Last essay was entitled Graduation vs. Commencement; today’s is 20 years in the future.

Do you know where you will be 20 years after your college / university graduation?  Probably not as it is impossible to forsee the future, but perhaps, the survey results below will provide some insight.  20 years after my graduation from the University of Michigan College of Architecture and Urban Planning, I surveyed my classmates to see where they were in regards to the profession of architecture.  As you will read, it is NOT what you think.

Lorch Column outside College of Architecture & Urban Planning

Did you know where you would be 20 years after your graduation?  Certainly, most graduates would agree that they had no clue to the answer to this question when walking across the stage to collect your degree.  However, what is the actual answer?  Given that it had been 20 years since graduating with my B.S. degree from the College of Architecture and Urban Planning, I sought to determine what my fellow classmates were doing.

In April 2004, with the assistance and support of Dean Douglas Kelbaugh, I mailed a brief survey to the 92 bachelor of science graduates of the class of 1984, almost 20 years to the day after our graduation.  Questions asked related to their further education, training, architectural registration, career field, and experience since graduation.  Of those surveyed, 34 (37%) returned a survey by the stated deadline.

Education – Of those returning the survey, all but five (85%) sought additional education beyond the B.S. degree from Michigan.  As one might expect, the clear majority obtained a master of architecture; other degrees sought included a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a dual bachelor of fine arts/bachelor of architect, master’s degree in teaching, finance, master of science, J.D., and Ph.D.  In addition, two M.Arch. graduates obtained dual M.B.A> degrees while obtain dual M.B.A. degrees while another obtained a dual M.S. in engineering.

Schools – Where did they go for further education?  Again, as one might expect, almost half continued their architectural education at the University of Michigan (48%).  Others pursuing the master of architecture attended the following institutions: Arizona State University, University of California – Berkeley (2), University of Illinois – Chicago, University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign, SCI-ARC, Yale University (2) Rhode Island School of Design, and Cornell.  For graduates pursuing other degrees, they attended: University of Michigan, Michigan Technological University, Wayne State University, and The American University

Registration – Twenty (59%) of the 34 indicated they were presently licensed as an architect.  Nine were licensed in a single state while the remaining eleven were licensed from two to five states.  Two of the graduates are very close to obtaining their license.

Michigan Studio

Career Field – When asked to list their present career field(s), two-thirds indicated architecture.  Other career fields listed included: law, education, sales, historic preservation, design-build, product development, marketing, CAD drafting, mechanical design, urban design, interior design, and my personal favorite, Mom.  Reasons for pursuing other career fields ranged from no funds for further education to architecture was not a good fit.

Advice – As a final ending to the survey, I inquired if my classmates had any advice for others wishing to become an architect.  The advice varied from the “do not do it,” to “travel, sketch, and commit to hard work.”  However, the most common response was to share how an architectural degree prepares one for a myriad of career paths.  Ironically, this advice proves true, as nearly one-third of the graduates returning the survey pursued a career field other than architecture.

…the most common response was to share how an architectural degree prepares one for a myriad of career paths.

So, what will you be doing 20 years after your degree?  Regardless, take the advice of one of my classmates, “you got to have the love!”

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