It may sound surprising for an art school, but computers are actually a big part of most major curriculums at RISD. Many majors use CAD (Computer Assisted Design) programs in in order to prepare students for competitive job markets, as well as the different ways they may approach their art on a personal level. If you already have your own computer and printer, they are extremely handy to have at school. However, there is a chance that you will enter a major that will require you to purchase a very expensive laptop package through the school, so it is a really bad idea to buy a computer before you come. Also, even if your major does not participate in the laptop program, you may have to learn CAD programs for which there will be plenty of computers available—you would not be able to obtain the appropriate software for a personal computer.
Aside from the more major-specific labs that have certain CAD programs on them, there are general labs that students may use to type and print papers and use the Internet. These labs are equipped with several computer stations that usually have two flatbed scanners and a negative scanner and two LaserJet printers, one color, one black and white. Students who sign in and are recognized by the network may print from any computer station and get their work within a matter of seconds. Also, almost all the labs on campus are networked, which means that if the printer is down in one lab, a student may put work on the network space and print it in another lab. RISD also has a wireless network, but in order to print work, a student must send a project to the printer from a physical computer station in one of the labs. The network is fairly reliable, although it does go down from time to time. The computers in the labs are replaced every few years, and you will always have the newest versions of programs with fairly new computers. The lab resources are sufficient, and labs are rarely overcrowded.