. “We found that . . . COVID changed people’s mentality. People’s mentality about school has changed, and work has changed. So, flexible scheduling is a thing.”
One of MC College’s defining characteristics is the size of its programs… not its building. Large classes are not an issue that MC has to contend with. Every year, MC College trains approximately 1,200 students across all of its six campuses.
“For us, it’s not the monetary value, but the hands-on experience our students are getting, and also offering to the community a good value to get your hair done.”
Analia Rubie, director of MC College
Even at Kroetsch’s convocation, I was taken aback by how small the programs were. The largest program was hairstyling with 77 graduates. Esthetics had only 31 graduates. And fashion design had only 13 graduates. It’s difficult to imagine MacEwan with such numbers, especially with certain classrooms packed like a Tokyo train car.
Kroetsch says, “I think because MC [College] is so small compared to MacEwan, we might be a bit more close-knit than MacEwan students.”
Compared to MacEwan, MC College might seem unconventional, but there is a certain charm to how different they are. Perhaps it’s unfair to hold the college and its students to MacEwan’s standards, especially when they have an entirely different view on education and campus culture.
Regardless, MC College is here to stay, and they’re not going anywhere. It might be time for MacEwan students to take a look across the street, and get to know their neighbours.
Photos by Sam Poier