I had my 20th college reunion last October. It is interesting to think of my school choice 25 years after I made it. Initially I chose RISD for a number of reasons:
1 - Reputation. Not the best reason, but they do a great job of convincing high school art teachers and guidance counselors that they are awesome. With several authority figures recommending it to me, it had an influence.
2 - Feel. I visited RIT, Pratt, Syracuse, Art Center, and talked to people at CCS. RISD just kind of felt right to me. The city setting, in a small, manageable city, the feel of the campus, the art school vibe. It just clicked.
3 - Location. I was a small town boy from New York State. I wanted to be in a city, but NYC was a little intimidating, and maybe too close to home at just a 90 minute train ride. Art Center felt too far. At 4.5 hours away by car, RISD had that right feel of being on my own, but not too far. I could still get home in 2 trains and a switch from Penn Station to Grand Central.
As some of you might know, I had a love/hate with the school for a long time based on my experiences there, but as time has gone on the good has seemed to out weight the bad. What the school lacked in core skill building and industry connections it made up for in critical thinking, rigor/work ethic, and the connections to fellow alumni. Going back and seeing folks I hadn't seen in 20 years in some cases there was an irreplaceable bond.