Modeling School Scams

How to spot and avoid modeling school scams

There are many modeling schools out there and many will promise the world in exchange for your cash. Modeling schools are notorious for using pitches and hard sells. They employ sales people to sell their services and those sales people are not the bookers and normally have no idea if you will ever be booked for a real job. Their job is to get you into their classes and not qualify whether you have any potential or not.

Most model schools charge thousands of dollars for their classes and the portfolio you will get upon completion. Usually these portfolios have nothing to do with the real world and are very generic. Many have complained that the pricey modeling portfolio that they got from the school did not  compliment the individual model or the type of jobs she may be qualified to get.  Others have said that all the girls in the class, no matter if they are 5’10 with a high fashion look or 5’0′ and commercial will get the same type of pictures.

Not all modeling schools may share the same behavior so its important to do your research before signing up.

Before going to a modeling school ask yourself this:

What value will I get from their training?

Most modeling schools employ instructors with no real modeling experience. Often times, the instructors are previous students or just people who answered a want ad in the paper.

Actually, most schools will not even tell you where to go to get work because that would get in the way of them selling you more classes. They want to keep you attending, not working.

What is it they they will teach me that I do not already know or can’t get in other ways?

Want to learn to walk? Volunteer at a community fashion show to practice on a runway.
You can practice poses and looks in front of a mirror or have a friend snap digital shots of you so you can see what the image looks like.

The experience and training they offer is not real world. The real world experience you will get will be in the real world as in shoots with photographers and meetings with an agent.


Do model bookers actually care that I went to a modeling school?


The truth of the matter is that not a single school can actually help you get modeling work. Only an agency can do that and modeling schools are not agencies. Modeling schools can not teach you to be taller or take better pictures.

They can claim to teach you how to walk, however, you can do that yourself for free and unless you have the height for runway, it is not the type of modeling you will do anyway… no matter how many classes you take. Most people who book models will not care if you went to a modeling school or not. They are simply interested in how you look on camera. Here is a video from Dateline about what you need to become a supermodel. Unfortunately,  none of what he says can be taught in a school.

Modeling schools are also notorious for attempting to sell conventions to their students. Most conventions are worthless because the many of the  agents that attend them have no interest in finding models. They are only there because they are being paid to be there. If you are one of the lucky ones who does get signed by an agent there, chances are that you would have been signed if you skipped the convention and just sent them your photos on your own.

If you want to meet the agent, set up an appointment on your own or mail in your photos.  Most agencies have a mailing address or email submission process for new models.

Do not expect to get a professional portfolio from your experience. A portfolio for any model should be tailored to that model. That can not be done on a big group where every girl is different and the MUA, Stylist and photographer must do 20 girls in one afternoon. The photos will be generic and worthless to most agents. Agents who want to see what a model looks like will arrange a test shoot tailored to the model and the look they are going for for the specific model.

If you have the money and think it may be a fun experience then by all means go for it. However, if you must scrape the money together in hopes that the experience leads to work, you may be in for a disappointment. Go directly to the work by contacting agents.

Always remember that modeling is a job best done in big markets. Unfortunately, no matter what school you go to if the work is not there, you can’t get it because it does not exist.

To get the work you will need to meet the agents and model bookers. Most of them work out of big cities and you will need to go to them. Agents will rarely pay your travel expenses or visit small town modeling schools looking for new talent. No matter what, you will need to seek them out yourself. If you have potential an agent will see it. If not, no modeling school in the world can help.


2 thoughts on “Modeling School Scams

  1. Charlene


    1. admin

      Good for you! I did not say ALL modeling schools now did I? This is about avoiding modeling school scams. If your school is not in the ‘deceptive practices’ category then you should not be getting upset at the post, but rather, getting upset at the ‘bad apples’ that plague your industry.

      Too bad the majority are entirely worthless and most agents would agree. Every modeling school has its success stories but for the majority of girls, its just a waste of money. The problem is that schools take EVERYONE and commissioned sales people tell EVERYONE they have that ‘look’ so they signup and the sales person gets paid.

      Think about it, If salespeople (who depend on making a cut of the sale – sometimes as high as 40%) had to tell girls the truth… You’re a bit too short, you’re a bit too chubby, You have severe acne, you aren’t attractive enough, sorry but you just don’t have that ‘look’, you will have a really hard time getting high fashion runway work in Arkansas, etc. How would that sales person ever pay their bills? Like I said above, if a girl wants to go to modeling school for the experience and can afford it, then more power to her. But if she is going there because she believes she will get high paying work out of the experience, she may be quite disappointed.

      I know that some modeling schools promise jobs. Some even guarantee it. Goes something like this…. “Once you are done with your classes you will be working. You have such an amazing look, We guarantee that you will be booked for fashion runway jobs”. What they didn’t tell her is that her ‘paid work’ would be a local fashion show the company puts on at the mall for the sole purpose of fulfilling that ‘guarantee’ and her pay for the show will be 50 bucks. $50 is a small price for them to pay since the classes to get that job cost thousands.

      I’m not saying that ALL schools do the above, but unfortunately, many do. So many in fact that many States created new laws to govern what they can and can’t offer. In many US States, agents are not allowed to also offer classes or photo shoots and schools are not supposed to play agent.

      here is a consumers take on modeling school scams from msnbc

      The director of Elite Models says “save your money” and about the conventions and fashion shows put on by schools “Hamil:(Elite Models) I was so heartbroken to see these lovely people with no potential parading across a stage. It made me sad.”

      Here is a quote from the Screen Actors Guild – Hansen(interviewer): So, the odds of making it big after attending one of these conventions or going to one of these acting schools are…?
      Macaluso(SAG): I would say slim to none.

      You can read the full interview here –

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