What you need to know about Pratt is that many new students tend to think that art school life in the city is glamorous, a big party, and something to brag about. Its not. You probably will not even go into Manhattan unless your professor needs you to.
I am a part of the Writing for Publications program here, and am writing this because I definitely feel that there is a scarcity of information for people who are interested in the liberal arts majors (Critical and Visual Studies and Writing) here. I have decided to transfer out for next year, as many people in the program do - something admissions doesn't tell you is that our program has a notoriously low retention rate, one of the lowest in a school that doesn't exactly have the best of retention rates to begin with. However, I'll go into more of why I think that is under academics.
The best thing about the Pratt Writing Program is that you can really make your assignments what you want them to be. Because class sizes are so small and professors are so dedicated to you, you can tailor your assignments to individual interests. Prompts are generally pretty broad, although I've often gotten the impression that the only reason the curriculum for most classes makes any sense is because professors make something coherent out of structurally almost nothing. The campus is phenomenal, being one of the few legitimate campus spaces in New York City, although dorms here tend towards the dingy and poorly-lit, even by average college standards, especially upperclassman dorms. Pratt is located at the intersection of two gentrifying, mostly residential Brooklyn neighborhoods, Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, close to Bed-Stuy, which is still a somewhat dicey neighborhood but nowhere near as bad as it was decades ago. The neighborhood's character is really diverse in terms of class, age and ethnicity, which is awesome. Living in a more residential neighborhood in Brooklyn means we're away from the chaos of Manhattan, but it also means we have almost no 24-hour options and relatively few nightlife opportunities.
Pratt's administration is cited by most students as the worst thing about Pratt. I often joke that the SGA, which has obtained free museum access at most important city museums and free copies of the New York Times on a daily basis over the course of a few months, is much more efficient than the school's actual bureaucracy, which is currently in its second year of The Grand Walk Improvements Project, consisting of paving a road and building two walkways. If seeing the bursar, financial aid, or security, expect it to at minimum take up a solid 45 minutes of your time, and be berated, regardless of how insignificant the task is. Food services basically only exist because meal plans are mandatory for freshmen living on campus. Despite billboards about local foods and sustainability, institutionalized food here is subpar at best and the cafeteria produces an enormous amount of waste, including the continued and frequent use of polystyrene containers. There is no transparency for any of this, so it takes a concerted effort for any student to actually change food policies here on campus. There is an enormous amount of administrative hierarchy here. I'm lucky to be in one of the smallest majors and have occasional interaction with my department chair. But there is no transparency whatsoever when it comes to the actions of most figures who hold more power than your professor does.
Pratt is incredibly departmentalized, so most school pride is based on your major and shared classes. Or bonding over hating on the Pie Shop (the only on-campus food option open past 8:00) or the bursar. There is a very strong architecture community, because most of them basically end up eating, sleeping, and living almost exclusively in Higgins Hall by the time the first month of school is over.
The best thing about Pratt is everyone is different. I would make the school more organized, because it feels as if you're wasting your money a lot of the time. Its a decent size, I wish it was a little bigger, everyone knows everyone, or at least someone who knows that person. People are usually either impressed by going to Pratt or they have never heard of it. I spend all my time in the architecture building, because I was an architecture student. Basically, I didnt sleep and lived off of the pretzels from the vending machine my last year in school. College town, no way! We either go into Manhattan, when we really feel adventurous, or we go to the divey bars around our school in Brooklyn. And sometimes Williamsburg, the hipster capital of NYC. There is nothing usual about Pratt. My college experience is nothing like my friends at other schools. There is no school pride, actually we all dog on Pratt and would never be caught dead in a "Pratt" t-shirt or sweatshirt. That is the ultimate show of geekiness at Pratt. The school is not organized. And my graduation this year was a joke. It poured so hard and they just gave us ponchos, no tents, not moving it inside out huge gym. Our families and us were drenched. They didnt shorten any of the ceremony except for not letting us walk. Which we booed loadly and started chanting "we want to walk, we want to walk!" and they didnt let us walk.
The size of the school is great, as is the campus. Although sometimes people get mugged on the way to or from the subway it's a pretty safe area, people are just stupid! The administration could use some help, no one really listens to you and you have to ask/go back a million times or run to a bunch of places to figure out one problem. I do love the campus and the old buildings though--I think that's what attracts a lot of people. There are hilarious "campus mysteries" like the pool and did or did not someone die in it, the underground tunnels, ghosts (seriously?), etc.
