Why would I want to go to prestigious school?


I mean, I've met people who studied at the AA, Sci-arc, Pratt, Harvard etc. And most of them don't seem like anything special, and a bunch of them are just total idiots. It really seems that it's a rich kid's club, and those institutes would take anyone with a checkbook.

I know that those institutes have high budgets (mainly due to high tuition), and finer facilities and better teaching staff and is more connected to the architecture market or whatever, but it seems like I'm more than capable to compete with people who went to those kind of institutes with my skill set. I don't feel like anyone is a 'better architect' for going to the AA, it just seems like they are just more... connected and rich.

Am I right with my assessment? I finished architecture school recently and I'm looking to go for a masters program in Europe or the US, and everything just seems so fucking expensive that I really have to ask: Is It really worth it?


Nov 24, 18 5:52 am

If you want to work for prestigious firms, you (usually) have to go to a prestigious school. That's not to say people from other schools don't work at those firms, but you're right that connections and alumni network are the main reasons to attend those schools. 

Architecture is a service profession for the rich, so no surprise that rich and well connected kids do well out of GSD, Sci-Arc, etc. I would look for cheap European schools to get your masters. Same education for drastically lower prices.

Nov 24, 18 7:09 am

Well what you can do is send applications to all the prestigious schools like Harvard and when they accept you then you can turn them down.

Nov 24, 18 8:11 am
Non Sequitur

because millennials still believe that spending (or borrowing) 100k+ for a March is a good investment. 

Spoiler alert. It’s not. 

Nov 24, 18 9:03 am
( o Y o )

What makes you think a prestigious school would want you?

Aside from the tuition fees.

Nov 24, 18 9:07 am
On the Brink
I went to one of those schools. Don’t do it. It’s a trap and/or scam.
Nov 24, 18 9:25 am

because your first consideration is that you want to marry well

Nov 24, 18 9:40 am

I think you hit the nail on the head.  It's about the connections.  I have a friend who was hellbent on working for a starchitect.  He spent $180k on his MArch from an Ivy, and now he works for a very good firm.  But makes peanuts compared to how much his loan debt is.

If you want to do something specific within architecture or work in a specific region, then find out how to get in that community of people.  Otherwise, just find the best school you can reasonably afford and you'll be fine.

Nov 24, 18 1:13 pm

People who didn't go there will most likely tell you it isn't worth it.

Nov 24, 18 3:28 pm

yea they are exactly the same as your local community college.



Non Sequitur

Sarcasm or not, Chi has a point In there Rando.


We might even be on the same page, not sure :)


Ivy degrees are required for starchitect firm jobs at minimum wage.  It costs a lot of money to be poor in this profession.

Nov 24, 18 7:33 pm

If you can go to top school you should.

You will make good connections and start off on a higher plane than those who don't go . But that does not guarantee any success. 

You will meet many stupid people everywhere, but less of them at the top.

Nov 24, 18 8:41 pm

totally agree with this.


if you just finished undergrad, it would be in your best interest to work for a couple of years before going to grad school just to make sure this is what you want to would be an idiot not to and some real world work might give you a more realistic view of this amazing skill set you claim to have. 

Nov 24, 18 9:33 pm

I agree, and every dollar you earn in this period will be less you have to borrow latter.


Agreed, and it would give you a better glimpse of the realities of this business before you commit further to it


we hired a Ivy League kid. Kid has crazy credentials... and can do a lot of pretty pictures. Cluessless in how a building gets put together Tried to explain door jambs within a wall assembly and I We have a kid that graduated at a community college that out performs him 5 to 1. 

Nov 24, 18 11:31 pm

for the prestige. use your brain

Nov 25, 18 12:27 am

Marketing, sales, and branding.  To clientele, a Ivy League degree is worth more.  Hence why starchitects snatch them up; its simply easier to negotiate ridiculous fees when you show them the resumes of the project team.  A Ferrari is worth more than a Porsche and massively more than a Ford, even though it's more likely to break down getting from A to B.... the value is the name, the brand, and how they've sold it to the public.

Nov 26, 18 12:08 pm

Starchitects "snatch them up", use their resumes to get the plum jobs, then pay them shit.


Totally Agree with this; but i would say it's the bigger firms where that really matters, SOM, The Big G, KPF etc..


connections, ladder rungs, std's, not much else

Nov 26, 18 12:14 pm

Would you rather have a doctor perform surgery on you that graduated top of the class at Johns Hopkins or one that barely scratched through some 3rd rate Tijuana medical school? 

Nov 26, 18 2:46 pm
Non Sequitur

we're not the same thing as doctors. That washroom tile pattern elevation will look just the same from a Harvard grad as it will from a U Boston grad...


probably the tijuana dude has seen a lot more shit and can react better than the uptight harvard semigod


If you don't think there is technical aptitude, skill, and talent are required to make an amazing building through slick details and keen understanding of systems integration you are wrong. Sure the interior of a McDonald's bathroom can be drawn by a monkey but that is not what I am talking about...There is a difference between somebody practicing A game level vs. hacks filling the built environment with careless shit...Education and exposure to the best architects might have something to do with it...

