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Search Results for: “RISD Design

Rhode Island School of Design (Take 2)

 

RISD (visited 5/2/19 — click HERE for the pictures and notes from my visit on 3/21/14)

RISD sculptureThis was my second visit to RISD. This visit was with a large group of counselors on tour of all the RI schools; several years ago I visited (with another counselor) when we participated in the regular info session and tour offered to families. It was like visiting an entirely different campus, and not because they had done massive renovations. They just chose to highlight/showcase totally different things. This time, we saw much more of the “downtown” part of campus along the river and we got to go into some of the studios and other spaces that we did not see on the tour – but didn’t go up the hill to see the dorm quad or other pretty areas on campus (check out the blog post from 2014 to see that stuff).  I’m very glad to have gotten both perspectives because I feel like I have a more complete picture of what the campus, the education, and the students are like.

RISD river walk 2

RISD flags along the river with some of the college buildings alongside.

All first-year students admitted to RISD take Experimental and Foundation Studies which includes two semesters each of Drawing (very traditional, 2D work), Spatial Dynamics (3D), Design, and Theory & History of Art & Design. They take a humanities class each semester (usually a literature seminar and another of their choice). During Wintersession, they choose a non-major studio elective. One student chose Digital Embroidery,

RISD studio 1

One of the “still life labs” with a huge array of specimens for students to use during their Studio classes. 

Student declare a major in February of their Foundation year. Students on the panel very much liked the program, and it was split about 50-50 for those who stuck with their original plan and those who decided to change their mind about the major during the year. They all agree that it’s an intensely rigorous first year, but RIDS boasts an impressive 93% retention rate which is not surprising given the level of commitment – academic and artistic – shown by those who are offered admission.

RISD bio studio 2

A bio-life lab for students to draw from nature – and the lamps are made by students!

Last year, RISD admitted 19% of the 4750 applicants; they are bringing in 480 students this year, one of the largest classes. Admitted students averaged 670 per section on the SAT or a 30 on the ACT. During admission, they recalculate GPA looking at core classes from the last 2 full years. They do NOT look at grades in their art classes – but instead evaluate the portfolio. They are more interested in the portfolio itself to look at the talent, effort, and creativity. The student sitting with us at breakfast said that talent alone is not the end-all. “Even if your technical work isn’t quite there yet but you’re putting in the work and the effort, the professors recognize that and see that your technical skills will get there.”

RISD Sculpture areaStudents who would like some feedback before the admission process can use http://www.aicad.slideroom.com where they can upload up to 5 images and get feedback from up to 10 people for free.

I love the Dual Degree program that’s offered jointly with Brown. Students must apply and be admitted to both schools; RISD releases decisions first and then will send the list to Brown where it goes to committee. Last year, they received 730 apps for the program and admitted 19 to yield a cohort of 15. Everyone evaluated for that program must be admitted to both schools. They live on the RISD campus for the 1st year, at Brown for the 2nd year, and then can choose for the 3rd and 4th.

RISD downtown bldgsRegardless of whether or not they’re in the joint program, students can cross-register at Brown. (There’s also a lot of club cross-over with Brown, and they can join some of the sports teams there). They can take classes at Brown as long as it fits into the schedule and gets okayed by the registrar. Despite the fact that RISD grants only BFA degrees (with the exception of the BArch degree), they also teach students the business aspect of art (legalities of copyrights, contracts, etc) and they offer the Liberal Arts through Literary Arts and Studies, History/Philosophy/Social Sciences classes, electives, and concentrations. One of the student panelists said that she came here because there was more flexibility within the majors – “I was pretty much married to the illustration major, but I got to customize it.” Another student said that she was surprised at how interdisciplinary it is and how things can cross over. She wants to go into publishing and has to deal with typeface, so she’s taken a lot of graphic design classes. Students said that they like the flexibility to try classes in other majors like Furniture, Apparel, or Industrial Design, Interior Architecture, or Film/Animation/Video in addition to more of the fine arts type of majors.

RISD library interior

The library which takes up the first two floors of this building also has a cafe, and the top floors are a dorm.

“It’s great to be in a community of people who are so interested in the same things, who are willing to help out. We’re not just doing art in class. A lot of people get overwhelmed by the workload, but you aren’t alone in that. You’re in the same group for the first semester, another for 2nd semester. You build a lot of relationships. You know people all over campus.” Students get card access to all buildings so they can (and do) work at all hours. “Campus safety will often check in if they see lights on,” said our tour guide.

