By Sarah Boutwell
Last week, Business Insider named SCAD the “biggest rip-off in America.”
Before you let an article like Business Insider’s upset you, remember that this comes from the Internet. The same place most unsupported claims call home.
Payscale.com, the source for the article’s statistics, included only full-time, bachelor degree holders of US citizenship in their information pool.
Other individuals who make up the majority were left out of the website’s statistical data, including part-time employees, freelancers, contract-based employees, graduate students, project based employees, self-employed alumni, alumni who found jobs in other countries, small business owners, novelists and other professionals with alternative means of income.
One must also remember that the school is 34 years old. Payscale uses a 30 year net return on investment, meaning that they are using a sample group that graduated 30 years ago, right around the time the university had just opened.
To put all of this into perspective, we must allow for the fact that the bulk of our alumni is not accounted for in Payscale’s data.
According to current information provided in the article, our writing department graduates will not be judged as successful even if they freelance for The New York Times. Graduates of the art history department working in galleries across Europe are not considered successful either. Gatherers of statistical data are seemingly ignorant to the fact that if you are any kind of artist, freelancing is going to be a big source of your income. Especially in today’s unforgiving economy, it’s a crucial way for creative types to market and support themselves.
“Your education gives you the tools you need to succeed on the job, but success is based in large part on what Jonah Lehrer calls ‘grit.’ [Students] will have the tools, but it is up to them to use them. This is how it is at every university. The best thing about SCAD is that it focuses more on getting a job than many other universities do. But marketing and networking are crucial,” says Dr. Beth Concepción, a professor in the Writing department. Payscale also excluded certain majors they didn’t have enough data for, like fashion design and illustration.
The school was also lumped in with private and public schools, arts schools and non-arts schools. In Payscale’s “Methodology and Notes” they explain:
“Art supplies are not cheap. Depending on the quality of the brand, one tube of black oil paint can cost you anywhere from $10-30.”
Kellye Lloyd, a graduate student in the film department, says that she paid for her own props, wardrobe, location rental and the necessary city permits and fees. At research-focused institutions, students don’t have to buy all their own lab equipment. “Put it this way: if the project or script requires it and you don’t already own it or can’t borrow it, then you have to buy it,” says Lloyd.
Lastly, Business Insider has a reputation for being a link bait site (controversial headlines to make you click so page view numbers go up). They also have a history of not checking their sources. The fact that they carelessly accused an educational institution of being a “big rip-off” only shows how much they value gossiping over reporting.
SCAD Admissions had this to say on their Facebook Like page:
“Our internal data on employment rates is supported by federal data: SCAD’s student loan default rate is almost two-thirds lower than the national average.”
I’m not going to tell you some stats about the unemployment rate in our country and how many students graduating in 2012 might not be able to find a job. I’m just going to say that you get out of college what you put into it. There are great professors here, great resources and a creative environment already setup that you can’t find just anywhere. Perhaps the next time an internet website chooses to rip on the school, they should choose not to rip-off their readers with unfulfilled statistical data and broad claims.Contact Sarah Boutwell.