As a student of architecture, I can vouch for the fact that one has to master a large number of skills during the five-year journey through architecture college and the cumulative grade points average (CGPA) awarded at the end of the semester is decided upon the level of execution of those very skills aside from parameters such as technical soundness and individuality when it comes to design. 

Mastering these skills whether it is software knowledge or expertise in physical work such as hand drafted sheets or model making takes time and varies from person to person but that is hardly ever considered when marking or assigning grades to the students at the end of a semester. 

It is always just assumed that one will and has to prepare themselves however required to meet the standard of requirements for submission, never taking into consideration that their area of expertise or interest may lie in other domains or that the period of learning and level of competence achieved might have had an effect on the work produced.

Design is subjective 

Design itself is something that cannot be assessed only by being objective, it is highly subjective in nature and the extent of its success might vary greatly based on an external perspective and their liking. Apart from the obvious mistakes that do not consider important factors such as occupant comfort and environmental impacts, there really is no one correct way to design. 

Therefore, I think that the marks/grades assigned to us during the course of our architectural education are never a fair representation of an individual’s potential. The CGPA achieved is majorly based on luck, depending on whether or not a person is open and receptive to ideas and concepts different from their tastes. 

Creativity cannot be measured

Architecture is a subject that cannot be weighed only in terms of technical accuracy. It taps into the creative side of a person and continues to evolve throughout a person’s lifetime and the collegiate system of marking often fails to recognize the individuality of a student due to the structured format in which the educational system functions. It expects the same level of output from each student and does not make much room for those who fail to do so.

What do marks assess?

Marks obtained during the years spent in architecture college can only attest to the knowledge that is mostly theoretical. In no way does it prepare a student adequately, for the curriculum in general lacks the kind of exposure that trains a student for what the field requires out in the real world. There is an enormous gap between what is taught and what is actually expected of the student once they enter the field professionally. 

Hence CGPA really does not amount to much in terms of being able to justly assess how a student fairs in terms of his/her architectural prowess. I have often seen students who do not fare well in their class curate and produce some of the most skilled and touching pieces of work that the rigidity of a classroom prevents them from indulging in.

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The Importance of Architectural Portfolios over CGPA

As far as the relevance of marks is concerned, firms rarely ever ask for the CGPA for the same reasons mentioned previously. Architectural portfolios are far more important in this regard. Portfolios and a personal interview in some cases are what determine the acceptance into architectural firms. Portfolios are all-encompassing as they are formulated right from scratch and in my opinion, is the most liberal and independent manner of expressing oneself to the company/ firm that we wish to secure a position in. 

Portfolios not only put to test the knowledge and expertise in software that a student claims to possess but also bring out their taste in aesthetics through the act of composition and the entirety of curating the folio that lets the designer understand the maker of the folio in ways that are incredibly up close and personal. Portfolios are a physical manifestation of someone’s personality, let alone their skills and accomplishments that are much more effective in being able to judge a student’s potential as opposed to the system of evaluation as established in architecture colleges.

Where exactly does the CGPA matter?

The only place where a person’s CGPA tends to matter is when a person considers going for higher education and that is what the norm is throughout the globe. When pursuing higher studies, the grades/ marks achieved in one’s previous educational qualification become important. That is the only circumstance under which a person’s CGPA becomes relevant.

Does CGPA really matter?

Architecture functions differently as compared to other courses, especially in this regard. The CGPA/ graduating marks decide the fate of a student in most cases but not in architecture. A person’s CGPA in my opinion does not have any significance unless they want to opt for higher education as architecture allows one to showcase their abilities and interests in a manner that is much more within their control and make that their stepping stone towards opportunities that come their way in life.

Meghna Sanyal
Author

Meghna Sanyal is a final year student of architecture. She is an absolute conversationalist and finds happiness in the process of translating that into written verse. She aims to demystify the subject of architecture by making it more accessible to everyone through her writing.

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