This Chinese college offers an associate’s degree for wannabe internet breakers
You can major in going viral.
A Chinese university has developed a curriculum to make students social media stars.
The Yiwu Industrial and Commercial College (YWICC) near Shanghai offers a three-year Modelling and Etiquette course poised to give wannabe internet celebrities a well-rounded education in “aesthetic cultivation,” “fashion sensitivity,” “public relations etiquette” and photography skills – and, ultimately, an associate’s degree.
The school has yet to respond to Moneyish requests for comment or to share tuition. But the YWICC’s cyber-celebrity curriculum was first reported in Fall 2015, and has built buzz as the skills classes in applying makeup, performing on camera and learning luxury brands have drawn packed classes of 33 or more students. “I like dressing myself up really pretty and take pictures. I feel like this major really suits me,” one student told AFP.
Sounds crazy? Being an internet influencer is a $10.8 billion industry in China thanks to its 700 million smartphone users, and it’s even expected to double by 2018. Social media stars, or wanghong – which translates to “hot on the web” – are big business, such as Jiang Yilei, 30, a.k.a. Papi Jiang, whose comedic video rants have earned her 23 million followers and product endorsements from New Balance and luxury watchmaker Jaeger-LeCoultre. Or Zhang Dayi, a fashion entrepreneur/vlogger who earned $46 million in 2016 – more than China’s top actresses.
And spoiler alert, but even the most recent season of “Orange is the New Black” sees inmates Maritza and Flaca become YouTube sensations when they get ahold of a cell phone (and fashion a selfie stick out of a plunger) and begin posting videos of their beauty routine behind bars.
So it’s not surprising that students are signing up to becoming overnight internet stars – even in the U.S., a quick Google search pulls tons of social media courses. Rutgers Business School offers a “Mini-MBA in Social Media,” or a $5,000 week-long program adding up to 30 hours of instruction on practical applications to platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, as well as influencer engagement. Harvard is hosting a five-day, $5,500 Digital Marketing Strategy program this September.
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