Pratt vs Parsons? How to Choose?

Hi! My daughter has been accepted to both Pratt and Parsons for next Fall. Our cost of attendance for Pratt would be $14,000 vs. $30,000 at Parsons due to scholarships, etc… Please advise on which you think is better and why. Help us make this decision. Is Parsons worth the extra money? Is Pratt the better school? She is interested in Fashion Design and Product Design. She is talented - won a Deans Scholarship to Parsons for next year. Thanks from South Carolina.

hmm… 16,000 savings a year. Hard to turn down.

I am in New York and looking to go back to school for ID at Pratt or Parsons. I have only applied to Pratt for fall, because Parsons has a special spring-entry program that would have some financial advantages for me compared to entering in fall. So I know a little more about Pratt. Here is what what I know that might help you:

Parsons is considered by many to be the top school in the country for Fashion, but Pratt is no slouch

Parsons Product Design program is not as well known as Pratt’s. Perhaps this is because of the size of the program or the history. Parsons claims they have recently made the program more “industrial” which I guess means that it is more focused on mass production.

Parsons pushes technology in its curriculum.

Look around at a few bulletin boards on the web and eventually you will run into a disgruntled Pratt student. There are a lot of gripes about the administration and disorganization. Some complain about the buildings, but one must remember that many were built in the 19th century. Most agree that the faculty is good, though. Pratt is probably not the place if you need to be led by the hand through your education. I think you have to be a bit self-directed to get the most out of it.

Another big consideration: housing. I don’t think Parsons has guarunteed housing. I am an adult with a decent income and I find it hard to deal with the NYC real estate market. I don’t know how students are able to handle this. Of course, I don’t know your situation – you may have the financial resources to deal with this.

I would think that Pratt’s campus and location would contribute to more of a sense of community.

These are all impressions – others should feel free to correct me if my info is wrong.


Thanks for your insightful remarks. I found them quite helpful.

I didn’t realize Pratt had such a good reputation in Product Design. That’s good to know. Although my daughter loves fashion, she is intrigued by Product Design. Those are her two top choices. She’s pretty mature and knows what she wants, so I’m confident she will do one or the other. Possibly both in accessories. I understand that product design skills combined with fashion design are important in this “new” field. This according to a recruiter I spoke to in NYC today.

I’ve heard that Faculty and teaching methods at Pratt are considered superior to Parsons. Something was said about teaching methods in the past at Pratt were more theoretical - but are now geared toward the pratical, which is the “wave of the future”.

I’ve also heard that portfolio’s from Pratt in general are not as strong as those from Parson’s. That Parson’s tends to be more “polished” and “better on presentation”. Not sure what this means about Pratt.

Another question I had was related to Internships. Is it easier to get them if you are a student of Parsons? Do the alum help more? Can you just as easily get an internship in the city if you are a student of Pratt? Is this where the so called “Fashion Regime” of Parsons flexes it’s muscle? I would hope a Pratt Fashion or Product Design student would have as many opportunities.

Another thing I heard is that Pratt now has a presence in Manhattan in the form of a small campus building. Does this help certain students?

As far as the buildings & any complaints for Pratt - that isn’t a problem. If a student is serious about art/education - they will spend so much time in the studio or in the city that it shouldn’t matter.

Again - your impressions were just what I was hoping for.

More comments would be much appreciated by those out there more familiar with these schools. Thanks again.

I was also going to say that it seems that the product design program at Parsons is aimed torwards product for the home environment. If you look at the list of corporate sponsored projects for product design a lot of the companies are fashion companies, so presumably projects involve jewelry, accessories, and “fashionable” housewares. There is a lot of furniture and lighting too. If you wanted to do anything industry related, for instance, medical, Pratt might be stronger.

I think you are right that Parsons profs, as a generalization, crack the whip on presentation and finish more.

Proximity to Manhattan is not really an issue in terms of internships and both schools have connections, though I would think that Parsons’ fashion connection are pretty much the best around.

I’m sure it would concern your daughter more than you to know that Parsons is about 80% female :wink:

Have you both visited? The schools have a very different “vibe”.

Yes, we have visited both schools several times. She did a summer program at Parsons last year in Product Design and loved it. She “loves” the feel of Parson’s and enjoys hopping on the subway or strolling the streets nearby to explore. I’m concerned that she won’t be as comfortable with the more closed campus environment that she will find at Pratt.

We both thought Pratt had a nice campus - but what’s up with the cats? She is allergic. We guessed it’s due to a rodent problem?

