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The Double-Dipper’s Guide to Student Exploitation

They’re talented, they’re motivated, they charge 95 percent less for a haircut. A survey of the still-in-school labor pool.


Spencer Almen
Student, Columbia Bartending Agency and School of Mixology  

As a magnet for those with if-i-can-make-it-here aspirations, our city is full of smart, hungry, hyperambitious up-and-comers in every industry. With colleges, vocational schools, and apprentice programs currently in full swing, there are scores of eager professionals-in-training who, in exchange for experience and a little cash, will happily work for a fraction of what their certified/licensed/graduated counterparts might charge. You just have to know where to find them. Here, a guide to procuring the best almost-but-not-quite-professional services, from washing your Shih Tzu to fixing your marriage.

Columbia Bartending Agency and School of Mixology
For hosts who don’t want to blow their whole party budget on the guy slinging vodka-sodas, Columbia will send over bow-tied bartending students armed with a shaker set, bar towel, and corkscrew. Including a standard hourly rate and other fees, about $80 buys you four hours of tending, plus clean dishes (by comparison, a professional outfit like NYC Bartenders might charge $120 for that job). Beginner bartenders are paired with more seasoned students, and since they’re mostly young and eager, they’re generally more willing to help out with less boozy tasks: One satisfied customer recalls the “strapping young lads” behind her bar also cheerfully hauling boxes up to the roof. Savings*: 35 percent

French Culinary Institute
While the French Culinary Institute obviously focuses on French techniques, its students are not averse to taking on a rooftop barbecue, Thanksgiving dinner for fifteen, or even a kosher French feast for extra practice (and money). Most chefs-in-training charge a negotiable $15 per hour, compared with the $100 per hour many of their professional equivalents command. They’re often more flexible menu-wise than veteran caterers, too, so if you’d like them to work with mustard greens from the week’s CSA share, consider it done. They’ll also work with you on logistics, obtaining the necessary equipment and serving pieces, bringing a friend along to do dishes, and going grocery shopping. Savings: 85 percent

Academic Tutor
Columbia University Tutoring and Translating Agency
W. 116th St. nr. Morningside Dr. 212-854-4888;
Instead of shelling out upward of $100 an hour to have your eighth-grader tutored in math by a private teacher with a master’s degree, borrow an Ivy Leaguer’s brain for much less. Student tutors at Columbia are trained to deal with youngsters, who can get help in just one problem subject or their full course load. The tutors mentor middle schoolers for $65 an hour and high schoolers for $80 an hour, offering expertise in everything from French I to BC calculus, as well as SAT and ACT prep. And, for adults looking to go for a second degree, there’s MCAT, LSAT, and GRE tutoring. Savings: 35 percent

International Center of Photography
Headshots, family portraits, baby photos, weddings. These are instances that require steadier hands and better equipment than you and your point-and-shoot. Enter International Center of Photography’s pupils, who have access to state-of-the-art cameras, lenses, and printers and know how to use them. The education office will connect you with a few eager students or recent alumni that match your budget, schedule, and assignment, and before committing you can ask for examples of their work. A portrait from an up-and-comer looking to pad his portfolio, for example, might cost $120, whereas many portrait studios in the city start at $300. Savings: 60 percent

Marriage Counselor
Midtown Marriage and Family Therapy
271 Madison Ave., near 40th St., Ste. 708; 917-968-5599
Sometimes you just need to talk it out with an impartial stranger. But an impartial stranger who’s a licensed therapist can be crushingly expensive. Cash-strapped therapy seekers can get counseling from interns completing a master’s program in marriage and family therapy for $75 per 45-minute session at this midtown practice (the same office typically charges $150 to $200 for pros). Trainees meet with their clients in private but receive direction on every case behind the scenes from a licensed therapist at least once each week. Because interns only see about ten cases per week, you may get more individual attention than with a fully booked graduate. And if you don’t like your therapist-in-training, you can request a switch. While the program focuses on relationships, it welcomes individuals as well as couples for counseling. Savings: 50 to 62 percent

Music Teacher
The Juilliard School
Whether you want to improve your adolescent piano skills or learn “Viva la Vida” on the guitar, there’s likely a wunderkind at Juilliard willing to take up your cause. The future maestros’ services run about $60 an hour, about half of what pros charge. Search the Private Teacher Directory on the conservatory’s website to hook up with a student teacher.Says 59-year-old Candice Brown, who began taking lessons through Juilliard in July, “I don’t even think about the fact that my piano teacher [25-year-old Jing Yang] is so young—she’s just so accomplished.” Savings: 50 percent

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