Should I go to grad school knowing a recession will hit?


I have a bachelor of science in architecture and have known for a while I want to go back for grad school in order to pursue a more academically-oriented job track. I haven't found the professional world the greatest fit for me so I've been wanting to hone my writing skills along with history and theory focus in order to begin a teaching career. 

However, I understand it's ill-advised to find yourself fresh on the job market at the start of a recession so I'm looking for advice on the timing of this decision. Wait a year? Wait 2 years? Wait 3 years? Play it by ear? It's all going to be OK as long as you don't take out loans? 

Aug 28, 19 6:29 pm

I am at a similar position with a bachelors and 2 years work experience in the UK which is heading for a recession due to (the very likely no-deal) Brexit. I want to attend graduate school and I am not sure about the timing. Architecture news sites are saying recruitment is on hold in London and there are fewer vacancies advertised . 

Aug 28, 19 7:08 pm

gotta wait till '28.... give whoever comes after trump some time to fix the mess. i'd suggest grad school now, 2-3 years, then 5-6 years post grad. should give you enough time to learn AI, which will be the only technology we really need in the future... also history & theory have been debunked... stay away

Aug 28, 19 8:39 pm
You can’t predict recessions, don’t base your life decisions around potentials. They’re inevitable as part of a capitalist economy. Some are worse than others. Anything like that of 2008 is a once in a lifetime/generational phenomena. Worst case you spend a couple years after school doing something that isn’t architecture for a few years til the jobs pick back up.
Aug 29, 19 3:13 pm

While I won't say it is a "once in a lifetime/generational" phenomena but I do agree with your essential point. They are rare because we have regulations on lending that has helped us from having as severely bad of a recession as the 2008 once since the great depression which was the only recession worse in the last 100 years. Archinine's point is fairly spot on. There are usually many smaller recessions. While the AEC industry goes through recessions every 6-12 years in much of the past 50 years but that isn't set in stone. 

The regulation that was put in place by Obama's administration may have changed the pattern but if Trump removed all those regulations, it is possible for another recession in 5-10 years from that point but it is not certain how bad it maybe. Predicting if or when is like all the predictions for the second coming of Jesus. Keep attentive and be as ready as you can but don't hold your breath waiting or trying to predict when. 

I can give a prediction, it can happen any day, any time between now and an infinity years from now. There... no more need for predictions for I have predicted when it will be so live and be happy and enjoy life and be responsible for yourself and your family the best you can and ride the wave as best as possible.

2008 was a “once in a lifetime” event if you were 6 years old at the time. 

Typical cycle is about 8 years.

Aug 29, 19 3:50 pm

You understand that there is a difference between a 5 year flood and a 100 year flood, yes? Now apply it to the economy.


It depends...

In the midst of a recession and in the years immediately afterward most universities receive significantly higher numbers of applicants to their graduate and professional degree programs.  People lose their jobs or graduate into a bad time for job seekers, and figure it's as good a time as any to go back for that advanced degree or to study for a different career. So if you wait until we're deeply into a recession you may have a harder time getting into your top choice program, and competition for merit-based grants and for teaching assistant or fellowship spots may be higher, and your class may be larger. 

On the other hand, for your life-long earning potential it may be better to take advantage of the still-not-bad current job market to keep working now - especially if you can fund a 401k and otherwise save and invest - rather than hop out of these good earning potential years to go back to school now.  And part of the reason these have been good earning years is that in the wake of a recession a certain % of the early-to-mid-career architects who were displaced tend not to return to the profession, creating more room and quicker upward mobility for those who graduated into that early aftermath.  It's not always a disaster to graduate into a recession.  It may mean a rocky or delayed start at employment, but can be advantageous in the longer run.

Aug 29, 19 4:17 pm

life advice: when you feel like doing big things just do them. don't use the uncertainty of the future as an excuse to wait. the future will be just as uncertain in 5 years as it is today.

recessions are unpredictable in timing, duration and severity. just go into it knowing you might have to adjust your plans depending on economic circumstances. but that's true always anyway.

Aug 30, 19 12:25 am
Miles, the severity was once in a lifetime. As I stated typical recessions are inevitable and part of the cycle. A complete meltdown of the economy is not typical. It is often referred to as the Great Recession because that’s what it was.
Aug 30, 19 2:04 pm

Don't mind Miles. He hasn't had a job in years so he doesn't know what he's talking about. He's not even a qualified architect.



@archinine how old were you in 1988?

@AlinaF carefull, you're going to get in big trouble when your mommy finds out you've been playing on her computer.


RickB not qualified yet. Atm trying to get into graduate school but my GPA is rather low (2.51). Portland State is my firm choice followed by MIT.


How about working on adding 0.50 or more points to your GPA?



RickB I currently have conditional status, but I might be able to get regular admission soon. Just need to complete some more credits. MIT hasn't answered yet though..


Ok.... complete 9 credits at graduate level at 3.0 or higher GPA level and you should be in better shape but no slacking going forward.

Rick, listen to Admiral Ackbar.


It's a Trap! 

It's confirmed.


At least, I am providing a little information that others who might be in a similar situation to explore the options that they might not know exist but there is a disclaimer that it is no guarantee for admission.

You should start a new thread for that. Call it the "Uncle Ricky's Data Upload to get your Mind Blown" thread. People could come to you for advice and you could dispense all the data you need to in order to help them out. Plus it would be consolidated for anyone that might come along in the future to find and browse. And you'd only have to provide one universal disclaimer at the top of the thread to cover everything.


Have to look around for where Bill & Ted left the time travelling phone booth! It would speed up the process.


thanks everyone. I think since I'm treating grad school as an opportunity to diversify my skillset (in the sense that I'd like training at a more advanced academic level in order to teach more than simply design studio but possibly electives/seminars in more niche topics as well), it feels justifiable. right now, my only experience is architecture and design firms and a little bit of writing. grad school could give me the opportunity to pursue my writing career more seriously and possibly more teaching positions. I can imagine if you're only going to grad school to get a better job within an architecture firm, you might want to reconsider cheaper, less time-intensive alternatives.

in terms of the recession, I feel that timing could be a lot worse and for fall 2020 consideration of it feels less heavy. I have decent savings and manageable work experience so I think if it looks like 2008, I'd be a lot more cautious. but people are saying less scary things about this upcoming recession (which will still be challenging). but I have confidence in my ability to find work if I just stay connected, generous, and eager. as well as smart about finances lol (maybe the real key).

Aug 30, 19 4:13 pm
AlinaF about finances. Don't buy books, steal them from the library.



Aug 30, 19 4:45 pm

Seems like you are getting out the "real" profession anyways. So it doesnt matter if there is a recession or not. There are stupid students who will still go to school.

Aug 30, 19 7:35 pm

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