I like it a lot, but I'm going to talk about the downsides first.
RISD students work really hard. Everyone says freshman year here is equal to freshman year at MIT. I've had to stay up to 4 am more than once. I'm behind in most of my classes and struggling to make up the work. Many artists, including me, procrastinate a lot and overwork everything to "perfection." The reason they give us so much work is because we have to unlearn those habits.
Many people don't like the fact that you can't minor in anything at RISD. However, the schedule is more flexible than it seems to outsiders. They will make exceptions for people who really want to take a certain class, and they will reduce the workload for people who simply can't handle doing that much work. You can take 4 classes instead of 5 and make up the 5th class during the summer in a 2 week program. That costs a few thousand dollars. You can even have such a reduced workload that you graduate in 5 years instead of 4. I was almost forced to have a reduced workload because my 3d teacher was angry about the quality of my homework. I have no experience with 3d. But I begged her to let me remain in the class. I did this because I don't want to make things easier for myself. If I learn to work harder I will make more money, progress more quickly, and produce better quality work.
Again, I'm a freshman, and freshman year is considered the most difficult year at RISD. A lot of people transfer to RISD sophomore year on purpose, just to avoid the work.
The teachers here are very smart and very understanding. They really care about their students. Even my cranky old 3d teacher was a pretty understanding person, she let me back in the class and has tried to help me succeed. Many people dislike drawing teachers because they are very critical. My drawing teacher criticizes most people's work but he likes my drawings a lot. Drawing teachers just want people to improve.
The kids here are mostly very friendly. Some people say RISD students are "pretentious" but I think those are the same people who think harvard is "pretentious." They're probably jealous. I've visted many art schools and I think RISD is the friendliest. Some art schools have a lot of stereotypical antisocial art students, like SAIC (no offense...) but there aren't many people like that here. The atmosphere in general is very collaborative. They stick freshman in groups of about 20 that take all of the same classes together and encourage them to get along. This is similar to the way brown works. Some company's hire a lot of people from brown and risd for this reason, like pixar.
A lot of interesting people come to speak here. The illustrator and writer of the dinotopia books is coming soon, that's going to be cool. The first person I saw speak was this alumni who builds toy robots for a living. He was absolutely convinced that robots will be just as smart was humans by the year 2030, and that, since the military funds most of the research on robots, robots will become a danger to humans. So he's devoted his life to building friendly robots. A lot of people raised their hands and asked if he should stop building robots because they will take jobs away from humans when they become smart enough. It was pretty funny.
Providence isn't much different from boston, which is the area I grew up in. To some people providence and rhode island in general seems depressingly small at first, but it really isn't. There's a lot of beaches here, and RISD owns a beach that is called "the farm" even though it's not a farm. Strangely, RISD also has a place called "the beach" which is really a small boring patch of grass where people like to hang out for some unexplainable reason.
Anyway... providence had a lot of really good restaurants, and a new good restaurant opens every month. The north end is the most famous restaurant area, but it's too crowded and touristy. Thayer street, which is only a couple blocks from RISD, has a lot of really good and cheap places to eat. It's not nessicary to go there though, because the food at RISD is actually really good. There are several places to eat on campus and each of them has great food. The providence mall is pretty close, but I rarely go there. All the grocerys I need can be bought on campus, and if I want to go to whole foods or something there's a free shuttle there. All RISD students can take the RIPTA bus for free to anywhere in rhode island. There are also shuttles that you can call late at night from anywhere and they will pick you up and drive you anywhere for free. You get what you pay for here... RISD is expensive but we have all this stuff.
Most people here don't care about sports. I like sports, but I am very out of shape so I'm glad there's so little interest in sports. I'm on the basketball team, we mostly play against pratt and cooper union. I tried to join soccer, but they always meet at midnight (?!). RISD has a skiing team, I can't wait for that to start.
I think I got a bit carried away writing this... but there's still more I want to say. I guess I should talk about the reputation of the school. A lot of people consider RISD the best in the nation, but it's not the best at everything. It has a reputation for being the best at graphic design and illustration. Calarts is the best for animation, MICA is the best for painting, parsons is the best for fashion, and the yale school of art is supposed to be the best art school in the world, period. The yale school of art is only a graduate school though, not undergrad. And they have like a 3% acceptance rate.