The botom line for us is more about affordability. The fact that we as parents would be saving $16,000 per year if she goes to Pratt put’s Pratt much higher on the list. Especially if all other things are fairly equal.

We don’t want her to worry about money and taking out student loans either. We expect her to pay some of her costs, but don’t want her stressing over how to pay like she would if she chooses Parsons. She would have to take out loans then to cover the extra $16k per yr (per her Dad).

As I said, it’s a tough call. She is a beautiful girl, size 0 tiny thing with ton’s of talent and fashion sense. Parson’s would be perfect for Fashion Design if only they were more affordable. If she goes to Pratt I would have to hope that the opportunities would be as good for her - that’s the dilema. Not to mention if she changes her major - then maybe Pratt would be better?

I guess I’m feeling a bit of guilt in turning down Parson’s for Fashion Design (keeping in mind that they thought enough of her to award her a Deans Scholarship) because of the money. I’m trying to justify it if we send her to Pratt instead and FACTS about both schools help to do that.

Thanks again!

i would go back to the financial aid office at parson’s and lay your situation out. financial aid is something that you have to fight for and the “bottom dollar” isn’t always so.

i really know nothing about parsons, but do a search in the student n’ schools area of this website for parsons and read everything. (but keep in mind that the people posting here are only a slice of the people in any school- it takes a certain “type” to post here.)

also keep in mind that most of what she gets out of the program, she makes herself. she is the one creating the portfolio at the end of the day (or the end of 4 years).

i’m glad you are really proud of her accomplishments, but i can not believe that being a size 0 was in there. sorry, but it just goes to show how warped our society is.

Hah! I saw that too!!!

“i’m glad you are really proud of her accomplishments, but i can not believe that being a size 0 was in there. sorry, but it just goes to show how warped our society is.”

Very stupid remark on my part - I’m not sure why I said that. You are right and I am ashamed that I did so. It has nothing to do with her talent or career; and yes - our society is warped in that regard. Forgive my stupidity in commenting on that.

As to the Financial Aid Office - I have called five times in the past few weeks. Nothing more can be done. Suggestions were made to be an RA for free housing - that would not occur until Junior/Senior year. It was suggested that she take out a private loan (the compound interest accruing would put that at over $100k in 4 years - so not a solution.

The bottom line is knowing people’s opinions of the pro’s and con’s of each school.

to tennecgirl:

Art schools are about the intangables-- the only way she will know is by going to a school and trying it out. If it doesn’t work, she will know better what she wants and can transfer to another school. Pratt and Parsons really aren’t that different (or far away) from each other. She may find a completely different path. It’s really as much about discovery as learning a craft.

It took me a couple of schools to find the right one (in both the US and Europe) and it was worth it.

What is her choice?

hello, i am currently a student of Pratt’s undergrad ID program. Another post previous to mine said that you would eventually run into a Pratt student that had some gripes about the ducation and Pratt in general. well it is true. There are many people including myself who are very frustrated with the way that pratt is run and how hard it is to get anything done. First of all the administration at the school is terrible. The problems with them are too numerous to list here, but there are many and it is my main area of concern with the school. And the facilities at the school are dated. the buildings are all late 19th century industrial warehouse buildings that have been converted into studio spaces. this makes for large spacious classrooms but they are forever cold or way too hot, all the lighting is fluourescent, and essentially things are just kind of falling apart. However Pratt’s one saving grace is the faculty. enough cannot be said about the faculty here at Pratt. most of them are very successful and are extremely good at what they do. They are forever inspiring and really give you an insight as to what the “real world” is like after school. so bottom line is that while pratt is very frustrating i am extremely happy with the education i have gotten at pratt and i am very confident going into graduation this may.

pratt vs parson? this is funny. recently on an interview for an internship this was the first question i was asked. and its broken down like this. parsons is very technical, they are more focused on typical industrial designed products and are less experimental with shape, color, ideas, etc. i guess they train you more to get a job than to explore who you are as a designer/creator/ dare i say it artist.

pratt is very focused on training you to be a very creative individual. the foundation program at pratt (drawing, color, 3d design) is unparalleled. bottom line is that it is an amzing opportunity and it has a profound effect on the way you work. pratt’s id program is also really good. they are very interested in letting you explore who you are as a designer. the core of the program is built around the 3d program, which is amazing, you learn so much about the visual language designers need to know in a very short amount of time. again an amazing program. overall pratt’s id program is structured so that you choose where you want to end up. if you want to be a corporate geek and do the 9-5 thing yoiu can stucture your education to do that. or if you want to be more of an independent soul then you can structure your education like that…bottom line is that it works.

