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The Rhode Island School of Design

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Illustration major here, RISD's most popular and "famous"BrightFine Arts - Painting/Sculpture/Photography/etc
Illustration major here, RISD's most popular and "famous" major. I am an introvert, kind of submissive, quiet, anxious, and very indecisive with huge decisions. I am unstructured, and go with the flow. However I am quick to cling to the rules, and a perfectionist.

I did not really know what specific career I wanted, like most new freshmen.
It's been a year since I graduated with a 4 yr BFA, and I can say it was pretty easy to go on the wrong path due to peer pressure.

Between all the nonstop fatigue and illust+foundation work, I had NO time to think about "who I truly am". But this is the most important part of art college.

It is more important than following rules, or even playing it safe for your future's sake.
But risd's notorious for being extra structured and extra stiff with the intellectual side of art. I knew I was already like that--but turns out, it was my flaw, not my strength.

I deeply love animation, but nervously went into illustration, because that major's claim to fame is that it's "flexible" and "broad". So I thought I could "make it my own" and do tons of animation stuff by myself by picking a variety of essential electives, while staying in illust.

Don't trust that opinion.
For animation specifically, that doesn't work very well, if you're unsure and indecisive like me. Interdisciplinary study was very hard between illust and animation, so you must pick a concrete path and pick it ASAP in your RISD career. Preferably before sophomore year.

Also, true for all majors: Everyone agrees they had to "Bullshit a project idea they didn't want or hated, as long as it could be quickly executed and satisfy the teacher" more often then they wished. This left no freedom to really explore who you are, without fear. Fear of judgement ruled students, especially in Illustration. This adds to the fact that my decision was swayed too easily.

Now, back to animation:
Animation is packed and barely any classes are available for people who "aren't sure what they want to focus on yet." It was a very exclusive major, and the spots for course registration run out very fast. If you go in the major, you'll get what you need, in terms of computer program training and basic principles.

But! The animation facilities are not that great. Other schools specialize much better in animation and are more well equipped.

RISD animation is very, very experimental. They don't force this, but again it is an unsaid "peer pressure". All students tend to make their work on the grandiose, abstract, and deep side. This does not exclude the animation dept. I felt RISD animation looked down upon commercial style (what you see in disney/pixar, cartoon network, and nickelodeon). I can say I personally would have hated it even if I chose animation, because I prefer to make art that is meant for entertainment--unpretentious, accessible, humorous, and fun, yet still meaningful as well.

I was not able to learn this about myself...until I left the fine-artsy, clique-ish, and highly critical atmosphere of RISD (this is not necessarily bad for everyone, but it does create an inescapable mindset and kind of heightens one's nervousness).

Bottom line:
Not the right college for someone who doesn't know EXACTLY what they want for their future right away. Even in freshman foundation, some teachers expected us to confidently state where we wanted to work.

Not good for people with anxiety. Not very forgiving towards nervous or worrisome types.
Remember, perfectionism is different from anxiety. If being perfect makes you feel happy or adventurous, it'll suit you. If it leaves you feeling more nervous than adventurous, seek more freedom in your education.

And if you're hoping and dreaming of a college to improve your self esteem and social skills, this is NOT the one.

Another thing worth noting:
It's hard to travel to buy basic amenities in providence. It rains all the time, windy, clammy, the town is often creepily empty looking, and grocery/dorm essential/appliance shopping is often more than 20-30 mins away on foot. Add in the steep hilly landscape and you'll wish there were just a simple hardware and grocery store were right near you.

This is seriously important, as art projects require you to buy weird supplies youd never imagine.
DO NOT LET THE SCHOOL'S FAME SWAY YOUR DECISION!

4th Year Female -- Class 2013
Innovation: A, Extracurricular Activities: F
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I'm going to keep this short and sweet.Quite BrightFine Arts - Painting/Sculpture/Photography/etc
I'm going to keep this short and sweet. If you absolutely know you want to go here and are extremely passionate about pursuing your art career, go here. It's truly a great school.

Every negative review on here is mainly people who thought art school would be fun, or people who hate one small thing so they decide to bag on everything else. You have to really know you want to go here to like this school.

The surrounding town is great, the people are friendly. Yes, there are weird people, but there are everywhere. The professors will critique you A LOT. Just be prepared for it. Remember, they're there to make you a better artist.I have had a great experience here. I made great friends, I fell in love, and I have became an even more incredible artist than I was when I first got here. I highly recommend this school.

3rd Year Female -- Class 2014
Education Quality: A+, Campus Aesthetics: B
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Even with the (rare) generous merit scholarship awardedAverageFine Arts - Painting/Sculpture/Photography/etc
Even with the (rare) generous merit scholarship awarded to me, I feel that RISD is one of the biggest mistakes and worst investments I have ever made. Since my graduation I am unable to get an interview, let alone employment. For four years I have felt my brain rot as the only education available involves fellow students beginning statements with the phrase "I feel like..." Professors are adept at criticism but evasive when asked for advice. I leave RISD with the sense that I have no higher education, and I strongly suspect much of my high-school education has died of neglect. The majority of students have little to no understanding of current events despite trying to make relevant work. The trick, of course, is to make thought-provoking work without doing any thinking. That RISD so ignores the necessity of at least mediocre academic education is baffling--a typical Artist Statement by a student at RISD more closely resembles a hastily composed Yahoo! user comment than a professional statement.

Perhaps the most redeeming quality about RISD is its student body and the various potential connections a student can make. While there is no doubt that networking is important, if a school's only redeeming qualities can be reaped at a party, skip the school and go to the party. A frank word of warning: In terms of social stratification, RISD is America's own little Versailles. At RISD I was not merely a student there on scholarship--I was a peasant. I was shocked by the comfort with which teachers spontaneously ordered their students to purchase a large amount of expensive supplies during class time with no thought as to whether or not said student has any of these items already at home (off campus, half an hour one way) or (gasp!) does not have the money necessary at hand. I have regularly been forced to decide between buying supplies and food during my time at school, and have still had the unfortunate experience of being singled out by a professor in class for my financial shortcomings.*

For a school that prides itself so much on being able to dole out critique, RISD as an institution absolutely incapable to hearing it. The vote of no confidence from the faculty is not heard, the complaints from the student council are not heard; and in due time, a chipper email will be sent to every student and faculty member reassuring them that their critique has fallen on deaf ears.*I will concede this happened only once, but it was unacceptable professionally and personally just plain dickish.

Alumna Female -- Class 2000
Preparedness: F Reputation: D+
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