Great campus; a backyard with grass and tree and Manhattan a few minutes away
Fantastic dorming facilities
Nicely prepared cafeteria food
Pratt is kind of a small school. The campus is about as big as a block by two or three blocks, and the number of students is comparative. I don't think it's too small or two big. For some, it's a cramped little space, but if that's your style or you don't care, go for it. It's in the middle of Brooklyn, and it's really nice to have a subway stop just a block or two away. The streets around the campus have everything you want, but if Manhattan is calling you can just hop on the subway. The buildings on campus are about 1,000,000 years old but they're really beautiful--but they are NOT air conditioned by any means!! The heating is pretty bad, too. The campus housing is pretty nice and fairly roomy for dorms, but in the upperclassmen dorms you MUST bring lots of Raid. (you get the picture) The most common complaint here is about air conditioning and the food. I personally don't think the food is that bad, but if you're a picky eater you'll probably hate it. There are plenty of restaurants a block over and the upperclassmen dorms have kitchens. If you're bored, you aren't getting involved--there are a billion clubs to join, yes we have Greek life, and always a free movie, pizza, stand up comedian, etc. We also have cats--millions of cats. The PrattCatts! (We're very clever at this school) That means we have at least twenty cats roaming free around campus. Some of them are really nice, and others run away, but they all want your food. They're probably my favorite part of Pratt.
The big picture of Pratt is basically, you are going to work, and you're going to work hard, or else you are not going to succeed. I'm not talking about getting A's in a class, I'm talking about making meaningful relationships with your peers and faculty, relationships that are mutually benefical and productive.
This school is run poorly. I think good intentions can only go so far. I want to know where the money is going, because it's certainly not going towards my education. Different offices and departments do not work together cohesively, it is disappinting and makes it difficult to love this school. I love this school because of my peers and teachers.
The best thing about pratt is the freedom of expression. We don't have a lot of the rules standard state colleges have. We are kind of free to go to the beat of our own drum. Which is liberating if you want to find yourself. which is what I did.
The one thing I would change is the course requirements. They are a bit too... how should I put, constrained, perhaps. Of course there is requirements you have to meet to graduate but I had to take a lot of classes that I wasn't really interested in. Also that was because I had to settle for a class I could actually get into instead of a course I wanted to take because there wasn't enough room in the class or I had a late registration time. which adds to the problem of not being able to get classes you really want.
I love the campus at Pratt. it's small but not too small and being in brooklyn is much better than manhattan I think, we have some room to roam without running into the rest of the population. we have lawns too!
When I tell people I go to Pratt the general follow-up question is "where is that? i've never heard of it" Unless you are talking to a fellow artist. Then you might get a "oh yea! I've heard of that. It's a good school."
Brooklyn is an amazing place to spend your college years. It's becoming more and more of a college town every year. Lots of young people. Lots of fun places to shop, eat, walk around, play, listen, see etc. Plus its right across from manhattan if you wish to venture out to the city. Which my friends and I do often. And sometimes you will have a class at the manhattan campus which is also good. It gets you out and about if you are stuck at home doing work a lot.
Pratt is deffinetely an interesting place to spend 4 years at. I learned a lot being here. About art, life and myself. It's not always fantastic. It's A LOT of hard work and mental strain being creative 24/7. And there is the occasional, if not frequent and dreaded, "all-nighters" but it is an experience you will appreciate if you let it and won't forget. I've made some life long friends here and learned more about other people than I ever expected. Which will help me in the long run. You learn art stuff too, and yea, it's useful (sometimes). But it's what you make of it that really matters here.
The best thing about Pratt are the people that attend here and being located in New York City. Brooklyn is great because it's so diverse and there are tons of underground and local artists that take part in the community. I've met some amazing people at Pratt and we've established great connections through out the city. People are often really open minded and always passionate about their work or the activities they take part in outside of school.
Sometimes I love Pratt. Sometimes I hate Pratt. Pratt is a mixed-bag, like any other school, and you have to make you're decision based on how you feel most of the time. In regard to art, Pratt rocks. Hardcore. Well, let's start with the bad. In a nutshell, up until sophomore year (which is the extent of my Pratt experience, thus far), the structure is as follows. Freshman year is foundation for the whole school. This means, that (with the exception of a few majors) EVERYONE takes the same classes: Drawing, 3D, Light Color and Design (LCD), as well as art history and English. Studios are 6 hours long. Expect to do homework for at least that amount of time for each. Sophomore year is foundation for your major. This, though it sounds tedious since it contains more required classes, is actually great. It gives us the opportunity to explore and learn about all the majors in our department, which both gives us all the same background and also gives us the opportunity to switch into another major, should we like it better.
The rumors are true, Pratt has a million required classes. You don't really get to choose them until your junior year. However, look at all the great things you get to learn!
