Rhode Island School of Design Reviews
Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is a school I would recommend to anyone around me. Attending RISD - despite all the student loans - was the best choice I made in my life. The school truly prepares you not only for the creative world, but also for any kind of job or life you will be having. The community accepts the uniqueness of each member and supports each other to experiment and explore one's creative potentials. Everyone I met was passionate about what they were doing, and going through the similar 'agony' as a creative, was simply rewarding and satisfying. Moreover, my department - Interior Architecture (IntAR) - was an exceptionally well put together department. Focusing on concept and actually teaching us "how to think," not only taught us how to develop our own design strategies, but also equipped us with the designer-brain. This allowed me to be able to design in various fields, not just in interiors. I truly believe that this is why I was able to get into graduate school in Creative Producing. The rigor and support of experimenting and exploring in RISD will make you an all-rounded creative. Again, I can't emphasize enough of how much the opportunity of studying in RISD has changed my life overall.
RISD offered a really critical lens on design; students had a strong foundation in articulating form and answering abstract and often difficult prompts. My education made me very comfortable with ambiguity, and constantly parsing out the "why" in my work. Ultimately, the education prepares you to make as a means of thinking and critique. As far as design schools go, it's less vocational and industry-driven; this means it's more on you to prepare the right portfolio for your post-degree plans.
I transferred into RISD, so I can't speak to their foundation year program. I transferred directly into sophomore year of Industrial Design. To be honest, I really disliked my first year at RISD. I loved the skills-based metal- and wood-working classes, and the teachers and shop techs are all amazing. The required ID Design Principles studio was hell for me. I hated the projects, and the culture of the studio was "if you're not miserable, you're not working hard enough." Remember - college is as much about the work you produce as it is personal growth. Sometimes at RISD it felt like a definitive choice: time for homework (or work for the sake of working) versus extracurriculars, clubs, jobs, fun off-campus stuff...it's a whole different vibe than my previous university. So basically, make your projects be about something you love, then your time is really worth it. That being said, I stuck it out and had an amazing junior year. Find teachers you relate to and take their courses, talk to them as much as you can. A huge part of your education will come from your classmates. A lot of what you do (or don't) learn at RISD depends on how hard you work for it, which can be difficult at times--for example, learning some software programs, getting to know how to take good photos of your work, things like that. RISD does have a good deal of ego surrounding it. A lot of the students are from wealthy families, and there's a pretty obvious socio-economic gap (or there was to me, as one of the few students who heavily relied on financial aid, work-study, and loans). I did have to put up with some bullsh*t from the administration, both in my department and with student accounts, and sometimes you can definitely see how RISD is run by artists, for better or worse. Bottom line: I made some of my best friends here, and learned a lot about myself, my design skills, and my values as an artist. If you can afford it, RISD is worth it, but prepare to stand up for yourself and the education you want. I graduated two months ago and am still job-hunting, so hopefully the brand-name education is worth it in the end. Good luck!