Feb '09 - Oct '09
I’ve been dreading writing this last entry for weeks now, but I think it’s finally time to come clean. I’ve made the big decision and I’m transferring to New School of Architecture and Design in San Diego. It’s a tough decision for a lot of personal reasons—I’ve lived in Boston for 10 years now and it’s just started to feel like home. All of my friends, networks and associations are here. So naturally moving cross country alone is a difficult decision. And transferring to a relatively new and unknown school was also a decision that required a lot of introspection.
People who know me or have met me in the past year know that I am all about the BAC. And I think I kinda shocked a lot of my classmates when I told them I was leaving. And I do want to make it clear that my decision to leave has little to do with the quality of education at the BAC. And I whole-heartedly believe that achieving a BAC degree is an impressive feat in and of itself. It is however, unfortunate but true that the present economy has had a pretty drastic impact on the BAC. Since the BAC requires work credits in segments, students who can’t find internships or who have been laid off, are having a difficult time moving forward with their education.
The school has taken certain measures to accommodate for the recession. They are now allowing students to earn their Practice Credits (their required work hours) by participating in competitions, working in “alternative” related job fields such as HVAC work or construction, and they are even giving practice credits for travel and volunteer work.
The changes have been good for some people, but not for others. Some students prefer having the opportunity to do work in other related fields. Some are taking the chance to participate in competitions that otherwise wouldn’t fit into their schedules. For many students though, it’s just not enough.
For myself, at 28 years old, if I’m going to make the long sacrifice to attend a 5 year program, it better be doing “double-duty” by living up to its marketing pitch that students who graduate from the BAC are ready to take their licensing exams. This can’t happen obviously since working in an alternative field does not earn you IDP credits.
I should say however, that the job market looks like it’s improving, and I do know a few students who have found jobs. More than one person in the industry has told me that they believe in the next 6 months we will begin to see projects which have been on hold, starting up again. All good things for the BAC.
I’ve been asked by a lot of people whether or not I would’ve stayed if I had a better outlook in the job market. Knowing what I know now about the differences between a “typical” academic program and the BAC’s program…probably not. After having the AOP experience, I’ve realized the value in a studio culture. There’s a element of collaboration and camaraderie that I don’t think is present in the Concurrent Program at the BAC. On the flip side, the BAC’s emphasis on learning through work is one of a kind. I’m not sure I’ve heard of another program that has a similar philosophy. So given my personal circumstances, as well as learning style preferences, opting out of the BAC ended up making a lot of sense.
I will be closing this blog, and hopefully another BAC student will pick it up and run with it. To everyone at the BAC, Thank You! Good Luck! And Come Visit San Diego! And to all who have been following this blog…I plan on continuing writing for New School of Architecture….see you there.