RISD 1In terms of finances, RISD does not offer merit scholarships. They do offer need-based scholarships and grants which they keep in line with the cost of attendance – if the COA goes up, the scholarship goes up by the same percentage. They are also reducing hidden costs (deposits, fees, etc.). “It’s not fair to students to get hit with deposits for keys or to be told ‘surprise, you have to pay a fee up front for supplies.’ Families have to be able to plan, and if they’ve crunch numbers and tightened their belts to make this a reality for the students, they may not have the other additional money at the beginning of the semester.” Students in the Architecture program can carry their financial aid into their 5th year since that is a 5-year program.

© 2019

Rhode Island School of Design

~RISD patio and skylineRhode Island School of Design (visited 3/21/14 — Click HERE for my 2nd visit on 5/2/19)

Providence is a beautiful, hilly, historic city with unique events with plenty of options for recreation; there are lots of street performers, vendors, Gallery Nights, and more including Waterfire (started by a RISD alum), an annual event on the river running near campus. With five colleges, Providence is a college town (and has been named as the #3 Best City for Foodies).

~RISD house

A Hill House

RISD is a highly residential campus. Freshmen and sophomores must live on campus, and 70% of all students live in university housing. Freshmen are housed in a centrally located quad: the four buildings are completely connected, including underground passageways. Most rooms are doubles with occasional triples in the mix. 15 West are the student apartments located above the library and a café. The university also owns Hill Houses, old houses with loft ceilings and great views that have been renovated into dorm rooms and shared spaces. Met is the main dining hall (located in the Freshman Quad) where the Admissions Rep, a RISD alum, said that “they actually use spices. I pay money to eat there.” However, if they get tired of the campus food, there are plenty of other places in Providence to eat.

~RISD freshman quad

Freshmen Quad

The education prepares students for the professional side of being an artist – not just through career services, but through how they teach them to think and create. The academics here require a lot of problem solving and trans-disciplinary approaches. They’ve actually changed the STEM acronym to STEAM by adding “Art and Design” with the idea that ideas are useless unless they can be communicated. A lot of alums are working in STEM disciplines, collaborating with MIT students, etc. They run a full Nature lab of natural-history collections allowing students a hands-on opportunity for a variety of projects. Risk taking and creative thinking are encouraged here. Students create board games, create a solution to real world problems, etc. In Spatial Dynamics last year, students had to create “3D but functional headwear” as part of a competition, and the creations were displayed in a fashion show.

~RISD patiosBrown and RISD offer a Dual Degree; students must be admitted to both schools separately and must write an essay explaining why this program is good for them. This is a 5-year program; the first year, they live at one school and take some classes at the other; the 2nd year live at the other school at take classes at the first. After that, they alternate semesters. Right now, they have a student who is Furniture Design major at RISD and studying Music at Brown. She wants to make her own instruments.

~RISD 2

Museum

Students must declare a major by March of freshman year. The Foundation classes average 20 students; other classes average 17 students. Ceramics and Glass classes are the smallest, reflecting the size of the majors. The school offers BFA in any of the 4 year programs (apparel, ceramics, film/animation/video, furniture design, glass, graphic design, illustration, industrial design, interior architecture). The BArch degree takes 5 years. Students need to complete 42 credits in the Liberal Arts including History of Art and Visual Culture, Literary Arts and Studies, History, Philosophy, and the Social Sciences. If they want, the students can complete a concentration in Liberal Arts. Many take advantage of the cross registration option with Brown. After freshmen year, students can take whatever they want there. Languages and Environmental Sciences (especially among illustration majors) are popular options. Many students also take advantage of the Wintersession to take non-major electives, liberal arts travel courses, and internships. 72% of students do an internship; 54% did 2 or more.

~RISD mural 4Facilities are top-notch. The Museum has many more things in storage than are on display, but the curator will pull anything from storage for students to work with. The library was an old bank and redone by faculty and students and is now named as one of the “50 most amazing libraries”. Campus is compact and walkable. Although the furthest building (architecture) is only a 10 minute walk, there are shuttles around campus (nice when they don’t feel like hiking up the hill!)

Although students will be spending a lot of time on work (“You’ll spend at least as much on homework as on studio work – at least 8 hours a week,” said the tour guide), there’s active campus life beyond academics. The 70 clubs/organizations keep kids busy. They even wrote and produced “RISD The Musical” (you can check it out on YouTube). “We have sports teams, too. They’re not very good . . . except for cycling. We have a lot of hills! But we have a lot of fans. We get a little rowdy!” said the tour guide.

~RISD mural 3RISD is Common App exclusive. Applicants must upload 12-20 images of best and most recent work (done within last couple years). They also ask for 3 images from a sketchbook/journal. Separate from this are two 16×20 hard-copy Required Drawings which should be completed in 1 day, and done on paper to fold up, put in an envelope, and mailed. Drawing 1 is a Bicycle (graphic only); Drawing 2 can be 11 related images (still on 1 page), a 2-sided drawing, or a Drawing instrument. Students can also attend a National Portfolio Day; they recommend bringing a friend or family member to help stand in line since it often takes a while to get seen.

