Transfer to UC from RISD?

I’m almost half way through my sophomore year at RISD and I’ve been thinking about transferring to University of Cincinnati or ACCD for next fall.
And I’m just not sure it’d be a smart decision to transfer after spending two full years at RISD. I guess I’m still hoping and waiting to hear something positive about RISD ID program so I won’t have to think about transferring. I’m still trying to figure out the pros and cons of transferring… (I might have to start the school as a freshmen which would be very discouraging)

I know I can always teach myself all the technical skills like dealing with ID related programs after graduation or during summer. I can use my spare time to learn skills that RISD ID program is not going to teach me. But I can’t stop thinking about UC’s coop program and ACCD’s renowned ID program.

Would it be a wiser choice to stay at RISD and keep on try to combat the problem I face here or transfer to another school?
Any thoughts/opinions would be greatly appreciated!


Can you be more specific as to what you see as shortfalls of the RISD program, and why UC is appealing to you?

I have had much experience working alongside and mentoring RISD grads at all levels - senior, junior and fresh out of the water, and have some ideas of what RISD could do better, but I’d be curious to hear what you think.

Additionally, universities and programs are partially a ‘fit’ thing - a school may offer a great program, but it may not ‘fit’ the individual.

Not to short-change the discussion, but if your gut is telling you something, I’ve found that listening to it usually puts one in a better situation…

Drop a line when you can - curious to get your thoughts.

  • mid-westerner -

I would. Go visit UC, and talk to them about what your situation would look like and how everything would go down. Then think about it, and do what you think it the best choice for you. It’s your future, so if your displeased or think that someplace else will suite you better then go for it.

Definitely visit. I was in the same situation as you (15 years ago) and decided to stay at RISD after a visit to ACCD. You should talk to Rene Lee who is a senior at RISD, former frog design intern, and spent a semester at UC.

east coaster, simon_four_fingers and yo, thanks for your advice!

I talked to Rene a couple of days ago and after a long discussion with him, I decided to stay at RISD and teach myself on my own time what I think lacks from the curriculum.

east coaster, my problem with RISD ID department is that it does’t seem to offer a program where students will receive a well balanced education that includes both technical and hands-on skills. I wish the curriculum would align a little more with what the industry is looking for in industrial/product designers.

and just out of curiosity, yo, may I ask why you decided to stay at RISD after visiting ACCD?

Cincinnati has a great program and offers good opportunities with local companies like Procter & Gamble. I would consider other factors in your decision, such as tuition and relocation costs, career objectives and particularly whether you’d prefer a college atmosphere as opposed to an art school.

A number of reasons, some you might expect others you might not: all of them pretty personal.

  1. being an East coast kid, Providence was very familiar, and for some reason I really loved the campus. Not a good reason, because you can’t take the campus with you, but by contrast Art Center felt a little alien and a little far from home for me at the age of 19… just me…
  2. when I went I spoke with Ron Hill, then head of the transportation department, and though I’m sure he was awesome, something about him rubbed me the wrong way. He said something like “your pretty good, especially for coming from RISD, but if you want to be a real designer, you’ll have to come here…”. I’m sure he had the best intention, and he was essentially offering to accept me on the spot, but there was a tone there that didn’t connect with the anit-authoritarian kid I was. Instead of making me feel excited to be accepted it made me feel like “oh yeah, says you…”
  3. I felt like I was already pretty strong on the sketching side and wanted to really focus on concept. (the ACCD program is very different now I should mention, and the people heading it up have a very different tone)
  4. and really the most important, I had just met the girl who would become my partner and wife… celebrating 15 years together next week. Under all my rationalizations for why I didn’t go, I’m sure this was the real reason.

I wouldn’t take it back because I would be a different person otherwise. It worked for me, or I made it work lets say… you will have to do the same.


Glad you’ve come to a decision. I’m sure it was hard - now the work begins.

Any university can offer a great education to any particular student - part of the journey is making it work for you as well. A technical-based school can do just that - give you great technical skills, but is it challenging your thinking, making you a bit entreprenural or giving you a ‘differentiating’ education?

Again - a particular program may or may not fit where you want to be. Certain schools (my own Alma Mater, CMU included) can be set up to grow very talented designers, but a lot of what makes an education good is what you want to to be, what you bring to the table, and how you push it and yourself.

At CMU, I got a great thinker’s education, and a wonderful exposure to drawing physical modelling skills, but CAD was woefully lacking. As a result, I had a to choose to either get really good at CAD on my own time, or not focus on it. I chose to not focus on it as I knew that my value was going to be more verbal and sketch-based. There are times that come by when I question that choice, but in my heart of hearts, I know my DNA and made the right choice.

Which leads me to you and RISD. From my outsiders perspective (again, didn’t go there, but worked with a lot of grads) it seems like it offers great tools and resources, but really relies on the individual to use them to achieve full potential. It seems that it strives to breed a very entreprenural mindset, and those students who embrace that seem to really shine.

This next part may make RISD folks sensitive - please take no offense - Yo, please correct me if I’m wrong.

Now, one thing that I do see lacking is the focus on visual communication at RISD. Of all of the RISD kids I worked with, most had sub-par (relatively speaking) drawing skills and were itching for some more teaching in that department. I used to spend a lot of time teaching them some basics of visual communication, and how to use sketches/drawings to their advantage. These folks were engaging designers in every sense of the word, but lacked the ability to communicate their ideas visually. Now, there were exceptions - I have worked with a very talented group of RISD folks who can draw very well. But, it seems that most of those folks came in to RISD with strong drawing skills at the start.

I think that program, more than others, did not put enough attenti0n into that area. That being said, they did a lot of other things wonderfully. Which leads me to believe that we cannot serve every designers needs with a typical 4-year program. It’s just not enough time to grow a good designer - something will be left out, under-nourished or not learned depending upon the designer. Each program leaves something out. And, each program is a fit for the right individual.

It boils down to whatever skills/abilities/competencies one can bring into the school, the better chance those skills will blossom in school.

Sorry for the long-winded response, but it’s a Sat nite and I’ve got a really good IPA under my belt.

  • mid-westerner -

Dead on.


Just out of curiosity, How would you rate your own technical skills? How’s your sketching, how’s your digital work, ect. ?

I am glad you decided to stay, but just be aware that nothing is going to be handed to you in the RISD ID program. Getting an internship or job is possible but you have to fight for it. RISD will give you core design skills, but somewhat lacks in helping you get to the next level.

It is possible though if your determined, aware of current design trends and skills, and most of all passionate about what your doing.

Also what type of field of work do you want to end up in?