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  • Shawn Turner

Navigating the Uncharted:A Wonderland of Expectations at Pratt Institute



When I first entered Pratt Institute, I carried a bundle of expectations woven with excitement and dreams, envisioning a wonderland of design brilliance within the hallowed halls of one of the nation's most prestigious design schools. However, the reality at Pratt proved to be a stark departure from my idyllic imagination, unraveling a narrative that challenged my initial misconceptions.


The curriculum, particularly during the foundation years, emerged as a significant source of discontent. Rather than being meticulously tailored to my major, graphic design, the curriculum presented a maze of unrelated subjects that demanded an enduring amount of time and effort. Required classes seemed like an arbitrary assortment, leaving me to question the coherence of my academic path. I found myself sitting through courses that, in a different context, I would never have considered such as sculpture, painting, English, science, and unnecessary history classes.


This divergence from the core principles of graphic design education is emblematic of a broader issue—an educational institution seemingly more focused on a pretentious money grab than on fostering the growth of a forward-thinking generation. Pratt's approach, in which graphic design majors spend a significant portion of their undergraduate programs learning about unnecessary tools that fail to prepare them for the design world, appears counterproductive.


The disillusionment with the curriculum persisted until my junior year when a genuine connection to my major finally emerged. The preceding years were marked by a blur of unrelated courses that led to questioning the very purpose of my presence in a design institute. The wonderland of design knowledge I had anticipated seemed elusive, prompting a reevaluation of my expectations.


In the face of this academic uncertainty, resilience became a guiding force. The challenges, initially disheartening, metamorphosed into catalysts for personal and academic growth. Navigating through a culture that initially felt alien became an opportunity for self-discovery. Embracing my individuality within the diverse community that Pratt offered became a crucial aspect of standing apart from prevailing norms.


Reflecting on my Pratt journey, I recognized that the initial expectations of a wonderland were indeed a false utopia. The envisioned brilliance turned out to be a mirage. Yet, the true wonder lay in the evolution of my perception, resilience, and personal growth. Pratt Institute, despite initial challenges, became a transformative landscape, where navigating the uncharted territories of academia, design, and personal identity became the essence of the experience.


In the broader context, Pratt Institute must grapple with the realization that its educational approach, with its seemingly irrelevant courses, reflects a disservice to its community of young creators. The perceived focus on financial gain rather than fostering genuine expertise raises concerns about the institution's priorities. Redirecting time and money towards technical and strategic courses, directly aligned with students' chosen career paths, could redefine Pratt's legacy, ensuring it becomes a true incubator of creative excellence.


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Art by Sofia Rodriguez


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