Solid Programs in Graphic Design/Communication Design

I am looking for suggestions of colleges or art schools to consider for my D in GD/Communication Design, outside the standards: Parsons, Pratt, FIT, Mica, Art Center, Calarts, Otis, and VCU. We are new to the art school world and desperately need suggestions!

Specifically, we are looking for a private college or art school with minimal general education requirements (so that she can get right into learning and the work), quality instructors, and on campus housing for at least her freshman year.

She is currently a junior, a great student with a 3.97 GPA, but not a great test taker with a 1300 SAT. I am concerned about her chances of getting in to the standard art schools with enough merit aid to make it affordable- within the 30-40K range, and feel like we need to consider some other options.

Any suggestions of Solid GD programs worth checking out? It feels like we are in a place of extremes with art schools on one side that we may not be able to afford and the better traditional colleges where she would need a SAT of 1410 of higher to get in.

I’m not an expert, but I have been helping my son these past 18 months to get trained enough for a strong portfolio for Graphic Design. He’s a senior and applied to 12 schools, and so far, he has been accepted to 8 of them (waiting to hear back from the remaining four, which includes his top choices). He applied to the more globally known ones as well as more regionally known ones. We are in NJ and tried to stay within driving distance to be more cost-effective in the long run…if not for location, he would have applied to CalArts and Ringling as well. The 12 are Pratt, PrattMWP, RISD, VCUarts, MICA, Cooper Union, MassArt, Rutgers (Mason Gross), Parsons, SVA, MassArt, and SAIC. He’s a 3.5 weighted GPA, only AP classes were AP Art and AP Japanese and only honors classes were the three math classes and one English class. 1330 SAT.
Pretty good portfolio, given that he’d only start taking real drawing classes (versus cartooning and anime classes) the summer before junior year. Not as incredibly detailed or fancy as someone who might have been thinking and drawing like that for years and years.

So far, of the 8 schools that accepted him, PrattMWP gave enough merit to decrease the cost of attendance to about $35K for us (with room/board), but the area is kind of a dead area…not much to do around there until the students relocate to Pratt in Brooklyn for junior/senior year. RIT included a generous grant with their merit $$, which also ended up lowering the cost to about $35K…but it’s also a very gray depressing area. SAIC and MassArt gave enough merit to lower cost to about $40sK. Accepted to VCUarts, but have not heard about merit yet, though, without merit, it’s within 40sK range. Declined SVA’s offer because it was just not enough. Rutgers for us, in-state, would be the most cost-effective because even without merit, it’s under $30K. Waiting to hear from Pratt (without having to go through PrattMWP), RISD, Parsons, and Cooper Union. Cooper Union pretty much guarantees at least half-tuition scholarships to all students, if they are lucky enough to be amongst the 7% to be accepted, and that would bring the cost of attendance, with housing, to $38K.

He did not apply to FIT because he did not want to have to reapply at the end of sophomore to get into the BFA program for GD (FIT students go in for Associates degree for the first two years, similar to PrattMWP, but PrattMWP guarantees relocation/transfer to Pratt in Brooklyn for BFA for the remaining two years, whereas FIT requires the students to reapply).

I suggest doing a lot of experimenting in the artwork. The stronger portfolios are where a lot of merit $$ for art schools go to (not as much the GPA/SAT). Cooper Union’s home test prompts were really great at getting my son to do exceptional original work…too bad it was the last school he applied to, and therefore, the only school that will see the great work. In hindsight, he should have applied EA for that one so that he could come up with great pieces for the rest of the schools. They are truly mindful prompts, and if your D has trouble thinking of pieces to make, I would look up Cooper Union hometest prompts. RISD prompts and Parsons prompts are also inspiring.

National Portfolio Day portfolio reviews are a great place to see exactly what each school wants. I highly recommend going (and it’s free). You can also tell from NPD which schools are the ones that everyone wants to go to. There will be multiple tables for those schools and taped borders to control lines. Yeah, that was fun. LOL. I also recommend applying EA when possible because more acceptances and merit seem to go out to EA students.

I hope this information was useful. Good luck to your D. I can update you when we hear back from the other schools, but I have a feeling RISD doesn’t give a lot of merit $$, Parsons is just incredibly expensive (and so is their housing), and CU is most likely a rejection.

Your post was great and super helpful. Would love an update on where your son decided to go and if he’s happy. Thanks.

Hi! My son ended up at Pratt but took a gap year last year and is now a freshman. There are definitely classes he loves and classes he is not at all thrilled about. LoL He finds there is more writing involved that he expected (history class and literacy class), so he definitely doesn’t love that (but I like that he’s getting that kind of general education, even if it is still related to art). He is slowly acclimating to a “community” feeling, especially after a year and a half of mostly virtual friendships, and that awkwardness is kind of felt by many students, but it’s getting better every week. Today, he said he felt more comfortable being himself around other people now. The school has tried to have events to get students to feel more connected.

Thanks so much. It’s great to hear he’s getting acclimated.