Using Student Services
Would you trust a student driver to get you to the airport fast? Probably not, but you certainly wouldn't mind getting a free massage from a student at a top-notch massage institute. With students training to be tomorrow's masters, there's money to be saved using their services.
Getting a cavity filled without dental insurance? Ouch! That can easily cost you a couple hundred dollars. Luckily, dental schools need students. Columbia University and New York University both have dental schools that offer deeply discounted services. The work is thorough and supervised by professors. At NYU's dental school, you can save 50% to 75% off the price of regular services paid for without insurance. Though these schools can take on whatever tooth trouble you're facing, the work takes longer -- a lot longer -- than popping in to see your usual dentist.
New York City is the fashion capital of the world and also one of the most expensive when it comes to keeping your hair in step with the high fashion. Luckily, a lot of these world-famous and celeb-adored salons have student training programs. Antonio Prieto Salon in Chelsea, for instance, has different training levels with haircut prices that range from $45 to $60 -- that's a savings of 70%. My personal favorite, Paul LaBrecque on the Upper East Side, gives out haircuts for $20, color for $30, and highlights $40 on Mondays only. There is also the Aveda Academy on West Broadway (and other school locations across the country) -- has haircuts starting at $45 and color and partial highlights begin at $50. Though apprentice stylists aren't available Sunday through Tuesday. Check with your local swanky salon to see if they have an apprentice program or are in need of hair models. Though the trip to the beauty salon will take more time, especially when the instructor needs to supervise, the savings are worth it. And if the students mess up? It's hair -- it will grow back eventually. For most of us, anyway.
Ah, the culinary school. What a better way to get a deal at a five-star restaurant than being the guinea pig for future Michelin chefs. If you have a culinary school near you, check to see if they have a restaurant. Chances are you'll find a discounted, multicourse gourmet meal for lunch or dinner. New York boasts the French Culinary Institute (FCI) and the Institute of Culinary Education (I.C.E.). The Culinary Institute of America is a lovely train trip to the Hudson Valley, with institutes in St. Helena, CA and San Antonio, TX, too. We tested L'Ecole, the restaurant of the French Culinary Institute. A four-course dinner costs $42 while a three-course lunch is $28. For your average five star restaurant in Manhattan, that's a savings of $15 to $30. The food is just as exquisite and the bread is as good as the bread they're used to in Paris, as verified by my French date. This experience was a treat for the both the senses and the wallet.
While living in Portland, Oregon for a year, I was spoiled by the East West College, a professional school of massage and spa training. On select days and times during the week, the students provide 45-minute massages for $25, but you have to make an appointment and be prepared to fill out some paperwork. (And you have to be 18 or over. Previous injuries require a doctor's permission). An average one hour massage can cost $65, these massages provide a relaxing discount of $40.
Do you have a holistic school in your neck of the woods? Inquire about an apprentice program, like the clinic available at the Swedish Massage Institute, which does acupuncture as well. Six one-hour sessions can be purchased for $210 for the stress-releasing massage program, and if you have a specific condition, a 12-session therapy massage clinic package can be purchased for $360. Again, make sure you have the patience and appreciation that this is a learning opportunity for a student, not just a cheap way to get a massage.
If you're not lucky enough to have a lawyer in the family -- one who actually practices -- then check with your local law school to see if they offer free law clinics. Seeing a lawyer can cost around $300 an hour when working with a reputable firm and those hours rack up -- being lawyers, they make sure they do. Albany Law School upstate has an award-winning free clinic that helps out hundreds of people each year. Check out a list of some of these New York City-based law schools to see how to find out whether your case qualifies for pro bono treatment.
Student services are an excellent way to save money. These schools have veteran professionals guiding the students, so even if you're worried about subpar work, the right expertise is always on hand. The only major drawback is that some of these services, especially the dental school, where meticulousness counts, suck up significantly more of your time than if you paid a professional. I embrace the student services where it comes to beauty, massage, and five-star dining. I would consider taking advantage of the law clinics as well but I would be careful about getting a second opinion. Overall, being a guinea pig for students practicing on entering the working world of their industry is a great help for education ... and your wallet.