final decision (update:RISD and Michigan Ann Arbor)

Hi everyone,
I 'm an international transfer student (undergraduate) from china.

I’ve been admitted to several id programs includes : RISD(apr.26)/Michigan ann arbor(apr.27)/CCA/Syracuse/RIT/UIUC/OSU
wait list : PRATT/UC
and I haven’t got any updates from : GIT
rej : CMU

As an international student,I wont be able to visit any of these schools.It’s hard to tell which program is better from the website.
But luckily I found this amazing website to turn for advice.

I wish to go to a school that:

1.Have solid programs
2.easy to find internship/job opportunities(does location matters?)
3.good facilities
4.Leading the trends in design/Young and competitive atmosphere. related skills(research/business/marketing)

It will be great if you guys can give me some advice!

A few general comments:

Pick somewhere you’ll want to live for 4 (or 5 years). You want to make sure you’re going to be happy in school, and California is going to be completely different socially/culturally/thermally from the cold winters of Upstate NY (Syracuse/RIT).

I can’t stress enough it would be worth visiting the college you want to pick. Keep in mind at any of these schools you’re going to be paying at least $100,000-200,000 in tuition. Spending $2000 on a flight and a few nights in a hotel is worth it to make sure you’re making the right choice. You’ll spend 10x that amount if you decide after the first semester that you are miserable and want to change schools. Plus you should make sure the environment is a place you want to be.

1 - University vs art school is up to you and your personal preferences. I wanted to go to a university (Virginia Tech) because I wanted a school that had a football team, and where not everyone was an art student. Art students are a “unique” group of people, and frankly I found myself spending more time with non-designers during my time at school than I did with other ID students. Generally at a University you’ll have more input from other programs and chances for collaboration with students of other disciplines, which can be a benefit. But if you love the art school type then
2- Location is less important from an employment perspective . It’s a global community and most networking will happen through contacts at your school, along with your willingness to network at events like IDSA conferences. At the end of the day, a good portfolio is more important than where you currently live. There are ID jobs all over the country.
3 - No idea about this.
4. Realistically most people who have MFA’s in ID don’t have a bachelors. In my experience, those candidates that I’ve seen who have both a BA and MFA in ID were generally not taking the career very seriously during their bachelors years, and wouldn’t be employable after their BA. The expectation is much higher for an MFA student and again, in my opinion I don’t care how much schooling or what degree you have. If you have a great portfolio I’d want to hire you. If you have a crap portfolio and a wall of diplomas and research papers on your resume, you’re going into the trash bin.
4 -

Thanks for your reply,Mike.Your have been really helpful!

I’m still in university in china for now,but I’ll try to visit these school.

I know wether if I can become a good designer is 80% depends on how hard I work.
And now I just want to choose a school which has a strong ID program.

1.From your point of view ,which school offer better program and which of them is leading the trend?
2.In the process of learning,I think it’s very important to see some good design with your own eyes.If I choose UIUC/OSU ,would it be hard for me to go to shops with good design products?

Thanks again!

I received accept letters from RISD yesterday and Michigan Ann Arbor’s today!
I’m probably going to RISD.
But is ID program practical there?Is graduates there very competitive in job field?

Hi Alice1234,

I am an undergrad in RISD now – I will respond in more detail soon.

RISD is nice in that you are able to take a lot of different courses depending on your interest.

That being said, it can be a tough if you don’t know what you want to do. For example, I am into more traditional ID and found it frustrating that I had to take classes outside of ID to fulfill requirements. After sophomore year (the first ID year) there isn’t a whole lot of focus on technical skills (esp. visual communication and computers, though you can learn a lot about traditional materials like ceramics, wood, casting, etc.). This just means that you will be forced to do things on your own, but maybe the forced initiative isn’t a bad thing. In hindsight, I should have looked more about what I wanted to do in Industrial Design before coming, but I do not regret the decision … I will give this a little more though and get back to you here. Feel free to post / pm me with any questions!

Hi Robbie,

Thanks for your reply!

RISD is my dream school and I’m really surprised and trilled when I received the mail!

I’ve studied ID for 2 years in China.Although I’m not determined about what I want to design in the future, I feel like I’ve found my interest in house ware/furniture.

I think it’s really cool that we can take courses outside of ID!Just the thought of it makes me feel excited!I also hoped that I can take photography class there.

The only thing I’m worrying about is the tuition.It’s so expensive and I feel bad that my parents are paying so much money for me.

And I’m wondering:1.How is the social life/activities in RISD?
2.Have you ever take class in Brown?
3.what do you think is the shortage of this program?

That is cool that you have studied before! They have been known to be picky about transferring credits from other schools but I think you should be able to opt out of the sophomore / first year ID.

  1. There are a decent amount of activities, but with school and all, it is easy to lose track of them. You will probably get to know the ID people well but each major can be isolated.

