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    Take Control of Your Curriculum

    By AIAS
    May 23, '17 11:49 AM EST

    Cameron Townsend, Graduate student

    I was one of the youngest people in my undergraduate graduating class. I went directly into architecture school my first semester of college and never slowed down, averaging 18 credit hours a semester, and usually taking courses over the summer. I managed to get decent grades, but I always felt pressed for time. I couldn't help but feel that I could have done a better job on my schoolwork if I just had more time. Unfortunately, you cannot squeeze more hours into a day, but you can choose how to spend the hours that you do have.

    I decided to take a different approach for my graduate degree. I took the traditional 2-year master's degree and spread it out over 3 years. By cramming fewer classes into a semester, I was able to focus more on the classes that I took. For me, this equated to the difference between just doing the work to get the grade and doing the work to fully learn and retain the material. Another big factor in this decision was landing a job at a local architecture firm. Luckily, my bosses were supportive of my education and let me work part-time, fitting my hours around my classes. I have gained valuable (and quantifiable) experience by being able to work throughout my graduate degree. By the time I graduate, I will have completed all 3,740 hours of the AXP.

    My point is not to say that that there is a right and wrong way to approach your education. In fact, the path I followed would not work for everyone. While there were many benefits, I also missed out on of some of that good old studio culture camaraderie during my graduate degree. Instead, I would like to stress the importance of taking control of your own curriculum and tailoring it so it fits and benefits you. If you are going to pour thousands of dollars and years of your life into the pursuit of a degree, you might as well make sure you get the most out of it. Below are a few tips from someone who followed both the conventional and unconventional routes:

    - Sit down and define your own goals for your education and decide what curriculum can help you achieve them. Reevaluate often.

    - Familiarize yourself with the required course load and all of your options. You may be able to take required courses out of order, choose electives from outside your degree program, substitute a class, or pursue an independent study.

    -Your advisor can be a phenomenal resource. Get to know him or her and check in at the beginning of each semester to make sure you are on track to graduate. Make sure he or she has a written copy of your current plan to graduate and any changes you may have made to your curriculum with an instructor. 

    - Ask questions! Your peers, instructors, and advisor probably know the best combinations of classes for your interests, which classes are notoriously difficult, which classes can be taken pass/fail, and much more.

    Good luck!



     
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About this Blog

Want to know if UNM SA+P is the right school for you? Stay tuned as the 2016-2017 UNM AIAS board delves into what life is like within and beyond the walls of the University of New Mexico's School of Architecture and Planning. From the greater Southwest to our own studio culture and family, this blog series will highlight just some of what makes the UNM SA+P experience so unique.

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