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Is architecture for me?

isha_blue

Hi all,

This may be a lengthy post, I apologize in advance but would love to receive some advice. 

I had come into architecture school at UT Austin thinking I was going to graduate with a B.Arch (5 year program). I really thought I was living the dream since my high school grades were never that great either. I've always had a passion for art but once I started my degree I wasn't sure if it was me. The first two years I struggled but got into the groove after that and knew I had to do architecture forever.

Unfortunately, UT has a portfolio review after the third year to see if you move on to advanced design, I didn't pass it twice. After the first time, I thought it was my fault since the semester was a little rocky and knew I could do better. The second time came as a complete shock and wasn't what I expected at all. They offered to let me retake the studio one more time or graduate with a B.S. in Architectural Studies this upcoming spring. I didn't see the point of trying again, since it might result in failure and thought with job experience I would be able to go to a graduate program in the future if I really wanted to do architecture. The internship I had was at a top firm, so I know I can learn a lot if I do work there full time and loved my time there in the summer. I'm planning to work for a few years before I apply anywhere. I guess my question is how do I know if architecture is really for me? I've always struggled to do well in it but I love the topic so much. Is it worth to keep trying something that isn't so natural? I'm also worried about getting into a M.Arch program because my undergraduate grades are not that great either (2.8/4), so I know it's going to affect my chances to get into any program in the future. I thought after getting my B.Arch I would be done with school, but to be licensed I will have to do an M.Arch now. Is it worth this much stress or should I think about applying/working in a different type of design field where you don't have to be licensed?

 
Dec 28, 18 2:23 am
randomised

Here's a little secret, you don't have to be licensed to work in architecture...

Dec 28, 18 4:16 am  · 
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geezertect

Ssshhh. Don't let anybody in on our dirty little secret.

Dec 28, 18 7:54 am  · 
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isha_blue

I know that but if you're not licensed would I have trouble moving up positions in the future?

Dec 28, 18 2:45 pm  · 
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randomised

Depends what you want to be doing at other people's firms, the fact you didn't see coming that you wouldn't pass your review again (and add to that your low grades) ...maybe you just don't have what it takes to become a licensed architect, and maybe you shouldn't even want to. I don't know what you did as a summer intern but for sure it had very little to do with what licensed architects are doing most of the time. Look for what you love about architecture and try to do more of that, I'm almost certain you don't need an M.Arch or a license to do those things.

Dec 28, 18 3:17 pm  · 
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Volunteer

Get a letter from your employer attesting to your work product , some samples of your in-class and employment work, the project that failed, and go see the dean. If they are going to derail you after three years it should be the call of the dean.

Dec 28, 18 7:21 am  · 
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isha_blue

I talked to the director already and they said it was a firm decision sadly

Dec 28, 18 2:45 pm  · 
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Volunteer

There is more than one way to skin an armadillo. Go to 'architectcareerguide.com' and see what the different states' requirements are for licensure. Some just require a four-year degree in architecture plus experience, some require a four-year degree in anything plus experience, some don't require any college at all - just experience. Perhaps you can finish the four year degree at Texas and continue elsewhere and not ever have to go to graduate school (which many consider an epic waste of time and money). Please post here what you finally decide.

Dec 28, 18 5:36 pm  · 
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isha_blue

I did not know about this, thank you so much! I'll probably be working in Texas at least for now since that's where I am at the moment after graduation and then either look into a graduate program I'm actually interested in pursing based on how my work experience goes (maybe project management or possibly architecture) or move based on these requirements.

Dec 29, 18 10:25 pm  · 
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Volunteer

Sounds like a good plan. Don't let this bump in the road get you down.

Dec 31, 18 9:16 am  · 
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isha_blue

Quick question, do you know if the work experience requirement for other states means you have to work in that state for it to count as experience or could I work in Texas for five years and then move to California and start the licensing process right when I moved?

Dec 31, 18 4:21 pm  · 
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geezertect

Work a couple of years.  Maybe a design/build firm, or a general contractor or developer.  Get a look at the profession from the real world side before you make a definite conclusion.   Don't let discouraging words from a couple of professors necessarily dissuade you.  Remember, those who can do, and those who can't teach.


Dec 28, 18 7:57 am  · 
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Cosmos

I'm curious as to what may have been the issue for you the fist two years.  Was it a time management issue?  Or not being able to meet certain class requirements?  Such as in structures, drawing classes or studio projects.  

In the past I've seen a lot of students with great potential not being able to succeed due to attention or focus deficiencies.  If this is the case, I say take your time.  Well done Architecture is practiced as the "long-game".   I find that it requires a tremendous amount of patience and discipline to properly practice it, especially if approached due to the interest of art.

Perhaps you could get your BS in Arch., and then save some money to travel and experience life in other countries (or states if you stay in the US).  Then go back to grad school with a different mind-set.  During this period of "reflection" you could be working at jobs related to the field.  I know it sounds expensive, but again, Architecture done well and properly is best pursued with a great deal of patience.  In due time you will get your Masters degree and license, as I believe you should.  But the common path to certain achievements is not for everybody, so it's okay to approach it as you see it fit best for yourself.  The end result is what matters.            

