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MICA vs Pratt vs VCUArts for graphic design

DadOfArtStudentDadOfArtStudent 8 replies1 postsRegistered User New Member
My daughter is faced with the three choices, and we want to help her make an informed decision. MICA is ranked 3rd and VCUArts ranked 7th in graphic design by U.S. News. I couldn't find Pratt's graphic design ranking by U.S. News. Does Pratt have a strong graphic design program? How are the job placement opportunities for each school? I'm assuming Pratt may have an advantage because it's in New York city, is that true? What are the pros and cons of the three schools? Any input is appreciated. Thank you!
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Replies to: MICA vs Pratt vs VCUArts for graphic design

  • stones3stones3 910 replies5 postsRegistered User Member
    first off as will be pointed out here those rankings are for graduate programs MFA and VCUarts overall is ranked #2 in the entire country only behind Yale. Having said that, these are all good design programs and they flip flop rankings all the time. Our D is a GD major at VCUarts and l can tell you she has had much more opportunity than most of her friends at other well known design schools. Last summer as a soph she interned in nyc with a well know design artists which lead to more opportunities. I would say visit , for our D , she really clicked with Richmond , VA. also she is very proactive and as such she has had many opportunities, including several in NYC which isn't far from home. Good luck, one vote for VCUarts.
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  • DadOfArtStudentDadOfArtStudent 8 replies1 postsRegistered User New Member
    @stones3 Thank you! That was very helpful. Did your daughter look at other options when she chose schools? Which factors led her to choose VCUarts over the other schools?
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  • stones3stones3 910 replies5 postsRegistered User Member
    yes, she was accepted all the major top schools other than RISD(she did not apply, didn't care for it) and Cooper Union. So she visited all and liked VCUarts the most, and for the record RIT offered the biggest discount. In any respect they were all OOS so at the end of the day they were all within 5-7K of each other for us. So we told her not to consider the money , just asked to focus on where she felt the most comfortable and could have the biggest impact. So we visited VCUarts twice, once on our own and once on accepted student day. She pretty much knew she wanted to do graphic design (as she had some prior experience). She was concerned with how competitive the program is and doing well enough in foundation to get her first choice of major. But that was a blessing and it kept her working very hard all year. Well it was down to Pratt and VCUarts and she had advice from artists she knows as well as some family/industry people that had a lot of good things to say about VCUarts. I think also because it was a little different than where her friends were going and having grownup in the tristate area its a different experience. Any she was proactive from day one, has been an honor student every semester, and has had many opportunities that have all enhanced her resume. I can't say if that would have happened at another institution or not , maybe? probably? But she is in great shape for graduation next year and for our D its been a great experience. Good luck , feel free to PM if you have any questions or specifics you would want to hear about.
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  • BrooklynRyeBrooklynRye 691 replies5 postsRegistered User Member
    @DadOfArtStudent - Congratulations on some wonderful options!

    Best authority I know regarding Pratt, especially in GD, is @JBStillFlying.

    Please do not over-value the USNWR rankings you cite. First, these relate solely to graduate programs. Second, the metrics for these is highly suspect and programs are actually much, much closer than the ratings indicate. Finally, at this point these rankings are 3-4 years out of date.

    Visiting is a very powerful tool. When our D1 was deciding, we did back-to-back-to-back ASDs to give sharp contrast to each school. We literally drove down to Baltimore to visit MICA, back to Brooklyn to see Pratt, and then up to Providence to see RISD in a 3-day period. It was eye-opening.

    Other than highly portable programs such as RISD that have worldwide recognition, programs tend to be predominantly regional in their appeal. This is not to say that one cannot get a job in NYC coming from VCU or MICA, but that most often the school's outreach and strongest contacts are regional. So if your daughter very much wants to be in a particular area of the country, it is certainly worthwhile to inquire at schools regarding their internship and career outreach prospects. Most top schools will claim broad outreach, but be smart in assessing this.

    Our D1 attended the MICA precollege summer. Our main issue with the school is location. It is very isolated in a not-so-great area, and although not helicopter parents, we were definitely a bit concerned for her safety. The school is very generous with money and Baltimore is a wonderful old city. The school is not super-close to the Inner Harbor and more charming areas one may think of when thinking of Baltimore, but the city is a solid 'secondary' city with a lot of cultural and entertainment resources.

