Hallmark Institute of Photography Closing

Hallmark Institute of Photography Closing

by Bill Chenaille

I have mixed feelings for a school that I called home for 14 years.  From 1991 to 2005, I was the Director of Admissions and Senior Career Training Coordinator at Hallmark Institute of Photography.  You couldn’t have asked for a better group of coworkers who truly loved what they did and had a genuine care for their students.

I began feeling something was amiss back in 2001 when an outside sales trainer was hired to turn what used to be a successful admissions/marketing department into a high-pressure telemarketing sales boiler room.  Instead of developing personal relationships with high school educators and students, the process simply became purchasing leads and pounding the phones for hours.  They were quickly losing the very thing that made them unique.

I believe another major contributor to the closing of schools like Hallmark Institute, Brooks Institute and several Art Institute campuses is that they are lay-overs from the 1990’s addition of the Federal Parental Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS).  This loan gave families the opportunity to borrow up to the “remaining” balance they needed that was not covered by their Federal Stafford Loans.  While it started out as a great idea, colleges soon realized that if they were to increase tuition, there was NO limit to the amount parents could put on their PLUS loans.  Bingo!  The ticket they needed to begin their out of control tuition increases.

I am always astounded when I meet graduates from other schools who have a 20 to 30 year student loan payment of $1,000 or more per month.  How in the world do they have a chance to be successful?  I quite vividly remember starting out in my photography studio and there is NO way I could have become successful with that monthly payment.

My experiences with prior photography programs was invaluable but my goal was to build an even better program.  Enter the Academy For Media Production’s advanced Photography / DSLR Video Production program.  It has absolutely everything the top schools of photography in the country have to offer but adds DSLR video and a Business Communications program that gives students the ability to navigate the professional world.

When we established our program here at AMP, I committed never to follow the old business model.  Why?  It’s simple, if your school is too expensive to run and you have to pass that cost onto the student, they will never have the freedom to take the “chance” to build a successful business.  Instead our graduates have a small student loans that can be paid off in an average of 3 years with a reasonable monthly payment.  This gives them the opportunity to take internships, or spend a few months meeting potential employers.