The Ringling College of Art and Design
The Ringling College of Art and Design - Comments and Student Experiences|
Ringling works their students very hard. It's not a curriculum you can get through without being dedicated and passionate about the field. A lot of students in CA end up transfering into other majors or just dropping out. As long as you love what you are doing and you are willing to put a lot of time and effort into it, you will do fine at Ringling.
People who come here are all from different art levels and backgrounds. Students and teachers try to be kind no matter what. That being said, critiques can be harsh but the only reason for that is because everyone wants you to get better. Getting an A+ in this school is near impossible and you are told that over and over at the beginning of freshman year.
The school recently got a few new buildings. The new library is large and has many recourses at the student's disposal. There is also a new Soundstage building which will be operational starting this year. The labs have 22" cintiqs that are equipped with Adobe, Maya, 3Dmax, Zbrush and a bunch of other programs. Some Animation labs are PC Labs, not cintiq but you can always find a device to work on.
School food is almost always terrible. Don't eat at Hammond if you can help it (if you are vegetarian/vegan be careful about getting tofu or veggies from the grill section. They are grilled on the same grill as the burgers). Although the food is horrible the staff at Hammond are very nice and will try to help you as best as they can.
At Ringling you learn how to be a professional. You are expected to act a certain way and treat your assignments a certain way. The professors and friendly and want to help, but they also want to prepare you for the industry. Missing deadlines is a big no-no, being late to class will have you marked absent and if you miss 4 classes you fail. Be on top of your work and you will be fine.
Ringling has a great career services department ! They will work with people individually to make sure they know what they want and they are applying for places they will be happy at/ will make a contribution at. You start meeting with them starting freshman year and keep doing so throughout your Ringling career. They will also arrange for many studios, studio reps and artists to visit. During these visits they give presentations, answer questions and after that meet with students individually. You are certain to find internships and jobs as a Ringling student/grad as long as you do the work given to you (and more if you can) Overall Ringling does have it's negative points. It is a very competitive environment and everyone tried to be the best they possibly can. It is a great place to thrive as long as you can keep up with the coursework.
When it comes to social life, we aren't all just weird hermits. Yes most of us love anime but there are also parties every weekend, games of manhunt and capture the flag each friday, clubs, events, beach trips, and lots of stuff to do. Most of the socializing you will do will be the shenanigans you get up to with your floormates. (the dorms here are fantastic btw). The thing is, with all the work you have to do, YOU WILL be INCREDABLY BUSY. You will make lots of friends, and people at ringling are really supportive and accepting, and you can have fun, but don't let that get in the way of work. But all in all, socializing is not a problem and you won't be missing out on any fun since there's fun to be had all around.
Don't take all the negative comments too seriously. Ringling is really hard and thus it has a steap drop out rate, so a lot of people get super bitter about it and go on rants. Ringling is amazing.
But, just as a warning, Ringling pours most of its time, money, and resources into its most popular and succesful majors, thus computer animation and game art are some of the best programs that you can find in the country, meanwhile majors like fine arts and some of the design majors are left by the wayside, so be careful in choosing your career. (motion design and illustration are also very good here)
Let's start with the good- faculty here is AMAZING. Even in your first semester as a freshman, your professors will be industry professionals who are for the most part overwhelmingly kind, helpful, and excited about teaching. Since class sizes are so small (anywhere from 10-20 students in a studio), you'll form a solid personal relationship with all of your professors. It's important to keep in mind that you get out of a class exactly what you put in- if you slack off on your assignments or are disrespectful, you're not going to get any respect or extra help from your professors. (Since it is such a small school, the professors gossip a TON- one incident can give an entire department the wrong impression about you in a flash.)
Also fantastic is the caliber of guest speakers that come visit campus. Actors like Elijah Wood, Aubrey Plaza, and Justin Long have come to visit and work with the Digital Film students. Glenn Vilppu comes to work with the freshmen every year. The Digital Painting Sketch Club pulls in some incredible demo artists, from Bobby Chiu to Aaron Blaise. There's no shortage of talent among upperclassmen, either, and most are eager to meet with underclassmen and talk about their artwork.
In terms of coursework, it can be very frustrating (especially in the first year) how slow the pace is. Ringling's first year curriculum very much focuses on the absolute basics- composition, design, basic techniques. It's a very solid foundation, but it can be infuriating watching your peers at CalArts complete full animated films while you're still working on a ball bounce. However, nothing feels like busywork. Most professors are very good about explaining the teaching points behind each assignment so you know exactly what you're working to improve.
I would not recommend coming to Ringling if you are not absolutely sure of your choice in major. It is very difficult to switch majors, and most students who do will spend an extra year (and $40,000) at the school.
Ringling definitely throws most of their support behind the Media Arts (Illustration, Computer Animation and Game Art), Digital Film, and Motion Design. Most of the focus on campus goes towards promoting these five majors. Not that the other majors aren't worthwhile (for instance, Interior Design flies way under the radar but has won a ton of national awards), but you can certainly find a comparable degree at other colleges for far less money. Business of Art and Design is also a great program and has produced some graduates who go on to incredible jobs immediately after graduating.
One thing that I was startled by were the senior thesis shows at the end of the year. Although there were a few great projects, many were unexceptional- and a few were downright bad. Ringling does a great job promoting their successful students, and has proven to be even better at hiding their mediocre ones.
Activities outside of coursework are lacking, to say the least. The exceptions are a few excellent art-focused clubs (like DPSC and FEWS). Sarasota has zero nightlife, and parties around campus are rare. I cannot stress enough that if you want a traditional college experience with lots of parties and alcohol this is absolutely not the school for you! Sarasota is a charming city, but not very accessible to students without a car.
The area directly surrounding campus is not particularly savory. I have never felt unsafe on campus, but even visiting the gas station across the street can prove to be a harrowing experience. Car accidents are common, so be aware when walking or biking around and always take a friend with you.
In summary, Ringling is definitely not for everyone. I would explore other options if you enjoy having lots of free time, are unsure that you are not 100% committed to your major, or want a more traditional college experience. If you are passionate about your major, have a strong work ethic, and are prepared to be totally committed to art, this is the school for you!