RISD Summer Pre-College Program

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Young curly student woman wearing backpack glasses holding books

RISD Summer Pre-College Program

The RISD Summer Pre-College Program is your haven as an emerging artist, offering chances to refine your skills and enrich your knowledge of art and design. It is a summer camp that mirrors the experience of RISD’s undergraduate program.

In the next few sections, we’ll break down everything about this program: its history, its goals, and the wide range of courses available. By the end of this article, you’ll see how the RISD Summer Pre-College Program could play a crucial role in your growth as an artist.

What is the RISD Summer Pre-College Program?

Imagine a place where your creative ideas are not only welcomed but celebrated. A space where you can play with various mediums, learn from successful artists, and work alongside peers who think just like you.

That’s what the RISD Summer Pre-College Program offers—a six-week immersive experience designed to emulate RISD’s undergraduate curriculum. Here, you’re not just another student; you’re an artist-in-the-making.

The program offers endless opportunities, offering everything from basic drawing and design courses to specialized classes in sculpture, game design, and more. But it goes beyond just art—it’s about your overall growth.

It includes liberal arts elements to make sure you’re not just skilled in technique but also strong in concept.

Definition and History of the Program

The RISD Summer Pre-College Program is a six-week residential experience aimed at high school students who are serious about art and design. Established decades ago, this program has been a cornerstone in RISD’s commitment to nurturing the next generation of artists and designers.

Over the years, it has evolved, incorporating cutting-edge techniques and technologies, but its core ethos remains unchanged—to provide a rigorous, college-level experience in art and design.

The program has been a launchpad for many successful artists, some of whom have become distinguished RISD alums. It’s not just a summer course; it’s a rite of passage for those pursuing art and design at a higher level.

The Mission and Vision: Why Does This Program Exist?

At its core, the program aims to bridge the gap between high school art classes and a full-fledged college curriculum. It’s designed to give you a taste of life at RISD, from the intensive studio sessions to the collaborative projects.

The mission is simple yet profound—to cultivate creative thinkers who are adept at their craft and capable of pushing the boundaries of what art and design can achieve.

The vision is even grander—to shape the artists and designers who will define the aesthetics and functionalities of tomorrow. The program is more than just a summer experience; it’s a stepping stone to a future where you’re the artist or designer you’ve always aspired to be.

Who is the Program Designed For?

The program is a chameleon of sorts, adapting to a diverse range of students with varying artistic inclinations. Whether you’re a seasoned artist with a portfolio bursting at the seams or a novice just starting to explore the world of art and design, there’s a place for you here.

Students laugh at each other.

The program is a melting pot of talent, where high school students from different backgrounds come together to learn, create, and inspire. It’s not just for those who want to pursue art as a career; it’s for anyone who believes in the transformative power of art and design.

Target Demographics: Age, Skill Level, and Interests

The RISD Summer Pre-College Program primarily targets high school students, typically between 16 and 18. Skill levels can range from beginners just dipping their toes into the art world to advanced students who have already won accolades for their work.

As for interests, the program is an array of artistic disciplines. Whether you’re into traditional painting, digital art, sculpture, or even fashion design, there’s a course tailored for you. The program is designed to be inclusive, welcoming students from diverse ethnic, socio-economic, and cultural backgrounds.

So, if you fit within this broad spectrum, you’re the target demographic for this enriching experience.

What Are You Looking to Gain? Tailoring Expectations

First and foremost, you’ll walk away with a robust portfolio—a critical asset for college applications and beyond. But it’s not just about the end product but the journey.

You’ll gain invaluable skills, from mastering the technical aspects of your chosen medium to understanding the nuances of conceptual thinking. You’ll also forge connections with faculty and peers, creating a network that could serve you well in your future endeavors.

The program aims to provide a holistic education, balancing technical proficiency with conceptual depth. So, tailor your expectations accordingly; it’s a deep, meaningful relationship that could shape your artistic future.

What Courses Can You Take?

Whether you’re a traditionalist who finds solace in the strokes of a paintbrush or a tech-savvy artist who thrives in the digital realm, there’s something here for you. The program offers foundational courses covering the basics of drawing, design, and spatial dynamics, providing a solid base for building your specialized skills.

But don’t think for a moment that it stops there. The program also offers a rich selection of elective courses that allow you to delve into specific areas of interest, be it printmaking, animation, or even fashion design.

A Kaleidoscope of Courses: From Painting to Digital Art

The RISD Summer Pre-College Program is a kaleidoscope of artistic disciplines, each more enticing than the last. For the traditionalists, painting, drawing, and sculpture courses offer a deep dive into the time-honored techniques that have shaped the art world for centuries.

an art class with students painting

But if you’re more inclined towards the modern, fear not. The program also offers digital art, game design, and even virtual reality courses, providing a cutting-edge education in tune with the evolving landscape of art and design.

