April 16, 2013

Should I stay or should I go? - Part I

So in the past year, I have visited the top 3 schools on my M.Arch wish list. Two are in NYC, and one in Toronto. Just recently watched my two good friends present their comprehensive studio projects last weekend and has really given me some thought to consider when I should go for grad school, as well as where I want to study. I'm kinda wanting to not commit "University Incest", but there is also some benefit of studying in the same school you did your undergrad.

One of my friends that introduced me to the term "University Incest," which is continuing your graduate studies at the same college you were in for undergrad. For architecture students who are seeking a professional M.Arch degree, and have a pre-professional degree there are two options: Keep going or start afresh. I have also asked some of my friends from different architecture schools in Canada to give me some input. (There are no B.Arch Programs in Canada...it's quintessentially the 4 Arch-related undergrad+2 M.Arch and 3.5 year M.Arch Programs)

For this entry, I will talk about the pros and cons about doing your degree at the same school you did for undergrad. From talking to a few of my friends who have gone to masters and talking to them, here are some points to consider if you would like to do get your M.Arch at the same school:

Same Environment: 
No need to deal with adjustment in a new environment. You might have friends that you studied in undergrad, have the same professors and this is a plus if you have an established rapport in school. This is a great way to dive in to graduate school comfortably - there's no anxiousness for those who are scared of change.
Easier Consideration:  
Some schools care for their undergraduates and have a curriculum that seamlessly segways into their graduate program. Some incentives might include the not requiring reference letters, priority admissions standing, among others like scholarships. 
Less Overlap: 
Because of how a program delivers the topics, as it is a continuation of the pre-professional curriculum setup in that architecture school, there is less chance of overlapping in the curriculum. 
Cost of Living:  
Especially if you live in the same city as your undergrad costs might be lower than relocating.
You might be exposed to much higher profile faculty. Some schools save some of their acclaimed professors for last – some of the most forward thinking, innovative professors and practitioners are people you will get a chance to learn and research with.
Too Comfortable:   
for some, individuals I have talked to, you might not be as challenged as you want to. Some people prefer a change in environment, your own philosophy to be challenged. I have asked some friends who have continued at the same architecture school for graduate studies and I find a lot seem to find it too comfortable, a little easier, and just a continuation of what they did in undergrad. For some people, they might want more.
Pigeonholed and Labeled as the same student you were in undergrad:  
A good friend gave me a good analogy as a reason why I should pursue graduate studies elsewhere: In undergrad you played on the blue side, and in a few years you want to come back to grad school as a red student – your school might just label and force you to stay blue because you were always blue.  This might be a good reason for students who did not have a good performance, lack of good rapport with faculty, or even struggled in architecture school. Opting to study elsewhere for a clean slate might be a better alternative. (i.e. the underdogs)

So there you have it, some of the pros and cons of staying in the same architecture program for both your masters and undergraduate studies. The next entry will look at students who shifted architecture schools to get their M.Arch elsewhere, and I have talked to a few friends that have done so and there are a lot of good points to take.

Should I stay or should I go: Getting your M.Arch in the same architecture school (PART II)
The Underdog Architecture Student`s Response: Save the Architecture Learning for Graduate School
Going for a M.Arch - Dive in or wait a little? (PART I)
Going for a M.Arch - Dive in or wait a little? (PART II)

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