Major: Fine Arts - Painting/Sculpture/Photography/etc (This Major's Salary over time) 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.
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