SELECTING: RANKINGS – WORTH IT?
Thus far, our series on Selecting a Program has addressed these topics:
Selecting a Program
RANKING OF ARCHITECTURE PROGRAMS
One resource we did not discuss in the last essay on Resources was Rankings. Many individuals and institutions will promote rankings as a means to determine how best to select an architecture program. But I would caution you on using rankings as a major resource for selecting a program.
While rankings are a popular method of assistance in selecting an architecture program, be careful. Do you know what criteria the book or magazine article uses when ranking programs? Are the criteria used important to you? You should use your own set of highly subjective criteria when determining which program is best for you. Consider that none of the associations involved with architectural education attempt or advocate the rating of architecture programs, beyond their term of accreditation. Qualities that make a school good for one student may not work that way for another. You should consider a variety of factors in making your choice among schools.
Although few would argue that certain programs, particularly those at the Ivy League schools, are excellent, the fact is that if a degree program is accredited by the NAAB it is valid for you to consider.
One ranking, America’s Best Architecture & Design Schools, released by DesignIntelligence, attempts to assess the best architecture schools each year by asking practitioners to comment on how recent graduates from different schools fare in the marketplace. The report provides valuable information but also urges critical evaluation of the research results.
For the report, the professional practice survey posed participants the question, “In your firm’s hiring experience in the past five years, which schools are best preparing students for a future in the profession and designing a sustainable future?” Thus, if you wish to base your decision on the above question, you may wish to pay attention to these rankings, but we would argue that your selection criteria will want to much broader.
Another ranking is Best Colleges for Architecture that we found thru a simple web search. Their ranking is based on rigorous analysis of academic, admissions, financial, and student life data from the U.S. Department of Education along with millions of reviews from students and alumni.
As stated on their website, the factors considered include the Overall NICHE Grade, Architecture Student SAT/ACT Scores, Percent Majoring in Architecture, Architecture Program Demand, Percent of U.S. Architecture Graduates, Architecture Student Surveys, and Architecture Test Scores Compared to Schools. As with the rankings by DI, do you fully understand the factors used in these rankings. Probably not. As such, I would NOT put too much consideration into this ranking.
Instead of relying on rankings, rely on your own criteria to develop your own ranking. In future essays, we will discuss criteria to consider for your decision.