StudentsReview :: The Rhode Island School of Design - Extra Detail about the Comment
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The Rhode Island School of Design

How this student rated the school
Educational QualityF Faculty AccessibilityF
Useful SchoolworkF Excess CompetitionF
Academic SuccessF Creativity/ InnovationF
Individual ValueA+ University Resource UseA+
Campus Aesthetics/ BeautyA+ FriendlinessF
Campus MaintenanceC Social LifeA+
Surrounding CityA+ Extra CurricularsA+
Describes the student body as:
Friendly, Afraid, Arrogant, Snooty

Describes the faculty as:
Friendly, Helpful, Arrogant, Condescending, Unhelpful, Self Absorbed

Lowest Rating
Educational Quality
Highest Rating
Individual Value
He cares more about Creativity/ Innovation than the average student.
Date: May 19 2015
Major: Design Arts - Industrial Design/Graphic Design/etc (This Major's Salary over time)
Now that a few years have passed, I can say confidently that I rather regret going to RISD I can clearly remember my first impression of my first class. I entered expecting everyone to be an amazing artist and that was hardly the case. Rather, what I discovered was a very high concentration of wealthy, entitled students with limited actual ability.

Because RISD frequently tops the list of best art schools, it is an international magnet for the offspring of the immensely wealthy. During my time there the campus celebrities included a few hollywood actors, a Saudi prince, the children of many famous figures in the art world and a member of one of the wealthiest families in Europe (actually, contrary to my general argument, she was a remarkable talent).

After graduation, and especially in today's struggling economy, what becomes very clear is that the well-connected students will be just fine. Four years out, most have found decent jobs with their parent's support. Since in most creative industries unpaid internships are considered entry-level positions, it important to have some external support while filling that role. Lately, there has been some criticism regarding this with many making the argument that working without pay makes living in the metropolitan areas unrealistic. I can say with certainty that for a significant enough subset of the population, that is not the case. In fact, quite the contrary, the leisure class is perfectly able to fill those positions, admittedly few in number, and thus from a supply side there is really no reason to offer a living wage.

As for the education at RISD, I found it rather frustrating. I belonged to the graphic design department and during my time there the curriculum was stubbornly, stupidly print focused. During my sophomore year, in a class led by a tenured instructor from Switzerland, we spent nearly the entire term designing the cookbooks.

Classes are broken up into two general categories: studios and liberal arts. Studios are typically scheduled in 6 hour blocks with two main components critique and work time. Crits can be rather grueling. The workload at RISD is exhausting with a lot of competition between student to outdo each other. It is common for people to arrive with in progress work or with something finished a few minutes before. In cases where people have scheduled several consecutive days of studio classes, there is simply not enough time to come up with well conceived projects so the feedback is generally inane and useless.

The order of a crit is also significant. Because most people get sick of talking after a few hours those who show their work first get much better feedback than those who wait till the end. Paradoxically, everyone is usually afraid to go first.

Having transferred from a University, my opinion is that the liberal arts courses are generally not very demanding. Most instructors understand that they are catering to a student body for whom academia is a secondary concern and that their employment is rather in service of the school's college accreditation. That said, the liberal arts instructors, particularly the adjuncts, are exceptionally bright and class discussions are often very lively. Occasionally, you do come across faculty who take their material seriously and as a student and RISD this can be treacherous. Since all liberal arts courses are electives you might spend all of your time reading Foucault with a large project in your degree program due the next day. Most students are savvy to this. The course on birdwatching (yes, really) always fills up very quickly, is held in a lecture hall, and has a very competitive wait list.

The best classes are usually held during the winter session term which spans a few of the years coldest months. These courses are usually lead by graduate students and so their subject matter is usually current and the pacing is often sympathetic to the realities of being a full time, self supporting student.

I often look back on my experiences and wonder if they were worth the expense and the time I spent there. Having left the east coast after graduation, virtually no one I might has heard of the school and saying that you went to college at a school for design suggests you spent your early twenties dancing in fairy dust and chasing the moonlight. Nor has my degree guaranteed against long stretches of unemployment. For a certain privileged group, it is a fine option and for everyone else, frankly, i feel for you because there are not many good options.

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