These 23 Hairstyles Will *Actually* Get You Excited About Going Back to School


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With all the internship interviews, networking events, social functions—oh, and of course, the classes—coming up in a few months, all you college and grad students are gonna need more than a few back-to-school nail and hairstyle ideas to get you through the next school year. Actually, let’s add TAs, professors, and teachers to that list, too, because getting ready for lecture, be it in-person or on Zoom, is a struggle for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a new haircut idea (maybe this is finally the semester you try bangs?!), a new hair color trend for the season, or just an easy everyday style so you can give the messy bun a break every once in a while, we’ve got all the back-to-school hairstyles, cuts, and colors for you to try this year, below.

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Piece-y Ponytail for School

If you got the urge to go blonde for summer and bleached your hair, don’t rush to go back to your roots—a rooty blonde color is always a cool idea. Play up the ’90s grunge look with a textured ponytail and pieces in the front.


Back-to-School Babylights

You don’t have to totally reinvent your style with the start of each school year if you don’t wanna. A subtle color change, like a sprinkle of highlights on brown hair, can still make a noticeable difference. Proof: These caramel babylights, aka the perfect fall hair color.


Twisted With a Hair Comb Clip

If you want an easy hairstyle idea that still looks cute, put down the hair tie and grab a hair comb clip instead. Never used one of these clips before? Here’s the trick: Lay the clip on the side where the comb fits the curve of your head, then push the teeth against the direction of the hair to secure it into your twist.


Box Braids

If you’re looking for a protective style that’ll last you six to eight weeks, try box braids. The versatility and longevity of this style definitely make up for the hours spent in the salon to get them.


Braided Braids for School

Once you’ve got your braids, you’ve got endless options for ways to wear them in different braided hairstyles that you can switch up as often as you’d like. Take this braided box-braid look, for instance—10/10 recommend for your back-to-school style.


Layered Hairstyle for School

Whether you’re team middle part or side part, you can still update your hairstyle for the new school year by adding a few layers throughout your hair. Worried about going too short? Tell your stylist you want the shortest layer to still be able to fit into a ponytail or topknot.


Slicked Bun With Bangs

For this take on a back-to-school hairstyle for curly hair, pair a low, slicked-back bun with curly bangs like these. To get the look, section off your fringe in the front, then use a brush to smooth and slick the rest back.


Wet Hair

Whether you just hopped out of the shower and you’re late for class or you just prefer heatless hairstyles, this wet-hair look deserves a spot in your rotation. Get yourself a bottle of this shine serum to keep it looking wet all day long.


A Bun With Twists

If you love a practical bun hairstyle but also want to change it up, try this ~twist~ on a classic bun. Pull out two sections of hair around your hairline to wear loose in twists, then gather the rest of your hair into a high bun.


Flipped-Out Ends for School

All you need for this sleek look is a flat iron and a smoothing hair serum. Working with one small section at a time, run the straightener through your hair, slightly angling the plates outward as you reach the bottom inch of your strands to create a little flick on the ends. Then, use your serum and the palm of your hands to smooth any flyaways on top.


High Pigtails With Braids

This cool, modern take on the pigtails you know and love is perfect for running around your college campus—and the braided accent makes it even better for this fall’s back-to-school hairstyle.


A Shag Haircut for School

Few haircuts require as little daily styling as the shag, which makes it ideal for the college student who prefers to roll out of bed in the morning and head straight to class (ahem, tbt to me).


Bobby-Pin Hair for School

Slide two bobby-pins on either side of your part to take an ordinary sleek, straight hairstyle to the next level. Now if only you could find your bobby pins hidden in every bag, corner, and crevice…


High Braided Ponytail

The first day back to school is as good a time as any to finally wear that super-high, super-long, super-cool ponytail hairstyle you’ve been wanting to try.


Back-to-School ’70s Waves

With all the layers and curtain bangs, it feels like the ’70s all over again. But even if you don’t have bangs, you can still get the look with a curling wand or straightener and texture spray. Just curl the hair away from your face, leaving the ends straight, then brush it out. Don’t have a texturizing spray? Take a nap between classes to muss it up a little. Works like a charm.


Half-Up With a Scrunchie

If you love a good scrunchie (who doesn’t?), make it an essential part of your back-to-school hairstyle and outfit. Half-up hairstyles, ponytails, buns—pretty much any updo looks better with a scrunchie, IMO. Just find one made of silky satin so it doesn’t pull on your curls.


A Sleek Ponytail for School

Not your intramural-sports ponytail, this sleek updo would be perfect for pretty much any other event on campus when you want to wear your hair up in a sophisticated updo.


Beaded Headband for School

Every college student (especially the procrastinators) needs a statement headband for an easy back-to-school hairstyle. When you don’t have time to pull together a look for that big presentation but need to look pulled together, a headband is the ultimate trick.


Spikey Back-to-School Updo

A slicked-back updo, claw clips, spikey tips—remind me, what year it is again? This back-to-school hairstyle is one that the class of ’02 and class of ’22 can both appreciate. Here’s a trick if you weren’t alive to appreciate this look the first time around: A boar bristle brush will get all the bumps out for a super-slick finish like this.


Short Passion Twists

When you can’t decide between Goddess locs and Senegalese twists, go with passion twists like these. Wear your twists down, or gather a few for a half-up style when you want to change things up for the first day of school.


Half-Up Pigtails for School

Show this photo to anyone who says short or medium-length hair can’t wear their hair up. If you have a few shorter pieces, a half-up hairstyle gets the job done just fine. It looks cute, too.


Beach Waves for School

If you’re sad to say goodbye to summer, take your beach waves with you back to school. Use a little hair oil, like argan oil, to keep your lengths hydrated, soft, and shiny.


Pigtail Braids

Get used to this low, braided look for the next few years because not only is it a cute, easy back-to-school hairstyle, but it also pairs nicely with a cap for a graduation hairstyle.

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