@architect538, Congratulations on some strong acceptances. I don’t know much about U of Tennessee’s architecture program so I’m not in a position to compare one to one; however, DI’s ranking would be fairly low on my list of important criteria to consider when making a decision. To me, the key points of differentiation would be the cost of attendance, the culture of the institution that the program resides in and the appeal of each geographic location.
As with any undergraduate decision, finances are the first consideration. How does the cost of each align with what your family can afford? What’s the actual cost differential, how much (if any) debt is involved?
Because the curriculums of BArch programs are regulated by the architecture board, you can be assured that you will study more or less the same material wherever you end up. Nevertheless, you may prefer the environment of a tech school, an art school or a design school within a “full service” university. None is better than another, just different.
Firms tend to hire locally both for internships during your school years and for entry level jobs after graduation, so where you intend to practice is another factor to consider. I think this is where name recognition is most influential: Schools with wider reputations have a wider hiring radius. I’m not denying the power of prestige, but I wouldn’t put it above cost and fit.
So in making your decision, evaluate the comparative costs, the culture of the parent institution and the appeal of the geographic location. You should also look at features of each program: the strength of the faculty, the background of visiting professors and critics, study abroad opportunities, thesis requirements and multi-disciplinary degree programs.
Ask the individual programs for specific information on the types of internships student have held and the jobs they’ve landed post graduation. BArch programs are notorious for high drop out rates, so they tend to be generous with their time to address applicants’ questions and concerns. Take advantage of the information on offer.