also pratt fashion program is very good as well. parsons has a good reputation but its definately not better than FIT in manhatan if thats what she really wants, and that is much cheaper. but yes pratt’s program is no slouch, i know a bunch of fashion people and they all have internships with high end studios and they all seem to be looking forward to pretty cushy careers in the future.

and u asked aobut internships…i dont think there is any difference between getting a internship from pratt vs parsons…if you work hard and hustle you can do anything you want. i have had 3 internships…my roomates combined have had 5…so no its not a problem getting an internship at prat…just work hard, which is what you have to do to just excel at poratt anyways.

i guess in the end its a matter of opinion. i like the dirty industrialness of pratt. i think it makes you work very hard becasue you have to do about ten more steps to get anything done here but it really trains you to the fact that the world is a tough place, deal. also pratt is in brooklyn, what what. i think that if your coming to school in ny it should be brooklyn, this is very much the real nyc experience where as parsons in manhattan is all around the money and afluence of union square and washington square park…amazing but not reality…i say go to pratt…she’ll love it.

Look here:

and here

Intangibles - very good point. The problem is it’s difficult to research intangibles. Like you said, she has to try it on. She did try Parson’s during a summer session last year in Product Design and fell in love with everything. The class did plenty of exploring in the city and in Brookly, visiting galleries and manufacturers. She loved the interactive approach of her Prof (who teaches at both Pratt & Parsons).

She loves Fashion Design as well as Product Design.

Thank you so much. You had many wonderful points and thoughts about this. I found it interesting that the question was brought up in an interview.

I appreciate you pointing out both the good and the bad about Pratt. Of course, nothing is perfect. I do think the Professors are the biggest factor to consider. What you get from them and their classes and what you make of that defines how you develop in this field. Most students have talent if they get in to either school, but how they are encouraged to develop that talent can make such a difference.

I do wish ~ as most all of you do, that it was affordable. Then the choice would be less about money and more about the actual school.

Thanks again for your comments. They are helping as we try to make this decision.

Wow - Major difference. I am far from being an expert, but in general the Parsons portfolio’s knock my socks off. Both have talent - but why such a difference in presentation? Are you affiliated with either school?

You see I found a lot of the Pratt work to be more compeling. More process. Though their sample site was extremely awkward to navigate at first, I get the impression you re seeing everything. There was a lot more rough work in there, but it gives a more realistic look at the school.

While the parson’s site only shows you a little bit, and no thought process behind anything.

So, just a question, but if your daughter is figuring this out, why isn’t she in here asking the questions?

As a former student of the Pratt ID program, I must say that it is overwhelmingly disorganized. The administration suffers from a terrible case of ADD. For example, when enough students voice their disgruntled opinions and IF there is an Alpha among them who is willing to confront the right people about it; only then will a formal meeting occur in an attempt to improve the situation. The only problem being that this effort from both parties needs to be sustained over a substantial period of time. Therein lies the problem. New issues arise while the previous grudges dissipate into a fine mist. That’s not to say that one would find a comparatively Utopian existence over at Parsons. Parsons is a young program and from what I’ve heard the student body is a bit flimsy at best. I think it’s safe to say that each program has it’s strengths and weaknesses. Parsons’ being a strong network among peers upon graduating. I can’t tell you how many Parsons alumni that I’ve met who are willing make the extra effort in order to connect a friend with another Parsons graduate in order to score that sweet job.

I don’t believe that the facilities at Pratt are a major issue. If you look at what the 2nd year graduate students did with their studio, you’d think that they started their own consultancy or something. Although, I think the consensus opinion would be that the shop on the 5th floor of the main building should be destroyed and rebuilt under a new, less authoritarian regime.

As for the quality of faculty members, as is the case with any other academic institution; it is the student’s sole responsibility to figure out which members of the faculty are right for them. This isn’t something that can be dictated to the individual. It takes a great deal of investigative research and awareness of general opinion in regards to specific faculty member attributes. I think if a student is willing to put forth the effort, the four years and astronomical tuition cost might almost be worth it. Emphasis on almost.

I hope you found this helpful and may the force be with your daughter.

Regarding the earlier post with links to the Pratt and Parsons portfolios: These are not really the same type of portfolio. The Pratt link is to a service, like coroflot that gives free space to put up a portfolio. The Parsons portfolio is work that is specifically selected to promote the school. STill, I find the comparable link on Pratt’s site, a little odd: Whithout an explanation, I’m not sure what to make of the Mark Lim stuff. It looks very impressive – would like to know more about how an ID guy got involved in something that looks like heavy engineering. It’s too bad there are only 7 student samples.

