Are Rankings Dependable?


Hello, as a prospective architecture student I would like some opinions on the validity of rankings. 

GSD can be great, but I spoke to many students there who say they would have preferred MIT. And based on my visits, I was most impressed by the vibe and works at Yale, which focuses less on advertising its brand name and quietly remains true to the mastery of their architectural work. And there are some schools that aren't ranked very high like SCI-Arc, Princeton, and Penn that are very admired by deans and administrators.

I understand that rankings are based on a biased perspective. And what is much more important is the student's fit with the school's pedagogy, faculty, and personality. Is it still somewhat dependable?

May 12, 17 4:16 pm

When did SCi-arc, Princeton and Penn become not ranked well? There all top 20, if not top 10.

One thing I would be wary about in design intelligence ranking, there's defiantly some merit there, but huge portion (some one correct me if i wrong) of there system is based on alum feedback. So if a school is moderately good and has a huge program, there's going to get a lot of feedback from them.

And your second statement is very true, but one thing I would say that what rankings do do, is fosters a sense of competitiveness and standard, (same goes with the ivy league) yes there are some kids who fall through and may be mediocre, but in the end the students who are there are usually extremely determined and good designers. which relates back the vastness of their alumi connections and so on.



Literally writing this as I get ready to walk for my undergraduate degree.... before heading to PENN in the I hope im not just lying to my self.

May 13, 17 10:12 am

the ranking methodology is fundamentally flawed, but it can be useful in combination with some common sense (and familiarity with the faculty, work, and pedagogy of the schools in question). no one actually believes that any school in Kansas offers a superior program to MIT or Princeton; that is a laughable suggestion despite what the rankings might say in a given year. just like no one really thought Michigan was actually the #1 program in America the year after it didn't make the top 20 just because Monica Ponce de León became the dean.

that said, there are very good reasons why GSD, GSAPP, MIT, etc. are consistently ranked near the top. so for a prospective student (that isn't just looking for a brand-name degree with no regard for the work or culture of the school) the rankings may serve as a solid starting point, but absolutely should not be a substitute for real research into which program is the best fit.

May 13, 17 8:56 pm

I agree that the larger institutions have an advantage when it comes to rankings. They have more feedback and support. Inevitably, alumni would try to vote for their alma mater, which means the smaller schools that stay highly ranked quite amazing in their own rights.

May 15, 17 2:39 pm

I think a takeaway is that while it's hard to make an accurate list of top 20 schools in order, the schools that are on the list are generally of good quality. 

Though I often like to point out that many of them also get the best students to come in, so it's a bit of a misnomer to say that they are the best at producing professionals. 

May 15, 17 8:48 pm

I suppose they are "good" schools, whatever that means.  There is more pretentiousness than talent in many of them.  Many of the best architects engineers and bim managers that I have worked with are from more humble origins, like  just having an undergrad degree from state schools and from lesser known schools where They were likely the best in their program, and relied on natural talent and Intelligence for drive. many of them are doing the real work in leading firms and no one has any idea where they went to school.

May 18, 17 12:00 am
^the top people at any school tend to be good. It's the middle and bottom that differ from my experience. Given the power I'd hire 75% of my grad school classmates, but maybe 15% of my undergrad classmates. I see this in other schools too. But again I see it as a quality in quality out thing for the most part.
May 18, 17 2:47 am

For OP's sake, I assume you did your undergrad in a middle-tier sch and grad in a top tier one?

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