Providence, RI
Admission Difficulty
Very Hard
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Reviews 427 total reviews with an average rating of 3.7

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5 College Freshman

Academics: The thing about RISD is that you go here knowing that you will work your butt off. The workload is outstanding, the classes are much longer than most other art schools, the curriculum is more intensive, and most every professor is a professional practicing artist. There are a great array of majors, with some of the best facilities in the country (The painting department has an extremely rare ventilation system and is the best painting facility in the united states) and a rigid liberal arts program which also has concentration areas. You can study abroad, take a middle semester class in a different country, and there are tons of different opportunities for anyone here.

3 College Sophomore

Local Atmosphere: Providence has it's ups and downs. Although so areas a a little depressed, it gives the city a certain charm. Providence is unique because it has the qualities of a city but does not feel so large that you don't feel connected to the whole city. Providence as beautiful beaches and areas that also allow one to have the experience of the city and nature

4 College Sophomore

Campus Dining: The food at RISD is great for college food. There are a fair number of options plus grills that make food to order. Sushi, vegetarian and vegan options are also avaiable, making the dining halls accessible for all.

4 College Sophomore

Nightlife: The night is when RISD students come out. During the working week, students are up at all times of night so that they can complete their school work. This way of life changes during the weekend in the sense of instead of being at the studio until 4 or 5 in the morning you are out or just up. No matter what your having fun. The social life is what you make of it, if you want to party you can and if you don't well then no one is forcing you.

1 person found this useful Report
2 College Junior

Athletics: There are no varsity sports at RISD. We have our own gym which is not very substantial. We do however, have access to all the sports facilities at Brown University which includes a gym and a heated pool. There are also free Yoga classes which some students go for. All in all though athletics are not very big in RISD.

3 College Junior

Weather: The weather in Providence changes dramatically by the minute. Being close to the ocean the wind constantly keeps you guessing about the weather in the day. It is pretty cold during the winters and this can be a bit depressing in terms of having to head to school for early morning classes. The winters are also very wet. It is important to have the right boots and clothes. Alternatively instead of walking to get to class you can always take the bus which is free for RISD students. All in all the winter can be pretty depressing.
The summer and fall on the other hand are absolutely stunning and Providence is a pretty city with old architecture. The RISD buildings are spread out and you can bike around to go the various buildings and offices which keeps you fit. The streets and old houses in their New England architecture also add to the experience.

4 College Junior

Health & Safety: Safety on and off campus is good. RISD has a shuttle service called RISD Rides, that drops you to your doorstep at night. The service runs till about 3-4 in the morning.
All the buildings are safe and can be accessed only with a RISD ID card. There is also a 24 hour safety line which students can phone in case there is an emergency.
As a student you can sign up for health services/insurance which covers you for medical emergencies.

4 College Freshman

Transportation: Transportation is pretty good, you just use the bus if you need to go anywhere because everything is basically within walking distance.

4 College Freshman

Health & Safety: The safety is quite well enforced, however health services could be improved greatly because it doesn't really seem to help that much when someone comes in with a problem, and it seems like they should be open on campus 24/7 because its very inconvenient when something happens and they are closed or not available. As long as you are pretty smart about where you put your belongings and don't push your limits on drinking and partying there isn't too much to worry about in terms of theft and safety.

3 College Sophomore

Drug Safety: There are drugs at drinking at school but there's no peer pressure. If you're a part of it, you're a part of it, if you're not then you're not and that's fine. It's very down played since RISD is in no way party school and students are more accustomed to gathering with a good group of friends, especially since public safety is strict about substance and parties in dorms in general. Depending on how you interact with public safety and how often you're caught you can get a warning, be put on academic probation, or be expelled.

5 College Sophomore

Academics: Illustration is a great major to be in as you get to develop a lot of aspects of your creative process. Sophomore year you get to focus on accuracy in drawing and painting classes while your concepts class will enhance your problem solving methods. In junior and senior years you can pick the classes that appeal to you so that you can work on character development, children illustrations, continue your work in representational depictions, digital art, etc. Since art is turning more towards digital work, the curriculum does require a computer literacy course which is very helpful, but teachers will still encourage your traditional work. Another great part of the curriculum is that you're required to take out of major classes so that you can sample of forms and concepts of art. This could mean that you take a class blowing class simply because it intrigues you or you could take a graphic design class which has elements that your can apply in your illustration classes.

3 College Sophomore

Athletics: In terms of facilities RISD doesn't hold up well. There's only one gym that can hold maybe 30 people at a time plus a few rooms for exercise classes. All the basics are still there (elliptical machines, stationary bikes, urges, weights) and there never seems to be any problem with getting on a machine but if you're looking for a track, swimming pool, and other amenities you'll need to go to Brown's campus. RISD does have sport teams but since it's not a very athletic school to begin with, they're not a very big part of the school's culture and it won't be a big event to go to "the big game" on the weekend, although it is a RISD experience to go every once in a while.

