QUESTIONS TO PONDER
To start with, we are discussing your future as an architect. Specifically, your future as an architecture student. Before we discuss today’s topic, here are the more recent essays listing on the website; check them out to catch up.
Just this morning, we came across an article on Architizer connected to the admission process and related to the more recent essays on ARCHCareersGuide.com. The article, 8 Questions Future Architecture Students Should Ask was authored by Samantha Raburn Markham, AIA, a newly licensed architect at Stantec Architecture in Plano, Texas. She is behind the blog, The Aspiring Architect, and recounts her journey to become qualified and acts as an insightful guide to all those following a similar path into the profession.
- Are you slightly interested in another major?
- How much time and money do you want to spend on school?
- What technology and fabrication tools do they offer?
- Do they offer a study abroad program?
- What size university and program are you looking for?
- Are summers required?
- What is the style of the program?
- What do the professors offer?
Above are the eight questions from the Architizer article. Are all valid questions (with the exception of #6 IMHO), but below are a series of related questions that you might PONDER when selecting an architecture program.
1A. What is your confidence level in becoming an architect?
When meeting with prospective architecture students over the years, I would share the differences between the two primary degree paths – 5-year Bachelor of Architecture and 4+2 year Master of Architecture. Further, the Bachelor of Architecture was perhaps better suited for those with a high-confidence level while the Master of Architecture route was better suited for those with a NOT so high-confidence level.
2A. What NAAB architecture degree program do you wish to pursue?
What will be your path to an architectural degree? In the early 1980s, there were basically only two choices – the 5-year Bachelor of Architecture or the 4+2 year Master of Architecture. Now, many years later, there are many more paths to these same degrees; as pointed out in the article, there are now 5-year Master of Architecture as well as 4+1 year Master of Architecture. And now there is the Doctor of Architecture available at the University of Hawaii.
Aside from time, the question might be which degree path provides the most choices. Personally, I chose a 4+2 Master of Architecture that allowed me the option to attend a different graduate program; plus, the first two years of the curriculum were designed in such a way that a student could have pursued another major and still graduate in four years.
Use the new resource, Architecture Programs on the website to research the degrees offered by each of the institutions offering architecture programs; from there, visit their academic unit website to further explore their degree offerings.
3A. What studio space is available to students? What other spaces or resources exist for students—resource center (library), shop, computer labs, digital fabrication lab?
Because you will be provided a personal workspace in a studio, the quality of the facilities must be considered—more so than for many other majors. The culture of the studio and access to it can directly affect your choice. What are the hours of the studio? Investigate the other facilities—shop, architecture library, and computer labs.
4A. What programs/resources are in place to assist you in gaining direct experience in the field? cooperative education? internships? exposure to practicing architects?
What programs are in place to assist you in gaining direct experience in the field during summers or after graduation? How does the program connect with the professional community and its alumni? Some schools, including the University of Cincinnati; Drexel University; University of Detroit, Mercy; and Boston Architectural College, have cooperative education programs that require students to work in the profession while in school.
5A. Who are the students? Where are they from? What are the demographics of the student body (gender, age, ethnicity, etc.)?
In searching for a program, consider the educational backgrounds of your future classmates. What proportion are international students, and from what countries do they come? Attending a program with international students can enhance your architectural education. You will spend a great deal of time with your fellow students, and you should be comfortable with them. Consider that many institutions have more than one architecture degree program, which means you may interact with students in degree programs other than your own.
7A. What is the philosophy of the architecture program?
What is the philosophy of the academic unit and of the faculty? Some schools are technically oriented, while others are design oriented. Does the school lean in one direction more than the other? What is the mission statement of the architecture program? The approach of the programs you consider should be in concert with your own ideas of architecture. Learn about these differences in approach and decide which fits you. Below is a mission statement of an architecture program.
Prepare students for professional leadership and lifelong learning in architecture, urbanism, and related fields.
8A. Who are the faculty?
Who are the faculty? How many are pure academicians versus practicing architects? Are they new to the profession or seasoned faculty? What is the diversity of the faculty? Faculty brings academic courses to life. Read the faculty biographies and seek to attend a class or meet a faculty member when you visit the school. Do the faculty appear like they would inspire you, motivate you, help you learn? Pay attention to how many faculty members are practitioners first and educators second. What difference does that make in the quality of teaching?
Clearly, there are many factors / issues to consider when selecting an architecture program; factors / issues are most important to you? One could argue that it is the most critical decision on your path to becoming an architect.
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