Parsons or Pratt?

April 14, 2010 § 4 Comments

In two weeks I will have to have mailed in my acceptance of either Parsons or Pratt, and I’m still a little bit bewildered about which school to choose. I originally was totally enamored with Parsons, but now that decision-making needs to become more finalized, I’m not exactly sure if that impression I had was totally whimsical or based on solid judgment. I mean, I do become obsessed with certain places or ideas before I know too much about them for little apparent reason (i.e. New York, Oregon, RISD, and now Parsons). Both schools are known to be good for graphic design, and the costs come out to more or less the same. Do I go with my initial gut? Do I need to analyze this a little more? (A classmate of mine said that Parsons just rolls of the tongue with a little more charm. Par-sons. As opposed to… Pratt.)

Maybe someone out there could throw in an opinion for me to mull over? Here are some pros/cons of each school.


  • 1 year instead of 2. Could be good or not. Get out of school sooner and start working as a designer sooner? Or less time to really soak up everything from the school and faculty and classmates?
  • Gave me less scholarship, but costs overall maybe $4k-8k less for the entire program (because it’s 1 year instead of 2 years), depending on whether I opt to live in the expensive school-provided housing or not. If I don’t live in their provided housing, it would be up to maybe $10k cheaper.
  • I don’t get Color Theory, or as many foundation classes (illustration, photography, less typography, etc.)
  • I do really like the open-ness of the campus and how it’s not confined to one building or one block of Union Square. Awesome neighborhood.
  • SwissMiss teaches there (I’ve had a mini crush on her blog since sometime last year. Can you have a crush on a blog?). So does Lucille Tenazas, who one of my current design instructors spoke to me quite highly of.
  • Parsons may have a slightly better reputation than Pratt. Not enough to make a world of difference, though. And reputation schmeputation, right?
  • The student work showcased on their website is very impressive.
  • Their identity is just so damn spiffy. I can’t help but let it influence me a tiny bit. (Am I a design student or what?)


  • Again, 2 years instead of 1. Their curriculum includes 2 courses each of general drawing, figure drawing, communication design, publication design, package design, and advertising design, not to mention photography, 4 courses in typography (!!!) and other classes. It’s a lot of core foundation classes. That might be a good thing, right? It kind of makes me drool a little. Don’t worry, just figuratively.
  • They’re offering me two times as much money as Parsons. No, very slightly more than two. Actually, four times more for the first year than Longy gave me for a year. That feels kind of good. It’s $4k-8k more overall total, but that’s for an extra year of classes. (Again, is it better to have a year more or a year less? I really can’t decide.) Also, they’re offering more for work study than Parsons is.
  • I could live in their housing in Brooklyn. I’m kind of enamored by the idea of Brooklyn. Not that I’m not enamored by the idea of Manhattan, too, but Brooklyn is cheaper. (The program is in Manhattan, though. Whatever.)
  • The Pratt Manhattan campus isn’t as exciting as Parsons’s. One building? Only one? Why are we separated from the Brooklyn campus?
  • The student work on their website isn’t as exciting, either.

I need to decide soon, and tens of thousands of dollars hang in the balance. No, it’s not a life or death situation, and it’s not one of those things I could potentially regret when I’m 50, and I’ll be able to pay it all off in due time… but if anyone has any advice or pearls of wisdom I would love to hear what you have to say 🙂 Thanks, friends.


§ 4 Responses to Parsons or Pratt?

  • Christopher says:

    So, where did you up ending up? I’m kind of in the same boat.

    • ksoohoo says:

      Sorry for the late response! I chose Parsons, and so far it’s been an awesome experience. Great teachers, and really talented and supportive classmates. I have one semester left, and when I think about the kind of design work I was doing a year ago before I started here, there is SUCH a huge difference.

  • John says:

    As it turns out, I’m in exactly the same boat yet another year later (and have an eerily similar list of pros and cons). Do you still feel good about your choice? I’m kind of leaning towards Parsons, and really just need someone to give me that extra nudge. Do you think the one year was enough? I’m thinking I’ll still go for the three semester track, despite being eligible for the one year fast track. Any thoughts you have would be incredibly appreciated. Thanks!

    • ksoohoo says:

      Hi John! So sorry for the late reply. I just graduated from Parsons this past December, and I do feel really good about my decision to go there. My classmates were all super talented and, most importantly, super supportive. I had a couple of teachers who I wasn’t super psyched about but also had a good number of really fantastic ones. Every school will have its shares of ups and downs, but overall I’d say that I got a really good education.

      I didn’t end up doing the one-year fast track; I stretched it out to three semesters instead, and my third semester was only part-time. This worked well for me. The first semester I needed to take 7 classes when trying to get it done in a year, and that was way too much work. I hardly slept and felt like I would get more out of the program if I didn’t kill myself during my final semester. Also, with my third semester being only part-time, I was able to juggle two internships and two classes. It was a lot of work, but definitely a lot more manageable than that first semester was!

      Good luck with your decision! And the start of your school year!

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