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Confused SueConfused Sue Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
Hi --
Does anyone out there know of UMichigan's (Ann Arbor campus) art & design school reputation? I have been accepted to both RISD and UMich, two totally opposite schools. I fear I will miss out on the "true" college experience by going to strictly an art school, but I don't want to waste my time in Michigan if their program really isn't very good. Plus, I fear my chances for employment (I am a NYer) will be made more difficult coming out of Michigan. But myabe I am totally wrong about all this. My major is photography. At Michigan's freshman open house, they made you feel like their program was the best anywhere, but I know they are trying to sell their school. RISD's repuation speaks for itself, but it sure doens't sound like it would be a really fun place to be. I don't know what to do. HELP!!!!
Post edited by Confused Sue on

Replies to: RISD -vs- UMICH

  • mackinawmackinaw Registered User Posts: 2,909 Senior Member
    If you attend RISD, you don't go there to have fun. You work your tail off. But you spend a ton of time with an amazingly talented bunch of students and faculty. You have access to Boston and NY on a regular basis. And despite the 65-70 hour work-weeks, you do have a life in the remaining 100 hours. You graduate with a credential in art or design that's second to none. RISD is also ranked 2nd nationally in USNews in photography (this is for its MFA program).

    At UMich, you get everything that being at a Big Ten but also top 5 or so mega-universities can give you. Sporting events & party scene but also outstanding academics (and more so if you're in the Residential College or Honors College). You probably don't spend 65-70 hours on your studies; more like 40-50 (if you take your academic responsibilities seriously). You can take a "minor" in any of dozens of fields in the humanities, social sciences, or sciences. If you decide not to do art/photography you have a couple of hundred other majors you can take, and in any case you can dabble in a broad variety of subjects. You come out with a degree from a highly visible university.

    The question is: From UMich (in comparison to RISD), do you readily get into the photography or other art field after graduation? Ultimately this depends as much on your individual talent, your developed skills, your portfolio, your ambition, your connections and contacts, and personality as much as it does where you got your degree -- but your degree can help at various points in your career, especially perhaps early on. As I look at the UMich program in Art and Design (A&D), it looks like it has an interesting foundation (or "core") studio program, which would not be that different from what you would get at an art school. But you would specialize (focus in on your major) later at UMich than at RISD. That has its pluses and minuses (see discussion on the RISD thread elsewhere on this board). But it means that you would be unlikely to get deeply into photography at UMich til your 3rd year, whereas at RISD you'd be very deeply into it in your 2nd year. (There's also a 2nd year review, which you have to pass at UMich, and I'm not sure how many people get cut from the program at that stage. You might ask.) I may be reading their website wrong, but it appears to me that at UMich you wouldn't ever specialize a great deal (see http://www.art-design.umich.edu/pr_undergrad_new_curricula.html ).
  • Confused SueConfused Sue Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    Thank you for your prompt reply. I think I have some soul-searching to do. No one can make this decision for me. I have to trust my instincts on this one -- only I keep hearing two voices inside my head. One says, don't worry about it, you'll get a "decent" art education, and you'll have a blast in Ann Arbor with a lot of fun people. The other voice says, don't be a moron, you got into RISD, go there, it might be hell-ish but the pay-off will be great.
  • weileweile Registered User Posts: 91 Junior Member
    I really don't think risd will be hellish. their freshman retention rate is very high, and pretty much any student you talk to says, 'it's hard work, but I love it.'

    I am going to risd this fall - and i've done a ton of research on it in the last year. my parents were wondering earlier this year whether I should go to an art college or a regular college, but I knew I wanted art because I know I could do art all the time happily.

    basically.. I don't think going to risd is a sacrifice of happiness. it's hard, but if you like art, would probably be very rewarding and even fun.
  • mackinawmackinaw Registered User Posts: 2,909 Senior Member
    weile, I agree: hellish it won't be. And if you love art, you will love being at RISD. But at times it's going to be very high pressure -- too little time, so much to do. The work is unrelenting. Fortunately, you'll be in the same situation as everyone else. And RISD students tend to be highly cooperative and supportive of one another.
  • ClaySoulClaySoul - Posts: 2,176 Senior Member
    RISD is like the best art school in the country. It is hard, but you will improve so much and doors will open left and right for you. AND you get to take courses at Brown :)
  • Confused SueConfused Sue Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    Well, my daughter has made the decision to attend RISD. Thank you all for your insights. I truly hope she survives "freshman boot camp." I am worried. I totally respect and support her decision, and am very proud of her accomplishments. If it were me, I would be partying at UMich. But she is obviously more mature than her mom!
  • weileweile Registered User Posts: 91 Junior Member
    good choice. I'll see her there then, though I won't know it.
  • Confused SueConfused Sue Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    Look for her. She's cute, nice, cool, and fun to hang out with. And her name is Amanda. She would KILL me if she knew I were writing this about her!
  • weileweile Registered User Posts: 91 Junior Member
    haha! I'll look out for an Amanda.
  • believersmombelieversmom Registered User Posts: 1,109 Senior Member
    Bump for inquiring minds...
This discussion has been closed.