Today, I received a pitch from a college that I found particularly odious.
One of NYU's PR/marketing firms, G.S. Schwartz & Co., sent me a marketing pitch for their art business certificate (no degree) program. The teasing subject line: "Art Business a growth field for workers chasing their passions- case study available."
It turns out that the program consists only of 19 total class sessions (the approximate equivalent of one regular college course) yet costs $2,000. The pitch invited me to interview a student in the program named Dean Harmeyer who landed an internship at Christie's. (I append the NYU pitch at the end of this blog post.)
I shook my head in derision. I've had so many clients who hold far more than a mini-certificate (for example, a BFA, MFA, or MBA in art business or other similar fields) who never earn enough to pay their student loans let alone make a middle-class living using such a degree. Yet a brand-name school like NYU descends to trying to seduce students into its program using a pitch whose rigor its own professors would dismiss as utterly invalid (a cherry-picked anecdote of one student who got an internship) to make students believe they'll likely have a real arts career if they complete the program. Of course, even when I then reviewed NYU's web page for the program, there's no information on the graduation rate, let alone the percentage of graduates are earning a middle-class income in an art-related field.
It's high time we recognize that higher education is not a beneficent national treasure but just another business and an often sleazy one at that. It's time to rage against the machine, the Higher Education Machine.
Here is the pitch I received from that PR/marketing firm hired by NYU:
From:Keith Campbell [mailto:Kcampbell@schwartz.com]
Tuesday, November 02, 2010 8:33 AM
Subject: Art Business a growth field for workers chasing their passions- case study available
The current unemployment crisis has seen many American workers refocusing their career plans. In many cases, recently laid off workers are reassessing their past jobs, and whether they were in fields that they were passionate about, or just showing up to cash a paycheck. In the pursuit of their passions, many people are looking to the arts, the business side of which is a booming industry.
I would like to offer an interview with Terry Shtob, coordinating chair of the Department of Liberal Studies and Allied Arts at New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies, and oversees programs in Arts Business, including professional certificates in Arts Administration and Art Appraisal. Terry can discuss the opportunities open to art lovers with business skills in the field.
I can also put you in touch with Dean Harmeyer, a student in both the NYU-SCPS Art Business and Art Appraisals programs who is currently interning for Christie’s. Dean can describe his transition from the music industry, which was floundering even before the global economic crisis, to the world of art business, and how he sees the prospects much brighter in the business of fine art.
I will follow up to gauge your interest in an interview with Terry and/or Dean.
For New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies
Tel: (212)725-4500 Ext. 318