    Our D1 also did a Pratt precollege. While in Brooklyn, access to NYC is clearly a major perq. The school has tremendous internship and job placement together with lifelong access to career placement resources. It also has a worldwide recognition factor that can be very powerful during job searches and with respect to companies attending job fairs and seeking high level artists.

    In the end, it is very much about your daughter. Where will she be happy? Where will she thrive, not only as an artist, but as a person? For GD, my strongest gut is Pratt, both for it's stellar programs but even more for the opportunities that abound in the NYC metro area. Please, please reach out to JB (or perhaps JB will post!).

    Good luck with your research and decision!
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  • JBStillFlyingJBStillFlying 6551 replies22 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    ^ My D is graduating from Pratt in the spring. She has loved her time there and has had several internships and outside projects to keep her busy in addition to her school stuff. Right now she's swamped with her final senior projects and might come up for air long enough to tell us of her job prospects. We aren't worried because she manages to find work w/o putting in a whole lot of effort as it is LOL. Both Pratt and MICA are tops in graphic design in a number of ratings. I tend to rely on Animation Career Review for GD rankings but USNews is probably fine as well for overall indication of quality - you want the school to have a deep field of top programs. D was accepted to both MICA and Pratt but chose Pratt for a variety of reasons: curriculum was structured (she liked that), location was Brooklyn, campus was a "real" campus (she wanted a campus experience dedicated to art and design; Pratt is one of maybe a couple of world-class design institutes that can offer this). She did not look into VCUArts because she wasn't interested in a university program, but might do so if she ends up looking into grad. schools.

    MICA's "campus" was fine as far as I was concerned and I loved the Bolton Hill / Mt. Vernon neighborhoods of B'More, but the riots that broke out very near MICA in spring 2015 were sudden and frightening. Fortunately for us, they happened right after D had chosen Pratt. I'd say that now I wouldn't have an issue with either location and MICA did an amazing job with security and safety, keeping the parents informed, etc. I do think Pratt's in a safer area and you simply can't beat NYC for opportunity, culture, entertainment, etc.

    We looked very closely at curriculum to find the best fit. MICA is a lot more flexible and you can choose a variety of ways to specialize within a major. Pratt's GD is actually part of the interdisciplinary Com D program (graphic, illustration, advertising art) and you learn aspects of all three during your time there. My D's first semester projects incorporated advertisements, while this semester she's incorporating some illustration and direct GD work. There is a ton of overlap among these three specialities and Pratt has found that those kids graduating with conceptual and design knowledge in all three do great on the professional market. Com D is interdisciplinary but structured. If I had to compare, I'd say that MICA's curriculum reminds me more of SAIC and Pratt's more like RISD. All are great programs - a lot just depends on what you are looking for in the BFA. The best school for your D is the one that has the best combination of affordability and fit.

    For professional development / career advancement, I thought that MICA had a more "put together" program for the four years - they definitely talked about it more during our visit. Pratt was historically a bit lazy there, relying on reputation and area demand and not talking up their career counseling side (it's there, but no one my kid knows seems to use it LOL). Obviously they have a career office and job days on campus, but I think my more laid-back D would have benefitted from something more proactive and guidance-oriented. She chose Pratt more for the curriculum and figured a good portfolio would do the work for her on the job market. So far she's been correct, since she's had steady outside work since mid-sophomore year. I strongly suspect that, for the self-starter, their career services are probably fine. When D finally managed to wander in for resume help, they gave her excellent advice! In addition, her instructors were, for the most part, superb and not only taught to industry standards but gave their students direct career advice, took them on field trips to local design businesses, and so forth. So the resources are definitely there to ensure success. You might compare both schools on this front as well. Again, your D will want a program that works well for her.

    Com D is one of Pratt's strongest programs and it's competitive and demanding. D and her excellent advisor made sure to front load all her requirements so that she could graduate on time and have some great choices for studio electives once she was an upper div. student. In contrast, some of her classmates scaled back a bit on the workload during the academic year and made it up in the summers. Not a great idea because financial aid and merit don't apply to the summer term. If possible, a maximum load is best, although it's a LOT of work. The pace really picks up once you get past that foundation year.

