Who is RIC?

College students spend a lot of time focusing – focusing on courses, papers to write and tests to take. Education takes that focus and discipline but sometimes we might fail to look at the bigger picture, about who we are and where we are going. It is easy to get lost in the details.

On the RIC homepage, you can see faces some of the 53,000 alumni that have graduated from RIC over the years. The tagline is “I am RIC.” In this article, I’d like to answer the question – Who is RIC? I took a look at the 2010 RIC Student Census to find out.

RIC students are hard workers. Roughly 80 percent of full-time students work in addition to going to class, myself included. Of the students that work, over 70 percent work 15 or more hours per week and over 15 percent work over 35 hours a week. It is no small coincidence that 80 percent of students fund their education at least in part with the wages they earn. The majority of students, around 50 percent, use loans as their primary method of paying for school.

People sometimes forget that being a student is also a full-time job. During my orientation at RIC, I was told that a student should aim for two hours of private study for every hour of lecture. A full load of courses is 15 hours of lectures, so a full-time student has 30 hours of work per week outside the classroom.

RIC students are ethnically diverse. An overwhelming majority of students, roughly 95 percent, believe that both students and faculty are appreciative of cultural differences. Over 80 percent of RIC’s student body are Rhode Islanders and reflect all the diversity that Rhode Island has to offer – students are of all ages and backgrounds.

Eleven percent of RIC students are Hispanic, over five percent are African American and roughly 7.5 percent self-identified as of two or more races. Beyond race, RIC is filled with people from different ethnic groups – from Italian to Dominican, Portuguese to French-Canadian.

The college is home to many organizations that foster and celebrate diversity, for example, the Institute for Portuguese and Lusophone World Studies, the many student run groups and the Unity Center. The experience of meeting others who are different from myself has been one of the most important parts of my education at RIC.

RIC students are academically diverse. Roughly 25 percent of students graduate with a degree in education and go on to become teachers and educate our youth. Approximately 15 percent studying nursing go on to care for the health of our state and nation. Another 10 percent study management and operate the businesses that fuel our growing economy. And these are just some of the paths RIC students take on their way to becoming leaders in their profession.

The student census indicates that the area of college life that students are most satisfied with is the quality of the classes offered. Roughly 80 percent said that they felt the quality of courses was good or excellent. It is those classes that allow students to achieve in the workplace.

The story of a RIC graduate is often a noble one. Many first-generation college students come to RIC with a dream of a better tomorrow, of advancing professionally, of better providing for their families. I am one of those students.

Sometimes we students might lose sight of that bigger picture, the reasons why we pursued an education in the first place. Our reason for being here is in some ways an incarnation of the American dream, that with hard work and determination we can achieve whatever we set our minds to.

Perhaps that is what “I am RIC” really means.