Crimes of Persuasion

Schemes, scams, frauds.

Do Modeling Schools Lead to Modeling Jobs?

Perhaps your little princess has asked you to make her dream come true by enrolling her in modeling classes, or maybe you were approached at the mall or on the street by a "model scout" who suggests your adorable child might either qualify, or has been accepted on the spot, to participate in one of their specialized training programs which could very well lead to a career in modeling.

Either way, you are now faced with an awkward parental dilemma.

What price are you willing to pay to keep your child's fragile self-worth, and dreams of stardom, from being shattered?

That is, thankfully, your decision to make and not mine.

However, you should, at the very least, attempt to become somewhat informed of what pitfalls might await you.

Both modeling agencies or schools have only two means of acquiring cashflow to stay in business: Legitimate commercial advertising clients who PAY to hire models to promote their products, or from the models themselves.

Did you ever think that if an agency or modeling school were able to actually BOOK paying work for you that they wouldn't NEED you to pay for anything?

Wouldn't you rather be with an agency that survives on finding paying jobs for you, rather than one that is focused primarily on getting money from you?

If you read on, you may discover some adult pain points  which surpass any temporary level of juvenile disappointment of you as a parent.

Always remember that there are less costly, but equally beneficial, alternatives out there to support your child's dreams and self-esteem.

Modeling schools are often described as charm schools or confidence builders. If you want to be charming and confident, go there.

But, if you truly want to be a model and wish to see if you have what it takes, see an agent.

Acceptance, Being Trained and Eventual Graduation

Being "accepted" into any modeling school means nothing, because they are a school, not an agency.

It is likely that anyone with the enrollment fee will be not only accepted, but welcomed with open arms.

At least be careful to avoid one of the schools who take on ANYONE, even those people who everyone KNOWS don't meet any industry standards and will never make it in the business. 

Long term, it should be noted that a certificate or graduation from any modeling school means nothing in the real world of modeling. There are no standards and there is no central education organization for the modeling industry.

SAVE YOUR MONEY. If you must spend money, invest it in a good headshot. If you actually DO have any talent or potential, a legitimate agency will tell you —and they won't charge you a dime.

Look in the Yellow Pages and call all the agencies listed. Ask if they are a SAG or AFTRA franchised/affiliated agency. If not, HANG UP. If so, ask if they have open calls, or if you can drop off a headshot for their consideration.

You can also call local Commercial Photographers in your area, and ask if they ever do test shoots. If they do, they would be another good source for feedback on your potential.

How to become a model and get a modeling job

Confusion surrounding modeling schools probably originates from the understanding of how almost everyone qualifies for occupations. For most all jobs besides modeling, you have to prepare for the profession.

You go to school, university, or college, take classes or courses, graduate, receive a diploma or certificate, and then pound the pavement looking for work.

Not so with modeling. You don't have to go to school, university, or college, and you need no formal education. You can just visit a model agency. You don't need to bring any official documents. You just show up.

And if God somehow blessed you or your child with the physical and facial traits required by the fickle fashion world at that exact moment in time, then good for you.

You might just have a temporary runway career looking like yet another vacant-minded, anorexic waif snob in a ridiculous outfit that no normal person would ever wear on the street, or even at a gala.

Or you could find yourself provocatively draped over the latest version of automotive prowess, or most likely handing out Chiclets at a candy convention or flyers at a mall.

No matter the bleak reality facing most model hopefuls, Marie-Eve Nadeau just showed up.

Once she was signed, she went on to grace the pages of Glamour Italy and Vogue Japan, as well as starring in Coach and Cerutti Jeans campaigns.

Elle Magazine (Canada), which featured her as the cover girl of their March 2002 issue, reported:

It was love at first sight when then-16-year-old Montreal beauty Marie-Eve Nadeau walked into the Folio Montreal Agency. This month's cover girl was offered a contract on the spot.

Two years later, Nadeau, who first appeared on the cover of Elle Quebec in 1999, is the hottest ticket going in the modelling world —hugely successful in Europe and North America.

Is this a modeling school success story? Gina said she attended one of the available schools. What did it do for her?

She shared her experience and qualified her recommendation:

I went to one of the major schools when I was 15, and believe it or not I still get work from them, but mostly just promo and trade show work, and only on occasion. Maybe 5/yr or so? (Just a guess there.)

