RISD Precollege Program Summer 2016

RISD Pre-College Program Summer 2016

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.

RISD Rhode Island School of Design Pre-College Program

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.

RISD Rhode Island School of Design Pre-College Program

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.

RISD Rhode Island School of Design Pre-College Program

The Rhode Island School of Design Campus is embedded into the city of Providence though pretty compactly.

RISD Rhode Island School of Design Pre-College Program

There are both beautiful old buildings and modern structures.

RISD Rhode Island School of Design Pre-College Program

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.

RISD Rhode Island School of Design Pre-College Program

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.

RISD Rhode Island School of Design Pre-College Program

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.

Defenders of the Arts RISD precollege program

My other daughter, PickyKidPix, wears hers proudly!

RISD Rhode Island School of Design Pre-College Program

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:oo pm to 4:00 pm. There are 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 work was quite impressive:

My Daughter’s Pieces from RISD Pre-College Program

My Daughter's Pieces from RISD Pre-College Program
My daughter’s Drawing Fundamentals Final.
My Daughter's Pieces from RISD Pre-College Program

My daughter’s Graphic Design Final.
My Daughter's Pieces from RISD Pre-College Program

My daugher’s Graphic Design Midterm.
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.

My Daughter's Pieces from RISD Pre-College Program

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.

RISD Rhode Island School of Design Pre-College Program

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 food/housing portion 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!

RISD Precollege Program Summer 2016

p.s. More about Art Colleges from our college tours:

Visiting Pratt

Visiting Emily Carr Art + Design University in Canada

Visiting California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)

Visiting California College of the Arts

Top Art and Design Colleges

Applying to Art School: School of Visual Arts

Visiting West Coast Art Schools & Foodie Stops Nearby

Applying to RISD: Advice from Antonio Peters in Admissions

Tips for National Portfolio Day


and some fun stuff …

If you are visiting New York City, here are our cheap foodie finds.

Our NYC (Cheap) Foodie Finds

45 Art Gifts for Seriously Arty Kids (by my arty daughter)

Art Competitions for Kids and Teens

Our Art Gift Kits for Arty Kids

10 Inspirational Art Books for Arty Kids

Best Toys for Arty Kids

An Arts Studio of One’s Own

Please check out my art board in which I save art ideas for my arty daughter. It has 64,000 followers!

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Thanks so much for sharing this info, Mia! Your daughter’s art is lovely and amazing!! I’m glad that she ultimately found some people to connect with. It sounds like a very intense and rigorous program. I am so sorry to hear about her anxiety! I’ve had those panic episodes and they’re very scary and overwhelming. I hope that she’s found some good coping strategies! Hugs to her!!

  2. I didn’t realize your daughter was such a talented artist! I love her work. (Guess we know who you won’t be voting for 😉 Wish I could recommend some. I know Beth Stilborn (a blogger) is very much in touch with art and music school programs. If you want her e-mail, contact me.
    Patricia Tilton recently posted…If You Plant a Seed by Kadir NelsonMy Profile

  3. That refund is impressive! What a commute. You are a very supportive parent to drive her there and back like this, but it sounds like it made a huge difference for her. Her art is great!
    MaryAnne recently posted…5 Easy Dry Ice Experiments Your Kids Will LoveMy Profile

    • Hi MaryAnne,
      Thanks so much! My husband and I are giving ourselves half of her good grades because he got her there to the commuter rail stop in crazy traffic every morning (and getting her up is the worst part. She’s hard to wake and extremely unpleasant in the morning). I got her home which was easier because she’s in a better mood though she missed her stop a few times and that made the my commute 2.5 hours to get her in Boston. I think it was a good experience for her so I’m glad it worked out.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Cover Reveal: THE NIAN MONSTERMy Profile

  4. That sounds like a very neat experience! I’m glad it worked out! 😀
    Erik – TKRB recently posted…Review! Real or Fake? by Emily KriegerMy Profile

  5. Elle

    I work at California Institute of the Arts and am researching other art schools’ pre-college programs and stumbled upon your blog… what a wonderful experience! Thank you so much for sharing.

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge