Thursday, February 11, 2010

Photography Schools Ratings & Rankings

These days, it often seems like we are in a constant struggle to present the perfect resume. You need experience, you need references, and, above all, you need a notable education. As such, it is understandable that people may be exceedingly interested in what the schools are in their field. When it comes to photography, though, these rankings may be difficult to interpret. If you insist on investigating rankings and ratings before making a decision about what school you want to go to, there are a couple of things you may want to know.

First, know what the rankings actually mean. There may be multiple sources for these rankings available online. The most reputable source is easily the US News and World Report rankings, published annually. How do they develop their rankings? 40% of their score relies on the ratings of peer faculty in the industry. Another 30% has to do with the amount of funding the school receives for development and experimental arts. The remaining 30% is a mixture of class size, amount of faculty, GPA, and graduation rates. Not much of this has to do with the actual quality of a program, or whether or not it would be a good fit for you as a student and artist. While other rankings may be available on other sites, and those rankings may be based on anything from opinion to percentage of students hired after graduation, none are very thoroughly researched or vetted. Bottom line? The rankings do not really matter.

Second, you should always research the ranked schools to make sure the program would be a good fit for you. Will you have access to your professors on a regular basis? Are the classes more classical or experimental in nature? How many hours are required? Are students required to live on campus for any amount of time? These are all issues that will impact your education, as well as your life in general. Just because a school is well thought of by other members of the community does not mean it will prepare you for the rest of your life. Just because they have a lot of money does not mean it is going to be spent on you and your interests. Do your research.

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