Anyways, my take on the whole school thing is that it is there for confidence, but not for modeling careers. I learned quite a bit at the school, but it definitely was not necessary for getting into modelling, and it isn't something I put on my resume.

But I did enjoy it, and for me personally I think it was good, because I was very shy and insecure, so it really helped me there.

I only recommend it if you just happen to have lots of money that you WANT to spend on something that can be a fun learning experience, but NOT if you think it will get you into the real world of modeling.

Marie-Eve Nadeau

Some services offered by modeling schools

Fashion modeling schools are generally designed to prepare prospective models for jobs in a variety of fields such as; print photography, traditional runway exhibitions, tearoom modeling, voiceover work and commercial acting.

The model hopeful practices how to present themselves with elegance and class with regards to posture, gait, makeup application, diction, apparel, showmanship and professionalism. Business acumen is also covered, as well as the development of a marketable portfolio.

Makeup Classes

One of the things they offer is teaching on makeup. From one corporate website: "We offer training in the skilful application of makeup."

A mother who made an online inquiry on behalf of her daughter received a forum response with the following observation: "As for makeup classes, the technique varies from each photographer, and each type of shoot. Modeling schools inevitably only teach two styles of makeup."

But, more importantly, don't professional makeup artists do the makeup for professional photo-shoots, not the model?

Catwalk Classes

Another thing they offer is teaching on how to walk. But modeling agencies can teach models how to walk if they are doing local or major fashion shows. It is not complicated, and it doesn't take long to learn. Besides, catwalk modeling is the least common type of modeling. Most models are going to appear in print, not on video or at catwalk shows.

Who should attend a modeling school?

If parents or relatives want their daughters, nieces or grandchildren to go to an aspiring talent training school, it makes more sense to do so for learning about hair and makeup, to build confidence, or to learn social graces, not as preparation to start a modelling career.

Otherwise, it is an expensive lesson in learning to walk a certain way, and apply your make up a certain way. No real job leads or contacts there.

Modeling schools might theoretically be more useful to girls who already have contracts with modeling agencies.

In other words, working models could attend their finishing (modeling-related) classes after an agency has signed them.

That would of course require the approval of their modeling agency, assuming it does not already offer the same training and preparation at far less cost.

Are modeling schools a rip-off?

The main reason that many modeling schools are considered modeling scams is because they charge extreme prices for services that are not required for the reasons suggested, they lure hopefuls to expensive conventions, offer no money-back guarantees or even assurances that their services will garner any viable income within the reputable modeling industry.

Still, only you can decide, because much depends on why you are attending the school, what you are getting out of it, and what you hope it will do for you.

One girl said she wanted to attend such a school to learn about hair and makeup; she was not in the slightest bit interested in modeling.

Others attend with little interest in learning about hair and makeup; they only want to become models. Others still want to learn social graces and develop confidence.

Whatever your purpose, to figure out if it is a ripoff, you would want to compare the program with alternatives and their prices. You can learn about hair and makeup in books and magazines, and learn about makeup at makeup counters free.

Also for free you can learn what you need to model at modeling agencies. Have you learned or can you learn social graces and develop confidence anywhere else? Or do you have a lot of confidence already?

The point is it's an individual thing. Everyone has a different background.

There are teens, for example, who have more confidence than they know what to do with, they have good manners, they know enough about hair and makeup to teach others, and they have a great personality. They may find attending a model training school redundant.

Also keep in mind that most of the widely known modeling schools operate as a franchise, which means there are different owners and teachers. Some will be more experienced, more competent, more successful, and potentially more ethical than others.

I heard from one student who had already signed up and was attending classes but went to modeling agencies on her own, seeking representation, got signed, learned whatever she needed to know free from the agency, started working, earned money, then went back to the class, stood up, and said, "I have not even graduated from this school, but I have already worked. I realize I don't need to be here. This is my last class."

So don't think for a minute you have to wait until the classes are over, you have graduated, and have a certificate to prove it, before you can approach as many agencies as you want seeking representation.

School operators can't say who is agency ready, simply because they don't represent every agency and they can't possibly know what every agency requires of models before they offer representation.

You also need to be careful of schools who set up an affiliation with one agency which conveniently requires its models to complete the school's curriculum and graduate before they will offer representation.

For that one agency, you will not get representation unless you successfully complete the course. But if it is not the only agency in town, does it really matter?

You could project from this situation with one agency that all agencies require modeling school attendance and graduation before they will offer representation. But this is simply not the case.

