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Taxguy
06-07-2005, 10:21 AM
Overview of my visit to Pratt I visited Pratt Institute on May 18. 2005. This is a summary of my visit.

1. Academics: Pratt is one of the oldest stand alone art schools in the US dating back to 1888. It is certainly the biggest art school with almost 4,000 students ( about half are undergraduate). It is widely considered to be one of the best art and design programs in the country. Many of their programs are ranked in the top 10 such as Interior Design, Archtecture,Industrial Design and Communication Design to name just a few. Pratt has an amazing number of majors and offerings. For example, you can major in Communication Design that has three different concentrations ( writing, illustration, and graphic design). They are also one of the only Computer Graphic Programs around with 4 different emphasis such as 2D, 3D, Interactive Media and pure fine art with experimentation. If it is art or or design related, Pratt probably has a major in it. Moreover, unlike other stand alone art program, Pratt has some strong liberal arts because they have a creative writing major, which actually seems like a very strong, interesting major.
Most of the professors at Pratt have their own businesses or had their own businesses and are considered top notch professionals in the field. Many, in fact, have writen some of the major books on the subject. Pratt also gets many notable visiting lecturers in their specialties.I should note that all professors must have office hours and most are very accessible to students. Moreover, you have professors teaching students and not generally TAs despite having a big graduate school.
Despite all this, It is slightly easier to get into Pratt than that of some other top notch art programs. Average SATs are about 1115 and average weighted GPA is 3.4. The reason for this is that Pratt is a large art school that takes more kids than that of their smaller competition. Pratt student teacher ratio, according to them is 11:1 with class sizes approximating 15-16 kids according to the tour guide.
I asked many kids about Pratt,and they all love the academics of the school. I should note that they did warn me that Pratt does try to weed out kids during foundation year. expect to be worked very very hard!
Another great thing is that Pratt allows you to take courses from many diffrent areas. You are not locked into a major or into set course offerings. This allows a great deal of flexibility for students to design their own education.
Finally, I and my wife viewed some of their finished work. My wife is a commercial interior designer of some former fame. She thought that the work produced was very professional and creative. She did like much of the work product of the students. However, we don't know if this product is typical of most students or was a result of what is the best of the best that was posted on studio walls and hallways.
I should finally note that according to Pratt, 87% of the student body returns for their sophomore year. This is almost has high as some ivy schools and just a bit less than that of RISD. Certainly, it indicates that many students like their programs enough to come back.
As you can see, I have spent a lot of time on the academics, the reason is that this is the stand out feature of the school. As a stand alone art school, I would rate Pratt's academics as an A or A+.

2.Parking: We were able to find parking both on the street and in parking lots ( for a small fee). I would n't say parking was easy,but, hey, you are in Brooklyn. Overall, we were able to get parking without paying for it. I would, however, NOT suggest that you take a car to school. There is some vandalism, and you can get around taking the train. Overall, I would give the parking situation a C+ with a recommendation not to take a care to school unless you are a commuter.

3. Food: I actually liked the cafeteria or should I say two cafeterias. One has some hot entrees such as turkey cutlets, pork loin, roast beef etc and a salid bar and sandwich bar etc. The other cafeteria has pizza, desserts, Starbucks coffee etc. You pay for what you eat. This is not an "eat all you want for one price deal," which can be pricey. My wife had a nice salid with some good grilled chicken and grilled salmon. Bordering the campus, students tell me there are lots of quality restaurants to go to that have tasty food and is reasonably priced. Overll, I would give the school food a B

4.Dorms: Frankly, dorms are dorms. These clearly weren't a standout. However, they do have several different types of dorms. You can get one type that has a bathroom for 4 students. However, the students must clean the bathroom. You can also get dorms with communial bathrooms with custodians cleaning them. All dorms have refrigerator and microwave and wireless is in most dorms. Starting fall, wireless will be omnipresent especially in all the dorms. Each dorm as a drafing board for each student, and housing is guaranteed for all years at Pratt as long as you turn in your housing form in a timely manner.
I would give the dorms a C or C+

5.Non-artistic facilites: Pratt has a nice indoor gym with 5 tennis courts, basketball courts, 200Meter running track, stat of the art weight room and nautalus type of equipment and lots of stationary bikes and tread mills. I would give this facility an A; however, there is one glaring weakness: there is no swimming pool. Pratt also has a nice student center with pool tables and similar stuff. Overall, I would give the non artistic facilites a "C+." If only they had a nice pool and better maintained buildings ( which will be discussed below)!