This wide range of courses ensures you’re not just a jack-of-all-trades but a master of your chosen domain. Whether you’re looking to refine your skills in a specific medium or explore new avenues of artistic expression, the program offers the flexibility to make it happen.

Course Structure: What Does a Typical Day Look Like?

Your day will likely start with a foundational course, where you’ll delve into the principles of art and design. These morning sessions equip you with the skills to excel in your specialized courses.

After a break for lunch and some much-needed socializing, you’ll dive into your elective courses, which offer a more focused exploration of your chosen discipline.

The day doesn’t end when the classes do; evenings are often filled with workshops, guest lectures, and collaborative projects, providing a 360-degree educational experience.

Each day is a microcosm of your artistic journey, packed with learning, creating, and growing opportunities.

Faculty Credentials: Who Will Be Teaching You?

The faculty at the RISD Summer Pre-College Program are not just educators; they’re practicing artists and designers who bring a wealth of real-world experience to the classroom. These individuals have exhibited their work in galleries, worked with top-tier design firms, and even won prestigious awards in their respective fields.

Their credentials testify to the program’s commitment to providing a theoretically sound and practically relevant education. You’ll learn from the business’s best and gain insights beyond textbooks and lectures.

These faculty members serve as mentors, guiding you through the complexities of artistic creation and offering personalized feedback that can be instrumental in your growth as an artist.

How Will This Program Benefit Your College Admissions Journey?

Participating in this program sends a clear message to admissions committees: You’re committed to your craft, have received formal training, and are proactive about your artistic development.

It’s a stamp of credibility and dedication that can set you apart from other applicants. Moreover, the skills and portfolio you’ll develop during the program can serve as compelling evidence of your artistic prowess, making you a more attractive candidate for top art and design schools.

The RISD Summer Pre-College Program can be a pivotal chapter in your college admissions story, providing you with the tools and credentials to make a compelling case for your admission.

Portfolio Development: A Golden Ticket to Art Schools

A strong portfolio can be the deciding factor in your college admissions process, and the RISD Summer Pre-College Program is designed to help you build diverse and impactful ones.

a student making a portfolio

Under the guidance of experienced faculty, you’ll work on various projects that showcase your skills and versatility. From traditional mediums like painting and sculpture to cutting-edge fields like digital art and virtual reality, your portfolio will testify to your wide-ranging talents and technical proficiency.

But it’s not just about the final product; the program also teaches you how to curate and present your portfolio in a way that tells a compelling story of your artistic journey.

Networking Opportunities: Rubbing Elbows with the Future Picassos and Warhols

Imagine being in a space filled with like-minded individuals, all of whom are passionate about art and design. You may encounter these folks as future classmates, study buddies, or even friendly competitors.

Networking is not solely about socializing at events. It’s about forming meaningful connections that can open doors for you. Whether it’s a peer who introduces you to a new technique or a faculty member who becomes a lifelong mentor, the relationships you form during the program can impact your career.

In a field where who you know can be just as important as what you know, the networking opportunities provided by the program are invaluable.

Skill Acquisition: Beyond the Brush and Canvas

While technical skills are crucial to your artistic development, the RISD Summer Pre-College Program recognizes that true mastery goes beyond the brush and canvas. The program offers a holistic education covering the technical aspects of art and design and the conceptual and theoretical foundations underpinning them.

You’ll learn to think critically about your work, articulate your artistic vision, and contextualize your creations within broader cultural and historical narratives. These “soft skills” can be just as necessary as your technical prowess, equipping you with the intellectual tools to engage with your craft at a deeper level.

Whether critiquing a peer’s work or defending your own in a college interview, these skills can set you apart as a thoughtful and insightful artist.

What’s the Financial Investment?

While the RISD Summer Pre-College Program offers many artistic and personal growth opportunities, it comes with a price tag. But before you balk at the numbers, consider this: the program is an investment in your future, a down payment on your artistic aspirations.

a female intern working remotely

Getting caught up in the immediate costs is easy, but viewing the program through the lens of long-term gains is crucial. Over six weeks, you’ll receive an education on par with RISD’s world-renowned undergraduate program, gaining skills and experiences that can give you a competitive edge in college admissions and beyond.

Tuition Fees: Breaking Down the Numbers

The RISD Summer Pre-College Program is a comprehensive package that includes your courses, housing, meals, and access to state-of-the-art facilities and resources.

As of the latest data, the total cost for the six-week program can range from $9,000 to $11,000, depending on various factors like room type and additional materials for specialized courses.