Dec 31, 18 10:41 am  · 
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isha_blue

Hello,

Dec 31, 18 4:21 pm  · 
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isha_blue

I appreciate the advice! I've always been a slower learner than my classmates when making design decisions, so I'm not sure if that was part of the issue. I was also in other organizations to be more immersed in university culture rather than being sucked into my major. Most of my friends in the program lived and breathed architecture 24/7 which I just couldn't do. I don't know if that meant I was less dedicated than them but it could have had some kind of effect. I know I'm a hard worker, which is why random jobs I've had and interning at HKS have always taught me so much more than school because there's that sense of a common goal hence collaboration and a learning curve. School has never been easy for me no matter how much I worked at it and not my niche. I know my strengths lie in planning and organization but my passion lies in creative, so finding something that can combine those would be the best! As for now I don't know what I would like to do in grad school because I'm not sure if M.Arch is the right path for me, but I would like to go after I figure out the best fit.

Dec 31, 18 4:37 pm  · 
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( o Y o )

Threaten to sue and demand a refund. You're paying for an education and they are not delivering. They have no right to exclude you from the program.

Dec 31, 18 11:00 am  · 
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randomised

They do if you don't meet the requirements.

Dec 31, 18 11:35 am  · 
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He met the requirements and was accepted to the program. Suddenly he no longer meets the requirements?

Dec 31, 18 1:59 pm  · 
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randomised

The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Dec 31, 18 3:03 pm  · 
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sounds like a portfolio review to get accepted into the 4th year is a requirement. My assumption is that this is a final culling point for those the school (ie. faculty) doesn't think they "have what it takes.*" It's probably less about the portfolio and more about how you've handled yourself for the past 3 years and gotten along with faculty, etc. In other words, a crap student with an outstanding portfolio probably has about as much of a chance to get into the 4th year as an outstanding student with a crap portfolio.


*As if anyone would actually know what that means

Dec 31, 18 3:57 pm  · 
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Success at school does not equal success in your career. Maybe you're just not a good fit for that particular school's approach. There are lots and lots of ways to succeed in the field, not many of them involve accolades from your University.

Dec 31, 18 3:41 pm  · 
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"the review process considers a student’s body of work as a whole, and its main concern is advising for individual success. It is able to see the student’s longer-term trajectory while identifying his or her evident talents. It aims to develop a better understanding of the performance of the Vertical Studio sequence in realizing the potential of the students, for their own benefit, the school’s, and ultimately the profession’s"

https://soa.utexas.edu/program...


Self-appointed gatekeepers, busy "protecting the profession". Isn't that what NCARB is for?

Sue 'em.

Dec 31, 18 5:02 pm  · 
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Volunteer

The Texas architecture website details a little of what the OP went through. Apparently 30% of the class have to have the "review" done again. It appears that the students put up all their work on an eight-foot wall space and a group of star-chamber professors look at the work without the students being present to decide who they are going to screw over. Then they invite the students in to grill them before they hand out the already made up verdict. Past grades in the courses mean little or nothing. What a Kafkaesque nightmare.  

Dec 31, 18 8:09 pm  · 
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isha_blue

Hi all,

If anyone was interested, I was recently reached out to about this post and I completely forgot that I had written this! 

An update on what has happened since then, I decided to get my B.S. in Architectural Studies and did not want to waste any more time retaking a studio when failing it could have easily happened again. I participated in a 6 week study abroad program focusing on Urban Design/Planning in Munich that summer afterwards through UTSOA and absolutely loved it. I felt like that was my true calling and not architecture. I hope to get my masters in that field instead and while it's all related to a point, receiving my masters in that would be much more specialized and having an architectural background can only help me. I currently work as a designer in California at an architecture firm (almost 2 years) and my degree never had any issues compared to a B.Arch. I have completed my AXP hours since I work there and log them in, but have no intention of taking the exams. California as someone mentioned above does not require a B.Arch to be licensed so if I wanted to be licensed I definitely can take the exams (need extra work experience). I am hoping to switch jobs soon, so I might have issues going up in positions without being accredited but I still have little experience since I graduated in 2019 that I don't think it matters and by the time I get my masters, my lack of a license won't even matter anymore. 

I will say how this all turned out happened to be a blessing because without it I wouldn't have had to force myself to understand my interests and be open to other paths. I also realized my B.Arch friends are starting in the same place as me because it will still take time for them to be licensed, so honestly it doesn't really matter. It also worked out that I graduated before my B.Arch class (pre pandemic) and was able to find a great job while some of them are unfortunately still struggling. It all happened for a reason and I'm glad it played out this way. I do still agree that the way UT approaches the portfolio review before the fourth year is very intimidating and cutthroat. I was not ready for that kind of environment and I can only hope they think about changing things.

May 10, 21 1:56 pm  · 
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midlander

good story. with your adaptability and positive attitude i think you'll find your career goes better and better over time and probably much surpasses the opportunities you'd have had trying to stick to the linear path of a conventional architect.

May 10, 21 9:02 pm  · 
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lbls1

Only you can answer this question.  You may get dozens of responses, but its the drive that comes from within you that will determine if you will make it as an architect.

If you really want to be an architect, then decide for yourself to go after it, and make some plans on how to get there.

May 19, 21 12:05 am  · 
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