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.