  2. I have not, but know people who have. It can be tough to schedule them together – breaks are scheduled differently – but many people make it work and swear by the Brown classes. I have had some great liberal arts classes at RISD (and some not-so-great ones too) but have not looked at Brown because I am not the best at managing different competing classes – would rather focus on a couple ID classes than spend a lot of time in liberal arts. Again, this comes down to preference and some people love the Brown classes.

  3. Like I said before, it can be easy to wander around everything in RISD and come out with a scattered experience if you don’t know what you want. But since you have studied 2 years and have a goal, this might not be as much of a problem! Not to say that you shouldn’t explore new things outside of ID and subjects that interest you, but I have heard from an employer once that he noted that a good number of RISD students don’t translate all those interesting classes into useful skills/experiences in a business setting (keep in mind he is an executive from a corporation but still has a design background). You sound like you are in a good place by coming from another school and being able to compare it to that experience – it is too easy to get stuck in the RISD bubble and think that just going through the program will work out in the end.

Keep asking away! I know you are far away, but I am echoing Cyberdemon and recommending visiting to different schools. When I visited, we scheduled a visit with the ID department coordinator rather than having the general school visit, and this might be valuable at any school so you really learn about the ID department in more depth.

Your reply is very helpful and thanks for letting me ask more questions!It’s really nice of you!

Here is my new questions,ready??

1.I’ve seen some courses on the website like (wood I/metal I…) what’s the courses like? what exactly do they teach?

2.what kind of project do you usually do in studio class?(like transportation/furniture/footwear/conceptual product…)
And the program emphasize artistic value than problem-sloving ?

3.sounds like the sophomore year is focus on understanding the materials and introduction to ID.Then what’s the junior and senior years like?

4.Did you find any internship during summer break?How many help can school provide me in finding jobs and internship?

5.Do you know any alumni in ID that have their own agency ?And where do most of the ID graduates work?

6.Do you think through out the program you can have a general idea how this industry works, and the process of transforming an idea into an workable product(that can be manufactured and on the market).I’m a little afraid that RISD is not very down to earth. I want to be able to work as an industrial designer in companies/agencies after graduation.I know that I can’t rely on school,but I’m worrying about that I’ve to spend a lot of energy on school projects but also I have to learn technical skills that enable me to work as a designer by myself.

Not a problem! I will post a link to this thread on the RISD ID alum LinkedIn group to see if any alums can help you out.

  1. The wood 1 is basics in wood with a little more focus on hand tools, although there are some machine operations (bandsaw and lathe). Wood 2 is more focused on machines like the joiner, planer, table saw, etc. Metal 1 is a little different and is mainly only sheet metal (bending, rolling, fastening, etc.) where metal 2 is machining (lathe, milling machine). I think the old-school approach to these materials is great, but I wish there was a more “from the bottom up” approach to other skills – such as presentation (esp. 2D presentation/graphics), sketching, and things like Photoshop/Illustrator. But I have had a couple teachers that go out of their way to teach these things even when it isn’t in the course description.

2/3. The studio classes can be very broad – from pure material exploration classes to systems design classes. The Junior and Senior years are mainly about your Advanced Studio course, which is 6-credits … so a lot really depends on the class that you get. I will PM you a list of this spring’s descriptions, but in the mix of the classes there is one systems design, one habitat design, two material exploration, and three anythings (either product or system depending on your choice). IMO it is a little broad if you know that you want only product design, but it does give options to students are have other interests or pursuing bits of each.

  1. I did and most students do an ID internship during the summer after their Junior year. I did one during sophomore year but it was not in ID. Unfortunately the school doesn’t do much to help. The career services are nice but the help is a little more general than ID-specific. I am interning now part-time, through luck that my teacher invited the right person to the final critique (my teacher also brought free pizza to the crit).

  2. Many RISD-ID do not go the traditional product design route but there are a good number that do. One of the Core77 moderators, Yo (Michael DiTullo) started his own and he may be able to help :wink: There are a few around Providence too. I think more of the RISD alums who start their own firms are focused on things besides product design but that is a shot in the dark.

  3. These are great questions. I have heard a few times that RISD-ID “does not prepare you for your first job but your last.” I still don’t know what I think of this, or if it is a good attitude. I like RISD, but I should have definitely looked at more schools 4 years ago and been better informed about ID overall before making that decision, rather than being attached to the name. It sounds like you are definitely interested in the traditional product side of things so I would encourage you to keep looking at the schools that you mentioned earlier. I am most familiar with the strong work of UC, maybe other users can chime in on the other schools.

I did not follow the entire thread, but if you have gotten through RISD, don’t think twice. Its THE place to go.
You should consider yourself lucky. RISD is extremely tough to get in. I should know !