    Don't hesitate to PM with any specific questions. Good luck to your D and congrats to her for having such terrific options!
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  • stones3stones3 910 replies5 postsRegistered User Member
    DadofArtstudent- told you someone would be along momentarily to throw shade on rankings, lol. Anyway , don't believe that career success is regional to where your school is/was. That's just not true. Any of these top design schools are all nationally recognized programs for a reason. Rather, its much more important what the student makes of their opportunity at the institution then if your neighbor knows the school or not. If its a top 10 ranked school then its known by those that matter. Example our D has had huge opportunities , been published, sold works, has been freelancing,has had great internships, and more. But some of her friends in the very same program haven't done any of that...is that the schools fault? I say school is what you make of it. That's why , go where you can have the biggest impact is my advice. good luck
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  • stones3stones3 910 replies5 postsRegistered User Member
    oh and VCUarts is obviously in Richmond , VA . and D has been working constantly with NYC companies and events as well as nyc artist. so.
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  • DadOfArtStudentDadOfArtStudent 8 replies1 postsRegistered User New Member
    @JBStillFlying @BrooklynRye @stones3 Wow, that's a treasure trove of information! I really appreciate it. I'll need time to read your posts again and digest the information. One quick question, we eliminated SAIC and Parsons after looking at their curriculums in GD, which seem to be weaker compared to Pratt, MICA and VCUarts. Just wondering if we made a mistake doing that. Thanks again!
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  • stones3stones3 910 replies5 postsRegistered User Member
    again, I would say attend the top ranked school where your child feels they can have the biggest impact. And as for world wide recognition concerns, D just attended the LA art book fair as an exhibitor so I remain confident that all these top schools have world wide recognition in the circles that count. All are good programs , but for us VCUARTS has been the right choice.
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  • stones3stones3 910 replies5 postsRegistered User Member
    dadofArtstudent- just to add to "name recognition" , d will be interning this summer at a well known media company in ny. This was an extremely competitive process for this one position. Very proud of her .So VCUART was certainly known.
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  • JBStillFlyingJBStillFlying 6551 replies22 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    @DadOfArtStudent this might be too late (can't remember whether your student was graduating or not . . .) Anyway, Parson's also has a great rep. for GD. I think the latest Animation Career Review GD rankings has it listed pretty high. All of the schools you listed are top 15, I think, so at that point it's really about Fit and Finances.
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  • BrooklynRyeBrooklynRye 691 replies5 postsRegistered User Member
    @DadOfArtStudent another thing to consider is that fully dedicated undergraduate art programs such as Pratt, RISD, and MICA, have dedicated career services and placement for art students. When you attend an art school that is part of a larger university, I don't believe there is an independent career services office. Rather, there will be a guidance counselor specializing in art careers post-grad. The representation is also not for an entire college or university dedicated to fine arts, but of a particular school that is part of a much larger university. It is important to look at overall job placement statistics post-graduation rather than to focus too much on individual success stories that may be more reflective of individual talent, proactivity and/or connections. Our daughter is interning at Amazon this summer, living in Seattle for 3 months. As much as we are proud of this achievement, we are very cognizant of the circumstance that nearly all of her fellow students at RISD also have amazing internships including at Facebook, Google, Hasbro, and a tremendously broad range of companies throughout the US and in Europe. It was exactly the promise of such opportunities, as well as the 98% job placement rate after graduation that weighed most heavily in our family decision making process for art school.
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  • stones3stones3 910 replies5 postsRegistered User Member
    edited July 2
    FYI job placements are very much a individual process which schools might help, but ultimately is a result of the individuals efforts. ALL the schools will not hesitate to claim credit for , so it would be unsurprising to see the more economically advantaged students of say a well known private school have higher employment numbers as that would certainly lend to many socioeconomic factors as well. Rather , it is very impressive when a public school has very high employment numbers. Oh and of course VCUARTS has job counslers specifically for art majors and they have been helpful for my daughter.
    edited July 2
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  • BrooklynRyeBrooklynRye 691 replies5 postsRegistered User Member
    Whereas job placement may ultimately come down to the strengths of the individual applicant, the door is often opened based on the strength of the school. In this respect, schools quite appropriately take credit and tout such access. Top prospective employers such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook, are not sending recruiters to every school. The employment statistics from private schools is largely based on the reputation of school such as Pratt, RISD, SAIC and others, on the quality of their students, and on the access to top employment provided. It does a disservice to these schools to dilute these statistics, attributing them to socio-economic elitism. Likewise, when a public school has impressive employment numbers, it should be attributed to both the school as well as to the quality of the students. Such schools are also hardly "bargains" such that the socio-economic differences put them at a stark disadvantage. There will always be parents and students with unique contacts. This is true whether the student is at a private or at a public school. But for the most part, opportunities come with the territory and success is a function of skill and talent.
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  • stones3stones3 910 replies5 postsRegistered User Member
    seriously? Rest assured many more top 1% children are attending those private schools , a fact that is just plain immoral and misleading to ignore.
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  • stones3stones3 910 replies5 postsRegistered User Member
    oh and keep **** me, , guess you have lots of time on your hands.
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  • JBStillFlyingJBStillFlying 6551 replies22 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    @stones3 - can you provide some support to your statement in post #15? It's easy to find data on the dedicated schools such as RISD, Pratt, MICA, etc. But do we know whether the income distribution of those attending schools of art and design within a state uni - VCUArts, Stamps, Tyler, etc. - is somehow different? Those schools compete on a national level and attract many of the same applicants as the privates.