Non Sequitur

And 50k a year will get you that? Sure....


skills and technical aptitude? from grad school? systems integration? sure.


see this comment below? that's what an ivy league will get you, a plum design assignment, and a lot of experienced laborers (oh excuse me for not being royalty) to do the real work for you.

Back in the day we hired Bachelors of Science from technical-oriented schools and avoided the Ivy leagues like the plague. Prentious, overstuffed, undereducated assholes, one and all. Two-year BS degrees ran circles around them.

Now things are different, of course. Appearances are everything.


Architects that equate themselves to Doctors and Surgeons are idiots. In the grand scheme of things, you are no higher than a janitor at a hospital. But you get to wear black all day, everyday, and think you are big deal.


some of my co-workers came from SCI-arch and they get the "plum" design assignments, same with those from GSD and Cornell

Nov 26, 18 4:55 pm

What is this the 1980's??? Sounds like a discussion from Bonfire of the Vanities and no I didn't go to an Ivy League School and everyone I have every met who did certainly made a point of letting me know where they went to school.  My impression of them has always been the same.... douchebag!

The work should speak for itself, simple as that.  Good work is good work, regardless of where you studied, or who you worked for. Name dropping and connections may get your toe in the door ( which is great,  I agree ) but the work has to stand up.

Nov 26, 18 5:19 pm
Sharky McPeterson

Call me crazy, but — you should try to attend the best school that you can reasonably afford. Wow, doesn’t that sound like a novel idea?

Nov 26, 18 5:41 pm

Oh shut up. Your not as sharp as you think yo u are. It's not point.

Sharky McPeterson

Hmm , seems like a logical response.


I want to go to Princeton and watch the Spaniard that was bumped down to make room for the token woman Dean do a slow burn in the corner. Then I could learn a lot from Brad Pitt's squeeze pontificating on ephemeral  fabric structures. Worth 60k a year easy. Where's my checkbook...

Nov 26, 18 5:43 pm

imagine being dumb enough to think monica ponce de leon is nothing more than a "token woman"


Going to a top school is aligned with ambition and goals.  It is much different than rolling off the couch to the local community college cause it's close to home and cheap.  Yes there are exceptions to this on both sides...but in general more ambitious people go to top schools because they made the cut in a selective process and are typically exposed to higher level classmates, professors, and practitioners because of it.

Nov 26, 18 6:10 pm

Yes, it is not easy to get into top schools. But it does not guarantee success. If one can get into one, one should. One will experience how the top notch people think and work. 

There are many successful architects when went to regular schools too.


This is like watching the Indians stampede a herd of buffalo off the cliff.

Nov 26, 18 8:05 pm
Non Sequitur

That's offensive. They prefer to be called bisons.


NS: Ka-ching. Very good.


I've worked with a lot of "ivies" they are more sophisticated than us "state school" types - its us that do all the production though.

I've also noticed that Ivy league grads are more astute in office politics and can maneuver better into the more higher level design situations - 

Is it worth all the extra tuition? - then a recession comes along and how can the Ivy league folks pay their high priced loans?

It's a battle between pragmatism and idealism

Nov 27, 18 11:58 am

is it a battle though? you see "them" as idealists? I believe their ideals are more in the bank account and the house in the hamptons than architecture or "work"; that's why the tuition is not an issue, it's a fee to enter the club.


I don’t agree with this statement at all. For every brilliant student from a “prestigious” school, I can show you 3-4 that are mediocre at best. The same thing goes for “state” school kids. I’ve only just graduated a couple of months ago, but the office I’m working at has a mixed bag of employees in every position


Xen, it's a battle between getting fired and doing the firing ;)


so much innocence it hurts : then a recession comes along and how can the Ivy league folks pay their high priced loans? don't ever ask this question openly in your office.


the type of ability, drive and ambition that it takes to get into an ivy, is what it takes to really succeed in architecture as opposed to just getting by busting out retail malls

Nov 27, 18 12:46 pm

seems like you made up your mind on the subject, no point in trying to argue, but I will say this; family, tradition and money are usually before ability, drive and ambition when it comes to admissions to those institutions. professional success has also very little to do with those.


As someone that attended one of those institutions without family, tradition, or money, I would say that the real answer is somewhere between what both of you are claiming.


The people at the office where I work that did attend the  "top" schools, are all H1-B from China

Nov 27, 18 3:01 pm

And where did the people study that tell you what to do?


Cornell, SCI-Arch, Harvard, U of Penn, U of Mich, Columbia

Nov 27, 18 5:11 pm


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