The Rhode Island School of Design
The Rhode Island School of Design - Comments and Student Experiences|
For freshmen year, studio classes are intense and take up eight hours three days a week. So yeah, definitely not a typical laid-back college experience. But you are with the same group of people for all three studios, so you're not suffering alone. Also, because of the small class size (around 20 or so) people can get pretty intimate about themselves in crits, particularly because the nature of art is self-expression. You learn as much from your peers as from your professors. Speaking of which, there are some profs that will change your life and some that really shouldn't be teaching at all, but that's the case with every school, so don't count that too much. Either way you will have left term with a ton of new skills and perspectives.
RISD also emphasizes the liberal arts, which as far as I know is pretty unique for an art school. Granted, the liberal arts classes here are pretty underwhelming, but you can always cross-register at Brown for various courses even if you're not a dual-degree student. Here, you don't have to sacrifice a typical university experience to study art.
A previous comment said that there's no community here, and that is simply not true. RISD does everything possible to ensure a community: the section system, the interconnected dorms, the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of majors. But whether you choose to take advantage of these things is up to you. Because of the insane workload, it is easy to isolate yourself from people around you, and many do. But even then, most people manage to make friends. There are various extracurricular student groups, and an increasing number of groups shared with Brown, so if you are proactive you can definitely get involved outside the RISD bubble.
Since the curriculum spans all different genres of art, foundation year helps to temper The Great Artistic Ego. Naturally some kids are arrogant about their work, but they usually don't outlast the beatings from half the professors. Not all the kids are friendly -- and there is definitely the perpetually looming presence of hipsters -- but there's enough diversity among people types to find your own niche, even if most of us are white or Asian.So yeah. It's hard work, but totally worth it if art is what you want to do.