I’m an undergrad (rising sophomore), prospective Product Design major at Stanford University. Though I haven’t taken any product design classes yet – my freshman year was comprised of required classes for graduation and pre-requirements for engineering classes – I’ve fallen in love with the idea of Product Design. You see, I’ve always loved art. I took up digital illustration in middle school as a hobby/obsession, and I’ve always enjoyed doing design projects for friends and family (designing graphics for shirts, designing and producing my entire dorm’s yearbook). And seeing badly designed things (from the overuse of Comic Sans on street signs to products that just don’t work well or look good) actually hurts me.
After a quarter of pre-med induced angst, discovering the Stanford Product Design major seemed almost too good to be true. Classes where you were judged on creativity?? No papers, no problem sets – just sketches and prototypes? I thought it was the perfect blending of design, innovation, art, human factors, and technology. I still think it’s a pretty sweet deal.
After tooling around the internet researching ID/PD schools, though, I’ve read some criticisms of Stanford’s program that were a little troubling: too little focus on actual aesthetics and design; not enough experience in 3D modeling, sketching, presenting; too much engineering, not enough design.
MY QUESTION IS: is Stanford’s undergrad PD program so weak that I should think about transferring to a better program? My family recently moved to Ohio, and after hearing about the University of Cincinnati,'s ID program my parents have thrown down the proverbial gauntlet: “if you’re so into this ‘product design’ thing, and U of C’s so good at it, why don’t you drop out of Stanford and come here then? It will save us a ton of money.” I don’t like the idea of leaving a school I’ve come to love, but if it will truly benefit my education and career, and if PD is truly my passion and calling, I’ll strongly consider making the sacrifice and transfer.
Here’s a link to a Stanford PD student’s typical 4 year coursework. (this PD alum also has a portfolio on her site as well. I’m no judge of portfolios, but perhaps from that you can give me a good idea of the quality of the Stanford program as well.)
Thank you for reading, and for any wise words you decide to send my way! I apologize for my wordiness, but this IS something I feel strongly about. and maybe my friends are right: going to Stanford makes a person pretentious and wordy (and heavily in debt!).