GRADUATE PROGRAM: POST PANDEMIC
Below is a special guest entry written by Ms. Charlotte W. who applied to Master of Architecture programs for Fall 2020 but instead will attend this fall. Learn from her experience over the past year. — Thanks, Charlotte!
You may wish to read her first contribution to ARCHCareersGuide.com from March 2020
I learned I was admitted to a graduate architecture program in the Winter 2020, receiving my acceptance letter one month before COVID-19 shut down the world. When I was admitted, I had every intention to quit my position, move out of my apartment in Boston, and start my new career in a matter of months. But, as the COVID started to spread, I was worried about the growing severity of the pandemic and I knew it would probably have an impact on the format of the education I would receive. I deliberated a great deal on the decision, but I ultimately decided a year would be worth the wait. So, instead of following my initial plan, I submitted a request for deferral, moved back home with my parents, and continued working as an analyst at the data analytics firm I joined after college.
While I always felt good about my decision, this past year was a long one. During this past year, we were all faced with challenges and obstacles we have not normally had to confront. One of my biggest frustrations was grappling with this newfound stagnancy. I felt like I needed to figure out a way to keep working towards my career in architecture. However, I soon realized it would be challenging to do this, especially during a pandemic. I reached out to former employers and connections in architecture for more advice, but most of what they told me was somewhat general – more or less along the lines of “you could do this, but you are going to learn all the important stuff and gain a good experience in school”. While somewhat discouraging, I knew they were right. So, this past year I really did not do too much to prepare for school. I stayed home, saved money, and watched sadly as the pandemic continued to take a toll on the world.
Now, it is mid-July, over a full year after I made my decision to defer. I am in the middle of a foundational summer program that lasts six weeks and is mandatory for all first-year graduate students that attend my institution. I also made the move to Providence, RI, which will be my home for the next three years. Everything is still virtual, but the school is optimistic about opening up this fall. So now I spend most of my days in zoom class or working on my computer since most of our assigned work is digital. It is tough, but after waiting so long to start classes, I am immensely grateful for every assignment handed our way. In hindsight, maybe I could have taken extra steps to prepare by taking free tutorials in Rhino and AutoCAD. But, despite going in almost completely blind, I am here and surviving so far.
At the end of the day, I think the most important thing is that I had the full year to reflect and realize I really wanted to attend a graduate program to obtain my degree in this field. That is my biggest takeaway to impart on others interested in applying to obtain their graduate degree; take as much time as you need to reflect on your decision, what is driving you to this career path, and what excites you about the challenges it presents. I hope no one else is set back by a year due to a pandemic, but in hindsight, I am ultimately grateful for it.