December 16, 2013

Why I am NOT applying for M.Arch (right now)

For Canadian Architecture students like me, there is a pressure on those who want to become fully licensed architects. The baseline is the M.Arch as all Canadian undergraduate schools of architecture do not offer the accredited 5-year B.Arch (In Canada,  we have what is known as the “4+2 system” in the US).

I do have some sense of urgency to get it done. After two years of falling behind and taking a year after graduation to get a full-time job, well let’s just say things have not gone as planned. By 25 I was expecting to be done most, if not all of my schooling. Here I am in my mid-twenties feeling as if I should be applying.

Funny thing is, I do not want to apply at this point in my life. When asked, I point to financial and personal reasons. Those feelings of “I should” come up from time to time. I do get insecure - feeling like my life is at a standstill or I am the slow poke.

I guess this blog post is a bit of a defense mechanism - I am enjoying my hiatus outside of the womb of the Architortural Academy but I do fret about when the time comes for me to go to grad school or not and if I will miss it. Right now, I do not believe I am ready for applying to any M.Arch program and these are the reasons I choose NOT to go for M.Arch just yet, and probably should also make you consider if you are ready for applying to go for an M.Arch:

You do not know what to specialize in 
One of my professors mentioned that any M.Arch application should have a good sense of knowing what you want to specialize during your studies and even which professor you would like to learn from.  I am still figuring out what I want to do in Architecture, what I want to specialize in my research and thesis. This still a struggle to figure out right now for my interests seem to have circled around pedagogy, public accessibility to the profession, sustainable buildings & landscapes, to public interest/socially conscious design – and it might shift as I figure out more in the years go by.

You do not even have work experience 
I would like to see a building I helped in the design go from conceptual to fully built and that has not happened yet. There is a benefit of going back to masters with having worked at a firm for a few years – you actually have an understanding of what it takes to get something built, how to streamline your work process, and how to be more proficient as a designer. I attended a studio review for two good friends of mine who were doing their masters. Both of them worked a year or two prior and you can see how the experience greatly helped them in their studio project (how to work effectively).  Another issue is testing the waters before swimming into the deep end. I do not want to commit to a field unless I get a good understanding of what it requires and see if I love what I do. I am a cautious guy that cautiously checks myself from time to time if I am on the right path of doing what I love. Graduate school is an expensive investment in time and money. To commit your time, money and energy into something you might hate is a big letdown.  

Other alternatives for design practice 
Depending on where you live, there are some small buildings that do not require a license. So depending on what projects you are interested in, you may be able to design as a building code certified designer as opposed to becoming a licensed architect. There are even ways to become a licensed architect without studying. These alternatives I have yet to look into, but there are other options besides going for an M.Arch. It might mean, however, limitations on building type, building size, and higher insurance rates.  

Who am I? Besides the Architecture Geek 
So I know 6 years of studying has made me into an Archi-holic. And I am a person that wants to be well-rounded and not just known as the Architect-guy. 6 years is a long time for me in college. I jumped right in after high school meaning most of my life was spent in the classroom.  I find myself mired in the field but curious to figure out what else is there for me outside of Architecture. Since graduation I have invested in things like bootcamp to comedy workshops. Other goals and plans I have before heading to masters will be coming up in the next year. I know I`m sounding like the atypical aspiring Architect...but I choose to have a life and do things that can inform me as a designer but also develop as a better person. If you haven`t made time to explore your interests outside of architecture, when will you even have the opportunity when you have to dedicate time to licensing exams, and internships hours?

Besides the ultimate issue of funds and if i can afford to go to Grad School is another issue. These are the personal reasons why I am not applying as of yet. I guess it is because I have not matured like good wine to be ready to invest in upgrading my education. There is so much I want to explore and more that I must question before taking my next steps in my career. Till then, I am concerned with the here and now.

Going for a M.Arch - Dive in or wait a little? (PART II)
Going for a M.Arch - Dive in or wait a little? (PART I)
Should I stay or should I go? (Part II)

1 comment:

  1. 6 years taking up Archi? If you're an Archi-holic, what do you call someone like me whose already 9 and 1/2 years in college --- an Archi-addict? Hahaha!

    Well, just like you, I have this issue with funds too. Right now, I'm freelancing through oDesk and I started blogging again so I can finance my studies somehow.

    I didn't know that there are ways to become a licensed architect without studying in Canada --- COOL! =)