6. Buildings and other artistic facilities. Pratt is a school of contrasts. They have these great academic offerings but have many buildings that are old and not maintained well. RISD by contract has nice, old buildings with the emphasis on nice. With Pratt the emphasis is on old. Bathrooms had paint pealing. Tiles in a number of places needed repair. I even saw some studios where the professor posted notes warning the students to remove all art work due to the leaky ceilings! I will say in Pratt's defense, there is a lot of construction going on. Pratt is indeed trying to repair many of these problem. However, I do wonder what is taking them so long, and why they have such a long history of deferred maintenance!

I also don't want to downplay the deterioration of their academic plant. This may not affect educational quality,but if it gets any worse, it could greatly affect the quality of education, not to mention might encourage faculty to find better suited facilities. This is a school that difinitely needs a president that can attract a lot of donations.

I do tend to stick my nose where it doesn't belong ( I have to stop doing this).Bathrooms were somewhat clean but didn't have that nice deodorizing small found at Carnegie Melon. Also, all toilet paper was one ply instead of the nice two ply. This does indicate a bit of "cheapness."

In addition, their marketing and management needs a lot of improvement. For example, when I first entered the campus asking the security guard "where visitor parking was," he gave me a curt, surly answer. There were no warm fuzzies there. Moreover, when we entered the admission office, which was on the second floor, there was no sign of welcome, and no sign to the admission's office. Moreover, the admission's office secretary was very curt and also not really warm and furry. Try visiting RISD or Rochester Instutite of Technology. You will get a very different atmosphere. I think the problem is due to bad leadership at the top. However, if you check out the administration office where all the "muckity mucks" work, you will see very elaborate, well designed offices.
Frankly, I think the president has been president for far to long at Pratt! They need some new blood and better marketing, and I would bet an improved administration. Certainly, they need someone to bring in a lot of money to renovate many of the buildings or even to provide new buildings in place of the ones in existance.

7. Diversity: You are not going to get any more Diverse place than Pratt. Not only are kids from many states,but we met folks from foreign countries as well. For example, we went into a graduate interior design studio with 4 students. One came from Florida, one from Isreal, one from England and one from Australia. They noted that there are a number of kids from foreign countries. Pratt does have a world wide reputation in a number of design fields.

8. Miscellaneous: Pratt does have one other thing that makes them stand out from schools like RISD, MICA etc. Pratt actually has a nice campus. Yes, they have trees and bushes too. I saw kids playing frisbee and drawing under several trees. It's a decent sized campus too considering that the school isn't as large as many private schools. Moreover, there are all kinds of neat sculptures around the campus. This is a very nice touch.
Pratt's tuition at currently $25,000, while hefty, is a bit less than that of many private schools especially that of RISD, CMU, Syracuse and many stand along art school. Thus, even at $25,000 per year, they are sort of a bargain (gulp) They do, however, charge lots of different fees that will total around another $600 per year, not counting health insurance.
I should note that Pratt does have some combined BFA and MFA programs, which can save a lot of money for those who will go on to graduate school anyway. They currently have combined programs in art and in art education, Design and architecture and theory, critism and history of art, Library science and Juris Doctor, and other programs.
Finally, Pratt adheres to the idiotic policy of a number of schools of not allowing AP credit unless you score a "5." Be aware of this policy. Moreover, even transfer credits are limited.
Bottom Line: I loved the campus and the huge array of academic choices available. I also liked the end work product that we witnessed. I did not love the area that they are located in (although they do have a Manhattan campus for some programs) and do have a gated campus with lots of security and especially didn't like their lack of maintenance on buildings. The administration seems to need improvement too with some marketing training for all employees. I guess it's a good thing that they are near a train station that will take kids to Manhattan.

Obviously, these are my musings from one visit. You may have a different impression from your own visits.

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Axl
08-25-2005, 08:16 PM
This is an absolutely wonderful review of the school. Thankyou so much for taking your time and writting this up for the forum!

Blackwater Draw
09-11-2005, 10:37 PM
Very interesting to read...I went to Pratt in the 1970's and most of what you say was true then, too!