    If you could post some data supporting your statement, that would be very helpful.
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  • BrooklynRyeBrooklynRye 691 replies5 postsRegistered User Member
    This is not a morality play and ethics have nothing to do with one's perception on the socio-economic demographics of undergraduate institutions. Those who can afford to go to the school of their choice, taking into account "fit" (academically, socially, and psychologically), generally go to the the perceived best school. If the "1%" are spending their money on RISD, Pratt, and MICA, they are doing so in large part based on a perception that these are the best schools. Those same patrons will quickly turn their back on any top school that loses its luster. This holds equally true for public colleges as schools such as UCLA, Michigan (the Stamps School), and the School of Visual Art & Design (University of South Carolina) which have no dearth of students from wealthier backgrounds. If you are finding a scarcity of "1-percenters" at VCU Arts, perhaps it is because the school does not generally hold the reputation of perennial elite undergraduate art schools. But it is not because the school is a public institution.
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  • stones3stones3 910 replies5 postsRegistered User Member
    sorry but fact remains VCUart along with UCLA are in fact the #2 (tied) design mfa schools in the entire country.( and blah blah blah undergrad ) That is a fact as per the HIGHLY respected USNWR. Both being publics, flies in the face of your attempt to minimize them. Are you suggesting that the 1% are sending the majority of their kids to publics??? doubtful at best. Anyway , I am overjoyed at our D success entirely based on her talent , experience and how she has made the most of her time at VCUarts. And once again to dispute with fact one posters nonsensical rhetoric, Our D has had now , two great internships in NYC , has been published twice now by NY Company, has been a participating artist and invitee to both the NY international art book fair and LA fair, has earned a grant to attend GD conference in South Korea, has sold several works and freelances for several large international companies projects. I think all of the above clearly attest to the fact that VCUarts reputation is well known and was a huge positive in all. Really is disingenuous to suggest otherwise .Now get back on the ignore list.
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  • BrooklynRyeBrooklynRye 691 replies5 postsRegistered User Member
    edited July 28
    The USNWR rankings you cite ad nauseam are solely for GRADUATE schools. They are also outdated by 4-5 years, not to mention the questionable metrics used to formulate those particular rankings.

    I am in no way attempting to minimize public schools. I am trying (apparently unsuccessfully) to point out that people investing substantial funds in an undergraduate fine arts education generally gravitate toward the perceived best value. Whereas this is heavily slanted toward dedicated art schools with international reputations such as Pratt and RISD, it is by no means limited to private institutions. Schools such as UCLA, U Michigan, and USC noted in my post immediately above are also extremely well thought of and have a large share of the 1% market.

    Yes, there are those in the 1% who for one reason or another do indeed send their children to public schools. One-percenters are not by definition profligate and may well be conscious of their expenses. There may be academic or even artistic limitations, or perhaps the parents/student are looking for a broader-based education and/or social life to be found at a mainstream university with a good fine arts program. In any case, you have yet to provide any statistical basis whatsoever for your wholly unsubstantiated claim that those in the highest economic brackets predominantly send their kids to elite private art schools as opposed to reputable public school programs.

    Your daughter's success is wonderful, worthy of all the accolades you clearly crave, but it is neither a universal experience nor a universal truth by any stretch. It is just what it is; one student's experience.

    You also cannot have it both ways. Either the school at least lends value to the student's search for internships, opportunities, and post-graduate employment or it does not. What you really want to say is that 'elite' private schools pave the way undeservedly for privileged kids while students at public schools earn everything they achieve, every step of the way, with no outside contacts or assistance. But if this is true, then your daughter could have garnered all of her stellar achievements at any public school, purely on her own initiative and talent. VCUArts has very little to do with it....
    edited July 28
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