Our family trip up north this summer offered up the opportunity to spend an afternoon at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). It was a campus visit unlike any other.
The RISD Admissions office had multiple rooms packed with high school students eager to learn more. Isabelle Sanchez, Class of 2015, led my information session and is clearly passionate about her alma mater. She described RISD as an organically collaborative community where you will be surrounded by fellow students who are as passionate and eager to talk about art as you are.
A few of my key take aways from the visit:
- First year is about experimental and foundation studies – all students take two liberal arts classes per semester and are encouraged to explore (3D, charcoal drawing, spatial dynamics and more).
- You can receive your Bachelor of Fine Arts in four years or your Bachelor of Architecture in five.
- First years get first pick of classes during the five-week winter semester which could take you across the world on a study abroad program (perhaps the European Honors Program or RISD in Seoul) or to Los Angeles for an internship.
- While RISD offers >300 liberal arts courses, you can cross-register to take courses at Brown beginning your second year.
- Speaking of Brown, you can apply to get a dual degree (BA/BFA) in five years. Getting in is very competitive as you must be separately admitted to both schools and then selected by a committee. Only 15-20 students are offered the opportunity every year.
- The Nature Lab (the coolest part of the tour!) offers unmediated access to natural history specimens (puffer fish, human bones, coral and so much more) for inspiration.
- The RISD Library includes a student-curated section.
- While on a huge hill (the tour was quite the workout in the heat!), the campus is very walkable and in the heart of downtown Providence. With your RISD ID, you’ll have full bus access to the entire state.
- The MET dining hall is every vegan’s dream.
- You will apply via the Common App. In addition, you’ll submit a SlideRoom portfolio of 12-20 images of your work and complete the RISD “Assignment” (choose one of three words – Error, Forge, Verify – and create two visual responses and a written reflection). As for your essay, don’t write about art! The school knows you are interested in art and wants to learn something else about you.
Interested in art and design and wondering what else should be on your college list? Besides RISD, consider the following*:
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
California College of the Arts
California Institute of the Arts
Maryland Institute, College of Art
Moore College of Art and Design
School of the Museum of Fine Arts (MA)
North Carolina School of the Arts
Otis Institute of Art and Design
Ringling School of Art and Design
Savannah College of Art and Design
*Source: Fiske Guide to Colleges 2018