Graduation is Almost Nigh

It can be sort of amazing how life unfolds. Earlier this semester I was sure of a few things:

  • I’m going to graduate school.
  • I’m going to be leaving Cincinnati (extension, Ohio).
  • I’m going to know what I want to focus on in graduate school.

You may have noticed a trend. Since about my second year at DAAP, I was pretty much set in the fact that I was going to graduate school for my masters in architecture. The way licensing works, for those who don’t know, is that in order to take the tests to become an architect you have to a.) Intern several thousand hours in predefined categories. b.) Have an accredited degree*. c.) Pass the ARE (Architect Registration Examination). (*There are some states where if you work under a registered architect for 5+ years, you become eligible to take the exam).

Not too long ago the norm for architecture school was five years at a university and then, given the university was accredited by NAAB, you’d have an accredited architecture degree. It has since then been changing to a four plus two deal; four years of undergrad, and then two years at the graduate level. From talking to professors, this change was for a few reasons.

  • Five years, while being a good amount of time, isn’t necessarily enough. Definitely an arguable point.
  • Getting another university’s theory/teaching system can be really beneficial (aka. You’re not drinking punch just from one bowl).
  • This will give universities more money.

I’m sure there are probably other reasons universities are making the switch, but we’ll stick to that short list. So, back to my first list, I applied to graduate school over winter break and into January (stress!), and then was notified of my acceptances (and decline) around March. I applied, and was accepted, to the University of Oregon, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, University of Cincinnati, and Rhode Island School of Design.
(For the sake of being open with you guys, University of Virginia said no way, and Michigan gave me some weird treatment. Out of all the students who applied there from UC, somehow I was the only one moved to their three-year program and put on a waiting list. I’m fine with the waiting list thing, but, the switch of programs confused me.)

I have always semi-fantasized about going to a design/art school. The idea of being around so many other disciplines (and being able to learn from them) is what I love about DAAP (although the taking classes from other majors is a bit more difficult). RISD was the school I applied to not thinking I’d get in, and when I did get accepted there may have been one tiny tear. I visited the school for their Grad Day and it was really nice. Providence seemed like a neat city, and the buildings for the university were beautiful. They had a huge library, and a really neat “Nature Lab”, aka natural science museum but you can touch things. I really wanted to be there; it was semi-close to other relatives in CT, I’d be able to take courses from other majors, it’s out of Ohio, Providence seemed really walkable/bike-able . . . I could go on. Up until a bit over a week ago, I was in full belief that I was going. I had accepted, found a sublet for the summer, I was ready, I was nervous . . .but mostly excited.

The thorn in this story isn’t all that exciting. At the end of the day, when my parents and I went through a budget for how much I’d need to take out in order to pay for RISD we came to the conclusion that it was really, really not feasible for me to go to there. They came to that conclusion earlier than I did, hence why I ended up accepting to two universities. After a emotional talk with my dad, we decided that it was much better of an idea for me to continue my education at DAAP. It was the difference of being $150,000 (plus interest) in debt to maybe $60,000. Seeing that the average salary for an MArch is maybe 55-60k a year, it quickly became apparent that it was too much of a risk for an education that, at the end of the day/years, will give me the same exact piece of paper.

Reasons why other schools were ruled out were based mostly on their curriculum. I valued the proximity of the other majors in DAAP, and that’s what I really wanted to try and take advantage of in grad school. While it may take a bit more pushing, I know I could take classes from the other majors at DAAP too.

I’m a little disappointed, but I know that my experience in graduate school depends a lot on my own actions. I know DAAP has great professors (and books in the library) and while RISD would be amazing (and probably an entirely different experience), maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. RISD allowed me to defer for a year, although unless I win the lottery I don’t really see how the time could change anything (financially, at least). I get three more co-ops at UC, aka trying to find a job/city for after grad school, which is pretty nice and I have my living situation pretty much set (I live with my parent’s now because they live about 15 minutes from campus, driving; I knew that at least if I was staying in Cincinnati, I was for sure moving out for grad school. I don’t feel like driving every day for the next three years.)

I’m gearing up for the summer and looking for an internship either here or Pittsburg (Corey, my boyfriend, is working there at a company called UpperCut.). In addition to that, I’m planning on learning new techniques in some programs, and doing a lot of reading (on design) and just a lot of work.

So, in the end, I think everything is going to be okay–and possibly even better.


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