Rhode Island School of Design Pre-College Program
For those of you who read my blog regularly, you probably know all the steps that led up to my daughter’s (Grasshopper and Sensei) RISD Pre-College Program. First, we looked at Art and Design Schools’ summer programs. She got four concussions her sophomore year of high school which lead to anxiety and panic attacks.
Her dorm room was spacious. 4 students shared one bathroom with shower. Each room was set up for two.
She was enrolled in the RISD Pre-College 6 week summer program as a resident student, but after three traumatic days, we switched her to a commuter student … 5 days a week from Boston to Providence, Rhode Island!
It was not the easiest commute — about 1.5 hours each way from door to door, sometimes more — but she made it to every class and, by a miracle of god, was never tardy.
My husband and I ended up driving to Providence six times round trip during that program so we got to know the campus pretty well.
It’s located right beneath Brown University on College Hill in Providence which is a fancy part of town. RISD is on the steep slope part, and when the hill first starts to plateau, that’s when it turns into Brown University.
The Rhode Island School of Design Campus is embedded into the city of Providence though pretty compactly.
There are both beautiful old buildings and modern structures.
My daughter had classes in all of these buildings. RISD gave her some lockers in this building to store her art supplies; she needed quite a few for class and some of it was very heavy, like the large drawing board with a really heavy pad of paper.
You can feel the creativity in this part of town. It’s everywhere from the campus police to the banners which is a nice atmosphere to be in.
The campus security is called Defenders of the Arts! My other two kids delighted in the free t-shirt that they received from orientation day. My other daughter, PickyKidPix, wears hers proudly!
The program is 6 weeks and is quite intense. Classes were four days a week from 9:00am to 4:00pm or 4:30 pm. There is an art social studies class on the fifth day which is just two hours from 2:oopm to 4:00pm. There is homework assignments, midterms and finals. Sleep deprivation is normal. On campus students have the added distraction of fun things to do both on and off campus.
I went to the Pre-College Art Show which showcased the work of the 500+ summer students. Their pieces were quite impressive:
My Daughter’s Pieces from RISD Pre-College Program
My daughter said that the program which is open to rising high school juniors and seniors was an intense, stressful experience. It was not the happy place sleepaway camp that she usually does at Chimney Corners. In fact, it was a difficult decision to make. She was pretty confident that she would have landed a highly competitive spot as an LIT counselor but ultimately chose Art School to improve her technical drawing skills.
While I thought she would find her tribe, it was actually harder than I would have imagined. Many of the students are from overseas so their English proficiency varied greatly. They also tended to hang out in cliques based on their dominant language. Still, by the end of the six weeks, my daughter made a number of friends and found that they — all of them in her drawing fundamentals class — shared her obsession with drawing pens.
She wants to go back next summer as a resident student and take the illustration program. There are actually an amazing number of choices from game design to fabric design to manga. The instructors are top notch and she was challenged every day and this concentrated period of effort paid off in a leap of improved skills. My daughter said that she learned to render in 3D better but also learned to think about her piece more critically before she started. Better conceptualization before starting resulted in a better end product.
Other Art and Design Precollege Programs
Her friends have attended MICA Pre-college (Maryland Institute College of Art) and Mass College of Art Pre-college. If my daughter doesn’t return to RISD, I would want her to consider School of Visual Art’s Precollege program to try out a new school and a new city. More programs that would fit her interest in art and design include Cooper Union Precollege, Pratt Precollege, Parsons The New School Precollege, Art Center in Pasadena Precollege, SCAD Precollege, California College of the Arts Precollege, and Emily Carr Precollege.
The RISD Precollege program at 6 weeks is the longest and there are other art schools that don’t offer design that have Precollege programs that I didn’t list.
How about you? Are there any other Art and Design Precollege Programs that you think my daughter should consider? Thanks for your help!
p.s. I wanted to mention that RISD gave me a 40% refund on the total that I paid when my daughter switched from resident to commuter. I did not expect this as most summer camps do not give refunds once the camp starts but it was much appreciated!