March 31, 2014

Which Grad School to attend?

T'is the season. I have seen a Facebook status or two and some friends have talked to me about the issue they have to deal with career-wise. I’m talking about the issue to decide where to go for Graduate School. 

One of my friends was asking me for a direct answer whether they should go to pursue their M.Arch. Usually when anyone swing the discussion to ask me what I think they should do, I tend to give a vague response.  As hard as it is to make choices concerning life and career, no one can make that decision for you. It just leads to a bad result if you heavily rely on others choices and views. I think about my high school experience when I chose courses based on my parents wishes and not my passion. I razed a little hell and I damn well pushed to pursue my passion in architecture and design.

My advice tends to circle around the following list. We know that financial factors are huge issues that determine where you go.  How comfortable are you to take on loans and expenses living outside of town. I thought I would throw in a few words of wisdom away from the practical issues to deal with. When it comes to the choices that work for you and you can comfortably go for, then the discussion should go beyond a school’s name and prestige.

Here are some important things to look into before you decide:
Which school aligns with your values, interests & design process 
Each school will have their own philosophy, focus, and way of teaching so pick the one which you feel you will operate at your best in. Some schools have a direction that works with individuals who think like-minded. Some schools will have that professor that has a research focus to your thesis and interests. Seek out and find that school.  
Which school will challenge and hone your capabilities 
Which environment will hone your talents and skills and push you to newer heights? You want to be in a school that will be willing to equally invest in your development as much as you have invested your tuition in them. This means also basing it on your experience from undergrad and your rapport with your peers and professors.  
Which school will make you well rounded as an architect 
In general, the guideline in any discipline of study is to attend a different university that is the opposite of your school’s philosophy and approach for graduate school. If you did your architectural undergrad in a technical and pragmatic school – you go to a theoretical school and vice versa. The reason is to have different perspectives to get the big picture of things. it’s good to have a well rounded education and have a balanced view of a field that is quite polarizing in views.  
Which school feels like home 
I remember my high school career counselor telling my senior year to just wander the campus of their college options and sit down for a bit and ask yourself if you can see yourself as a student in that environment. You need to ask yourself which one you can easily settle in and feel like you are at home. Visit the school, talk to the professors, talk to the students, attend the lectures. 


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