Find the agency you want to represent you first. Then find out what they want if anything before you can be represented.

Don't start with a school; it is the wrong place to start. A school is not going to get you work; the agency can get you work, and they know if you are ready to work.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, the best advice when it comes to modeling schools is, "Save your money."

Modeling School Fees

Model schools may want your child to attend their school one weekend a month for six months. They say this is to get her ready for work in commercials, acting, and modeling.

Most of the nationally franchised modeling schools charge $2,000 or more to take some photos and put your child through a number of "finishing" classes.

One mother noted "My twins have been accepted as models by a modeling school and now they want $1,500 for each of my daughters for six classes over a six-month period."

Schools often request a down payment of around $495 at the beginning of the classes, but you may find that the total payment for the classes and the audition near the end comes closer to $2000, not to mention the over-priced regional or national conventions.

If you go to an agency, they will train you free. Most agencies do that, says the Better Business Bureau. Why pay $2,000 or more when you can get it free?

But first determine whether they even have an agency license and then be wary of agencies that charge up-front fees. Legitimate agencies sign a model and make money by taking a cut of his/her earnings from assignments.

Beware of predatory agency deductions which take an unfair percentage of your earnings.

While there is a standard 15% agency fee taken from the models' paychecks, some agencies want to take 30% from each paycheck —15% for an agency fee —and 15% for a finder's fee. Don't fall for it.

Cancellation policies

If you have already paid in full, is it possible to cancel? What are the classes like? How many have you attended?

Will you get your money back minus the amount for the classes you already attended?

If you only pay by installments, what happens if you back out of the school?

How to Get Your Money Back in Small Claims Court

Modeling Agencies are not Modeling Schools

Many modeling agencies try to distance themselves from modeling schools and prove they are reputable and legitimate by specifically noting that they are not modeling schools.

VMH Models and Minx Models are not modeling schools and we do not require that you register in modeling classes or pay fees to be represented. We earn a commission on work that you perform through our agency.

Minx Models Modeling Agency

We are not a modeling school and we do not offer any paid modeling classes at our agency.

Prestige Modeling and Talent

We do not charge a fee to talent for representation or for larger-market agency placement. We are NOT a modeling school, nor a photography studio.

Actors North West

We are not a modeling school, and do not try to sell training.

VIP Management Model and Talent Agency

We are not a modeling school, but an International placement agency.

Dream International Models

We are not a modeling school and we do not require you to register in any modeling classes or pay fees to have your portfolio posted on our site.

AD Modeling Inc.

We are NOT a modeling school. Most modeling school graduates NEVER become paid working models.

Ascension Models

Why do modeling firms say they are not modeling schools? Because modeling schools have bad reputations and the entire modeling school concept has acquired a bad reputation.

Experts say you should not pay upfront fees. Modeling schools require upfront fees.

One person observed: "Modeling schools profit when you sign up for their classes." So true. They haven't even done anything and they already have your money.

You really need to be clear about why you signed up your child for classes.

Many parents of children who went to a modeling school are basically pleased with the confidence it provided their child, but most were not pleased with the fact they never got any work.

Therefore if your only reason for signing up is to get modeling work, get your money back and look elsewhere.

On the other hand, if your only reason for signing her up was so she could learn manners, develop confidence, and become more polished, it may be worth your money and her time to attend the such classes.

Joan Scholz, director of the Cleveland office of the Docherty Agency, which represents models and actors, said: "You do not need to go to a modeling school, but they have their advantages. It's a benefit for someone who needs self-confidence."

Cindy Crawford essentially says the same thing. She said modeling schools are misnamed because they are finishing schools.

There are modeling schools which are upfront and clear about what they are and others which are not, and instead they try to make it look as if they will be able to get the aspiring models work.

Some companies say their school is a "modeling school"; others say theirs is a "finishing school"; and others still call theirs a "modeling and finishing school."

The fact is you do not need to attend a modeling school to get modeling jobs. Cindy Crawford and other supermodels never attended a modeling school.

How could they get signed with an agency without attending a modeling school? How could thousands of models get signed without attending or even graduating from a modeling school?

Simply because most aspiring models have enough self-confidence to model, the agencies do not require a certificate for representation, and the agencies teach their models the little they need to learn after they have been signed.

If your daughter wants to get a modeling job, find a modeling agency, not an expensive modeling school. Representation by a reputable modeling agency, however, will not be expensive, it will be free; and so will the training.

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