Though the classes require a lot of time and work, if you stick with them you are bound to learn multitudes. I have without fail had skepticism about all of my classes in the first weeks, but as time goes on, no matter how stubborn I am, I learn and I get better. The same will happen for you.
The best thing about pratt is the small-ness. you see and know just about everyone, even just in passing. it's weird when you seen people you don't recognize. i like the feeling of the creativeness that comes from pratt. it's inspiring ..to be cheesy and all.
When I tell people I went to Pratt, they have usually heard of it. Most students complain that it is too expensive. And teachers complain about not getting paid enough. I'm now paying student loans and am trying to decide if it was worth it to go to such an expensive school. Only time will tell.
The best thing about Pratt is the professors. The writing major is taught by current, contemporary writers--some of the greatest of our time; namely, Christian Hawkey, Jen Bervin and Joshua Furst and additionally in the Fine Arts department, Jim Merrone and Lisa Bateman. These professors push students who are there to learn a craft and are open to helping them beyond their obligations in the classroom. If I hadn't had Jen Bervin encourage me to hand deliver my resume to the companies I want to work for I would have never gotten my internship at the Drawing Center, or my upcoming interview with the the president of the Penguin Group (please cross your fingers for me).
The one thing I would change is the amount of alumni donations that go toward beautifying the campus. Pratt is undergoing a serious amount of re-construction . While I was a student there, many of the buildings were falling apart--roofs were caving in, the heat didn't work, etc. Most of those problems are fixed now. We have two new security booths located at both the front and back entrances to the campus. Now it's perhaps time for the administration to focus on collecting alumni donations for scholarships for students. Private education is expensive, and sadly in the United States, probably one of the better educations you can receive, especially if you want to study a very specific trade or craft. It would be nice for education to be supplemented by donation and scholarship.
I would like to have more accountability with the administration. I'd like to know where our money is going. I'd like reliable internet in the dorms. I like the size of the school. If people have heard of Pratt they are intrigued. I spent most of my time on campus. No college town, unless you count NYC. There is almost zero school pride, which I find appalling. People bitch about how neglectful and inefficient Pratt is, but very few people recognize what it means to take pride in a school, to take care of it. I'll always remember getting escorted off the roof of a building, for shooting a video, by the NYPD.
When you tell someone that you go to Pratt they either have no idea what is it, where it is, if its a community college or private school or what you could possible study or they are affiliated with the industry somehow and are impressed. There is less than no school pride. People didn't go to Pratt to put the name on a sweatshirt they went to put it on their resume. A frequent complaint is that their studio classes are great but their liberal arts classes are a big joke and a waste of time. Students also complain that the facility itself needs some major improvements. They need to take ideas that students have from the interior design department and build what their pedagogical models explain. Its about innovation and not putting a school in a shoe factory and expecting it to work.
Best thing about Pratt? The teachers.
One thing I'd change? Where the money goes. Less aesthetic alterations more frequent technology upgrades.
School size? Just right.
Reactions to Pratt name? Generally positive. My current job arose from a connection made possible by going to Pratt.
Campus time spent? Either in my dorm room or in the fourth floor of Steuben.
"What college town?" It's New York Fucking City!
Administration? The biggest downfall of the entire school. Confusing, rude, unhelpful.
Biggest Controversy? Probably that the brand new ARCHITECTURE BUILDING burned down- AGAIN. Seriously. The building for the freaking Building Makers can't seem to not catch on fire.
School Pride? More like Department Pride. And yes, depending on the department there is a lot.
Unusual about Pratt? It's actually a good place to learn?
Memorable Experience? Having sex in the public bathroom in North Hall.
Most frequent Studen Complaints? Registering for classes and the hell that entails, most likely. Also the insane apparent waste of resources on campus for needless aesthetic changes (yes, lets rip up and re-plant the common grass and brick walkways THREE TIMES over the course of two years!)
Basically, Pratt’s campus is this really small hipster mecca right next to a not so great part of Brooklyn, and everyone who goes here is totally against gentrification. The administration is really crappy here. It’s actually a sort of running joke that, like, when your schedule says you have three classes at the same time, and one is in the Manhattan campus, “that’s Pratt for you.” I actually had to take an economics class this summer, because my advisor swore to me that I had enough credits to drop a class that I definitely didn’t have enough credits to drop. In fact, my advisor apparently thought my name was Andre for, like, a year and half. There aren’t really any amenities here on the campus itself, probably because we’re so close to the city. Like, we have one pretty not great gym (old machines, not very many of them), and a pool that the rumor is someone died in and they closed it down (it’s hidden in the Student Union, through a boiler room or something). Most of the money seems to get spent on the statues around campus, which are nice, I guess, but I remember a few years ago a window fell on some kid. Maybe work on their priorities?
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