An Education in Design: Top Schools for Aspiring Architects, Landscape Architects and Interior Designers
So you know that you want to be an architect or interior designer but you’re not sure what steps you need to take to become one. You’re questioning which option is best for you - Do you want to take courses online? Do you want to attend a class in person? Which school is best to attend?
While the last question is one of the most difficult answers to provide, we want to help you attain your dream job by explaining the most important qualities you need to look for in a school that will help you prosper as a future architect or interior designer!
1) Admission Requirements
Every school will have certain entry requirements. Some may consider your high school grades as a sufficient entry, while others may expect a combination of your grades and a portfolio to obtain admission. When looking at their requirements, it is important to consider what the school is asking of you because it determines whether or not it would be a good fit. For example, certain schools may expect a portfolio that outlines past projects. This would be problematic for you if you're at a stage where you are uncertain how to even draft a plan. You could also struggle if their grade requirement is higher than you can achieve, so look for a school that would be willing to teach you the fundamentals you need to know rather than assume you already have the skill set.
Just because a school is highly reputable and is ranked as a top school in the world, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be the best school for you. While these rankings may influence your decision, consider a school that is known for having an outstanding program in your field. That will be the most beneficial ranking for you to follow, rather than choosing a school that has gained its popularity through other programs or achievements.
In addition to viewing their program ranking, you should also compare first year retention rate and student satisfaction rankings. While your program is the most important element to the school, you still want to make sure your experience will be enjoyable. If the school indicates a low first year retention rate then you should consider why that could be happening. By comparing that rate to the student satisfaction rate, you can potentially discover the underlying reasons for students either dropping out or staying.
Another aspect you need to consider is the location of the school. If your program includes co-operative education or internships, then you need to recognize that you will be making connections with the local companies surrounding the school. If you got offered a job opportunity would you be willing to stay in that area after you're done school? Can you commute to school or will you need to move away from home? Are there areas of interest around the school? If you are uncomfortable and unfamiliar with the location of the school then there is a higher chance of you being unhappy with your choice.
4) Professor Ratings
Similar to how you choose your friends based on first impressions, you want to be well aware of the reputations of the professors at your future school. Are they known to be fair or unfair markers? Did previous students appear to struggle in their classes? Were the professors known to digress from course topics and make the class a difficult learning environment? If you’re researching the professors that will teach your potential classes and notice a continuous trend of complaints about them, then you will want to reevaluate your choice. They are ultimately the people responsible for making your experience enjoyable or miserable, and for making sure you are fully equipped to enter the workforce.
5) Course Content
This is one of the most important elements you need to research if you want to make sure you’re in the right program. When browsing programs, you can typically find a course breakdown that shows you the courses you’ll be enrolled each semester. Look through each course listed and explore what the course details. For example, if you want to eventually lead your own architecture firm, you will want to consider a program that features courses that will help you learn project management and the important traits that are required so that you can one day successfully have your own firm. If however, you want to be the one that is heavily responsible for the design within a firm, then you will want to consider a program that will equip you with the necessary design skills to impress a future employer.
6) Alumni Success Stories
Each university sends a survey to their graduates six months after completing their studies to see if they obtained employment. You should research this study from the past two years to see how plausible it will be for you to get a job after graduating from your chosen school. In addition to the survey, you can read alumni news to discover what type of jobs the alumni are getting after school.
Think you know what school is best for you? Why not compare it to the schools that have the top rated program in the world!
Top 5 Architecture Schools in the World*:
* based on the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2015
Cover Photo © Savannah College of Art & Design