4 College Sophomore

Academics: It's great that RISD puts you in your major starting immediately sophomore year. It allows a good amount of time for students to focus on technique as well as build new skills, for some that means working with new materials in a traditional manner while others explore the world of digital art. Depending on your major, the workload can be rough but it is always manageable if you plan well. One of RISD's faults is its liberal arts which leaves some students dissatisfied but they can also be very useful if you make use of the concentrations the schools offer in wiritng, history, and art history which are good starting points for some graduate school programs.

3 College Junior

Campus Dining: RISD dining has three main places to eat during work hours from about 7am - 9pm and also has a specialized food truck which makes stops near the studio spaces as a late night dining option. The food is usually good quality for the most part and accommodates for different dietary eating options. Each of the three places are strategically located so that its never too much of a walk to get to one place or another. I personally prefer the portfolio because it offers the most variety and for the best price. All interior spaces for dining are designed very well and generally allows for a very relaxing meal in between classes.

4 College Junior

Campus Housing: Since I transferred I don't know much about the freshman housing- but the upperclassmen housing is pretty nice, there are a lot of huge old colonial houses that have RISD re-appropriated as dorms.

3 College Junior

Transportation: Public busses in Providence are great, they come and go on schedule. RISD also has a SafeRide service, but it hasn't been as good recently.

4 College Freshman

Computers: Computer labs are very nice and usually pretty empty. They have very nice, large screens for working.

3 College Freshman

Campus Dining: The met is ok, but not necessarily wonderful. The portfolio however, is delicious but freshman can only eat there once a day

3 College Sophomore

Diversity: Large Asian Community – While white students are not so surprisingly the majority, Asian students are a close second. Other minorities seem to be few and far between but diversity is strong in other ways and you'll find a good range of ideas, beliefs, and creativity.

5 College Sophomore

Overall Experience: Totally awesome! The professors are great and the campus is amazing! Absolutely great experience!

5 College Sophomore

Diversity: There are students from over 35 different countries at RISD, all here with the same goal and ambition...design!

5 College Sophomore

Guys & Girls: Student at RISD come in all shapes and sizes, but they are all passionate, enthusiastic and unique! We are the most awesome!

5 College Sophomore

Overall Experience: I feel so at home at RISD. My peers are friendly and polite and everyone has such unique interests and talents. Also, people dress very well. The academics are challenging, but absolutely worth it. There are also about a million different groups and clubs that are active on campus. I feel that I've grown so much here.

1 person found this useful Report
3 College Sophomore

Transportation: Easy Enough to Get Where You Need to Go – As RISD is located in Providence, it is easy to walk just about everywhere you would really need to go. The RISD Rides program is really more helpful at night, so that you can get back to the dorms safely if you happen to be further away. During the day it's difficult to figure out the schedules, but there are stops all over campus. At a certain point in the evening though, you can call RISD Rides or Public Safety and they'll come pick you up from wherever you are. For everything else, there are the public transportation buses, which are pretty clean and fairly reliable.

4 College Sophomore

Academics: Every Teacher Is Different – Each faculty member has a unique set of skills and ways to look at things that they want to help you develop. For this reason, you will get completely different assignments from your friends. Most of the teachers are really great at what they do. Some are not quite suited to everyone learning style, but they are all concerned about their students' personal development and ability to complete an assignment on time. Overall, the academics really stretch your brain and deepen your knowledge. At the end of one year, I am making pieces that my high school self wouldn't believe. However, like a lot of things, you get out of it what you put in.


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Overall ExperienceWhat's This?

Helen Koh
Chicago, IL
Graphic Design/Painting
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Many students love and hate RISD at the same time. The workload may be extremely demanding, but RISD students are not coming to receive the typical college experience. They are coming to get in touch with a community of artists that will enrich their understanding of art as a medium. RISD students come to gain access to an amazing amount of resources and equipment, which enable them to push their art form as much as possible. They aren’t looking for the big party school or a Greek scene—they are coming here to find themselves, to be individuals, and excel in their individual talents.

RISD students work very hard and are rewarded in the end. Many feel they are prepared to enter some sort of job or pursue a way to become active professionals in their field. In many ways, RISD is like boot camp for art, but it’s also an amazing opportunity for students to make the work that they want, while learning about themselves and their surroundings in the process. Once students let go of any ideas of what college is supposed to be, they will realize that RISD is not only a completely unique and exhilarating experience, but also provides a degree that holds a lot of weight in the professional world and skills that will serve students for their entire lives. Ask any RISD student, and they will say that as much as they complain, they would never go anywhere else.

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Applicant Status At Rhode Island School of Design

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