Is it just me or has anyone noticed how there is kind of consistent “look” to the Parsons portfolios? Minimal, geometric, smooth, and at least one piece in the portfolio is all white. Many images seem to be photographed in the same way and this contributes to the uniform look. Not a criticism, per se, just an observation.

OH, also… SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME ABOUT THIS! I have been seeing these wild abstract transportation studies from Pratt. Like this one: There must be a class where these are assigned because I have seen quite a few similar ones. This looks great – the shapes texture and color are great – but um… how do they relate to transportation? Is there some process of distilling useful elements from these studies that can be used in a more functional way?

I attend parsons school of design. So many questions to answer…hmm

Ok all the students at our school recieve some form of housing-especially freshman-which the school really targets and helps out. there are three dorms three blocks from the school, Union Square, Loeb hall, and 13th street. I lived at loeb hall as a freshman, and I suggest that she stay there too it is a great place to meet lot sof students and all the art stores are just a block away-utrech, New york art store, and hmm the other has lost me for the sec. But i actually stay at the new dorms on 20th street and 8th ave. all the dorms are near subway stations, and 4 of the 6 are of walking distance.

the school is also growing alot. there is alot of new construction, and talk of opeing a law school also for teh New School university. also all NYU facilities are open for parsons students-as a student you get into all the museums even the moma-which has a 20 dollar entry fair. also through the school there are many internship fairs.

i found parsons to be more based around design, and designing in the world today. all assignments are based off of fundamentals ofd what you would experience in a reality sitauation at work. also all my professors are also working in the field so they all can tell you how it is and can answer your questions about everything. I think parsons has made me a better overal designer-a better speaker, thinker, and how to handle my self better-more professional.

I to was asked to go to pratt or parsons-and I think what motivated me was the loaction- you cant beat the location-everything is around there. and the advanced technology-our computer facilities are one of the most advanced and most offered thena most schools-i will find link on that fact and post-we have 8 floors of computers-and printing centers and everything.

I think your daughter if she loves both-parsons is flexibel and will let you work out so tht you can actually take classes in other majors. This is very popular. I think our fashion dept. was ranked top 5 in the world a couple yrs ago justto put that out there, if you do a search and look up all the designers that graduated-the list is endless-for fashion FIT is our compitition-not even that much. but my girl friend is a junior in fashion-and she is given so many oppurtunities. for example-

she won a contest for a company called uniqlo-for tshirt designs-and was flown to china to see her shirts biing mass produced-(this was only offered to one school in every country-parsons was the only school chosen in the us-kinda like the fashion olympics)

then a lawyer firm called into the school asking for students to work to do fashion boards for them-she did tht-

then became a finalist for a contest for a company called vinyard vines -stil has to go to her second interview

and became finalist for a gap contest/ bananna republic-and has her second interview this monday-and they work paid over teh summer-then when graduated they hire you-

this is just a couple contests-but there are tons of kids interning-michael kors, calvin klien, donna karen, etc…I actually got my two jobs from the shoe designer at the parsons fashion building-now designing for kenneth cole and another footwear company that does contracting work for many types of brands-so there are many options.

I am a junior in Communication design (has nothing to do with the fashion-or product-just to let you know that there are opportunities for all types of students)

ask her-if she loves fashion-breathes it sleeps it eats it—you get what i am saying then parsons is the no brainer-the school is like on fashion ave-40th and 7th ave 2 blocks from times square- so really its up to her and what she likes-I would recomend parsons-but would recomend pratt for product/ other than furniture-house ware stuff I think parsons is better skilled.

Our website is no good-also teh advertisements in the subway sukk too. so but that doesnt mean the school does-

++ feel free to contact me if you need anymore assistance-did you take a tour of loeb hall-if you did, my girl friend probably showed you around- she works in the office there sometimes-and gives tours her name is Jessica.

good luck

forgot-i would say 90 percent of kids at my school have no idea what coroflot is -I just happend to stumple across it by doing google searches for footwear portfolios–

its really not a good way to see what our talent pool is by checking portfolios here-I kno mine is like 2 yr old stuff-

She is 18 and a senior in high school right now. Her father says she HAS to go to Pratt. She wants to go to Parsons. I am asking the questions, because if anyone convinces me that Parson’s is better, I will make every attempt to see that she gets there.

She thinks it’s a done deal therefore has no reason to research further. I don’t want her to get her hopes up by knowing I am looking into all options.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”…