Clearly, RISD is doing something right with their education. Ninety-five percent of freshmen persist to sophomore year, and 87% graduate within 6 years. Students and alum have won 9 MacArthur Awards (kind of the Nobel Prize for artists that comes with a $500,000 award) and 50 Fulbright awards in the past 15 years.

© 2014

Johnson & Wales, Providence

Johnson and Wales, Providence (visited 4/29/19)

J&W sculptureThis is an amazing college for students wanting a solid education with hands-on components, students who want “to try new things, to succeed and even fail. We support them and help them transition.” Students start with their major on day one – but can work with their advisor to change. They can figure it out early if it isn’t the right fit. “This is the place to come if you want to learn and get a job. Students get hired.”

J&W chocolate lab

Chocolates lab class

J&W’s Providence campus is the flagship (with other campuses in Charlotte, Denver, and Miami). When students apply, they pick a campus but are accepted to all four. The school was founded by 2 women in 1914 before women were even allowed to vote – yet they started a major university as a business school to build opportunities for women and provide them with relevant skill sets in the work force. They still have strong business programs, including Equine Business Management (with Riding or Non-Riding options), Advertising & Marketing Communications, Fashion Merchandising & Retailing, and Restaurant/Food/Beverage Management.

J&W 2The Providence campus now offers 70 programs (majors vary a bit between campuses). Students are allowed to move between campuses, assuming their major is offered at the other location. The university offers Associates (Baking & Pastry or Culinary Arts) through Doctoral (Education) degrees. Students in the AS programs can roll into a related Bachelor’s program in the same or similar majors, including Food Service Management, Culinary Nutrition, Tourism & Hospitality Management, Dietetics & Applied Nutrition, or Food & Beverage Entrepreneurship.

J&W student centerThe university also continues to grow and try new things, as well. In the fall of 2019, 2 new majors are being implemented: Integrated Product Design and Comp Sci. In the fall of 2020, 4 more will begin: Sustainable Food System, Biomedical Science, Economics, and Create Your Own. They also offer accelerated Master’s Programs in areas like Addiction Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Organizational Psychology, Data Analytics, Information Security/Assurance, MBA, Global Leadership & Sustainable Economic Development, and Sport Leadership.

J&W Harborside

The Harborside campus

Classes are capped at 40 (some are capped at a lower point because of the physical work space), but class size averages only 21. Faculty members are experts in their field, many of whom have worked in the industry before coming to campus. They can help with networking, internships, and jobs. J&W has cultivated relationships with multiple companies and has over 1000 internship sites. Students can start interning as early as sophomore year (but junior year is more common).

J&W 3Providence’s campus is split into two parts about 3 miles apart (less than 10 minutes depending on traffic), and students can live on either one regardless of where their classes are held. There is a separate equine center located about 25 minutes away (actually across state lines in Massachusetts!) with regular shuttles running up there.

J&W Downcity res quad

The residential quad on the Downcity Campus

Student parking is located on the Harborside campus because of space issues, and shuttles run regularly between the two sites. We had breakfast in large meeting room in a building that has a dining hall and a res hall. Some of the students have rooms that overlook the water! This campus also has the Cuisinart Center for Culinary Excellence. Their culinary program is absolutely phenomenal! All aspects of the trade are taught. For example, students take a mixology lab: they use colored water instead of actual alcohol (“it would get prohibitively expensive to keep dumping alcohol down the drain,” said our tour guide). For their final exam, they dim the lights and blare music to mimic the industry. They have to prepare 12 drinks in 12 minutes. There’s also restaurant on site that serves lunch and dinner to just over 60 people. Students in a sophomore-level class work the restaurant and rotate through all aspects of it to learn everything from table set-up to service to food prep. The dessert comes from the Baking & Pastry labs. Students rotate through all sorts of labs; materials and uniforms (collar colors indicate different programs and progression: the lighter the color, the further along a student is) are included in tuition. Students learn how to use everything and not waste things. They use cuttings as garnish, they’ll dry and grind up leftover vegetables for powers to flavor dishes, etc.

The Downcity campus takes up 6 city blocks; the same amenities are on that campus including a pretty residential quad. They even have a pet-friendly floor! There is a bit of commuter parking at this campus, but it tends to be pricey. Providence has great arts, music, and restaurant scenes. This is a great college town with several universities nearby (including Brown, RISD, and Providence College), so places cater to students. For example, there’s a nearby event center that sells tickets at 50% off 2 hours before showtime.

© 2019

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