NJIT vs. Syracuse Architecture

Son is seriously torn: $0 debt at NJIT vs. at least $50,000 debt at Syracuse, entering a fairly low paid field. He isn’t drawn to sports or partying. Which would you choose??

NJIT. Sports and partying are a large share of the appeal of SU, for many. They’ve made the news far too often in the past year, for issues that would give me pause even at cost parity. He’ll get a great architecture education and NJIT, and the vibe may actually suit him better… and graduating debt-free will give him so much more freedom to pursue opportunities based on what he loves and not just the need to maximize income.

Have him look closer at the opportunities that could help him get more excited about NJIT - the established exchange programs for architecture students in Austria and Denmark, for example.

Newark and Syracuse, as cities, are both “meh”… but Newark is a half-hour train ride from Manhattan.

I can’t see SU being worth the debt.

@NEastDad, Is your son still expecting additional admissions decisions from other schools of architecture, or is the final choice between these two? If there’s potential for other acceptances in the next few months, then I’d hold out until you have the complete picture.

How a debt of USD50K will impact your family depends on a host of financial factors. “Worth” really has to be looked at in context of what your family can afford, what your son ends up doing with his degree and where he does it. These are complicated considerations.

Syracuse and NJIT offer very different experiences, comparing both the parent institution and the schools of architecture. Again, you would have to consider your son’s aspirations – e.g., the kind of firms he would like to work for and the kind of projects he would like to work on.

It’s not so easy for a high school student to project out what he wants to be doing in 10 years, but the first step is to evaluate the personalities and cultures of the schools he’s considering. Look at the firms at which current students hold interships and that recent graduates have joined. Study the profiles of the faculty, the backgrounds of the visiting professors and critics, the networking opportunities among alumni.

Architecture school is intense with a high level of fall out, so you don’t want to start with a negative attitude.

@NEastDad I would add that schools of architecture that offer the BArch fall into three general categories.
Art Schools like RISD, Pratt
Tech Schools like NJIT and others with “technology” in their names
Design Schools like Syracuse, and most programs sited within large universities

The curriculum of the BArch is standardized and regulated by the national architecture board so the same material is covered in all three, but the overarching focus, the culture and the personality will vary from school to school.

Art schools focus on the design, creativity side of architecture. The other majors that they offer will also be driven by design. Of course the curriculum still covers technology, structures and sustainability, but the emphasis is really on creativity.

Tech schools focus on technology and structures. The requisite hours of studio time is definitely there, but, again, the emphasis is on building not designing. The other majors offered will usually involve some element of tech: computer science, engineering etc.

Design schools offer a blend of of both. The parent universities will offer a wide range of majors, both liberal arts and professional.

None of these types is better than the others, just different. All will graduate well trained, hire-able architects. Your son should think about which focus is the best fit for him.

1 Like