While this might seem steep at first glance, it’s essential to consider what you’re getting in return: a rigorous, college-level education in art and design, a robust portfolio, and a network of peers and mentors who can serve you well in your future endeavors.

Scholarships and Financial Aid: Don’t Let Money Hold You Back

The RISD Summer Pre-College Program offers a range of scholarships and financial aid options to make the program more accessible. Need-based scholarships can cover a significant portion of the tuition fees, and there are also merit-based awards for students who demonstrate exceptional talent and potential.

The program is committed to fostering diversity and inclusion, and financial constraints should not hinder participation. If you’re passionate about art and design and dedicated to honing your craft, resources are available to help you make this investment in your future.

ROI: Is It Worth the Investment?

The answer, according to many alums, is a resounding yes. The skills you’ll acquire, the portfolio you’ll develop, and the connections you’ll make can impact your artistic and academic career.

Many alums have gone on to gain admission to prestigious art schools, win scholarships, and even launch successful careers in art and design.

In a world where the proper education and connections can make all the difference, the program offers a competitive edge that can set you on the path to success.

How Do You Apply?

The application process is your first step in this artistic journey, and it’s crucial to approach it with the same level of dedication and preparation that you would for any masterpiece.

The application is typically available online through RISD’s official website and involves several components, including a portfolio, personal statement, and sometimes even an interview.

Think of the application as your first project in the program—a comprehensive showcase of who you are, what you bring to the table, and why you’re a perfect fit for this immersive experience.

Application Requirements: What You Need to Prepare

First and foremost, you’ll need a portfolio that showcases your best work. This is your chance to shine, to show the admissions committee your artistic range, technical skills, and unique voice.

Alongside your portfolio, you’ll also need to submit a personal statement. This is where you get to articulate your artistic vision, your goals for the program, and why you believe RISD is the right fit for you.

Some programs may also require letters of recommendation, preferably from individuals who are familiar with your artistic talents and can vouch for your dedication and potential.

Read the application guidelines carefully to ensure you’re not missing any crucial components.

Deadlines: Mark These Dates on Your Calendar

Timing is everything, and when it comes to your application for the RISD Summer Pre-College Program, you can’t afford to be tardy. The program usually has a specific application window, often opening in the winter and closing in the spring.

However, it’s not just about the final deadline; there are often multiple admissions rounds, and applying earlier can sometimes give you a competitive edge. Additionally, if you’re seeking financial aid or scholarships, those applications may have separate deadlines.

Mark these dates on your calendar, set reminders, and give yourself ample time to polish your application perfectly.

Insider Tips: How to Make Your Application Stand Out

You’re not just another applicant; you’re a unique artist with a distinct voice, and your application should reflect that. So, how can you make your application to the RISD Summer Pre-College Program stand out?

One insider tip is to tailor your portfolio to showcase your technical skills, versatility, and creativity. Include works that demonstrate a range of mediums and styles, but make sure they all cohesively represent your artistic identity.

In your personal statement, go beyond the generic reasons for wanting to attend the program. Dive deep into how the program aligns with your artistic goals and what unique perspectives you can bring to the community.

If possible, seek feedback from alums or professionals to fine-tune your application. Remember, this is more than just a formality; it’s your first impression, so make it count.


The RISD Summer Pre-College Program is more than just a summer experience; it’s a stepping stone to your future in art and design. It’s an investment in your skills, your network, and, ultimately, your passion.

As you stand at the crossroads of your artistic journey, this program could be the catalyst that propels you toward the path you’ve always dreamed of.

Ready to Take the Next Step in Your Artistic Journey? AdmissionSight Can Help!

You’ve just explored the incredible opportunities the RISD Summer Pre-College Program offers, and you’re probably buzzing with excitement and questions. How do you make your application stand out? What’s the best way to prepare a compelling portfolio? How can you maximize your chances of receiving financial aid? That’s where AdmissionSight comes in.

As experts in college admissions, we specialize in helping students like you navigate the complex admissions landscape. From personalized portfolio reviews to strategic application guidance, our services are designed to elevate your candidacy for programs like RISD and beyond.

Don’t leave your artistic future to chance. Let AdmissionSight guide you through the intricacies of the admissions process, ensuring that your talent and passion shine through in every aspect of your application.

Take action now! Schedule a free consultation with AdmissionSight to discuss how we can help you turn your artistic dreams into reality. Your journey to the RISD Summer Pre-College Program and a fulfilling career in art and design starts here.

Let’s make your artistic aspirations come to life. Contact AdmissionSight today!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up now to receive insights on
how to navigate the college admissions process.