Advice for upcoming months? I just graduated from high school.


Hi! I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask (sorry if it's not), but I figured I'd give it a go.

About me:

  • I am from the States.
  • I graduated early (in December 2019) from my high school, but they are withholding my diploma until May. They took my high school ID. 
  • I am going to college/university for architecture in the fall, but I don't know where yet.
  • Initially I had an unpaid internship at a local firm as part of a course I was taking at school, but they had to let me go at the end of the semester/course because they didn't need the extra help.
  • I have done summer programmes (pre-college) for the past two years, and in addition to that, also know enough CAD, Revit, etc., to do some pickups for redlines.
  • Many summer programmes I'm finding are only for high school students.

Seeing as I'm sort of in a state of "statelessness" (not a high school student, not a university student), I'm not really sure how to approach finding an internship in my country. I can't take community college courses, either, or it'll invalidate my college applications and make me a transfer student.

Since I effectively have a gap half-year, I was wondering if travelling/looking for an internship or a summer programme abroad might be a good idea? If so, does anyone have any suggestions for where? (I do have some funds and can travel.)

Or should I try and take certification courses for CAD?

All advice and recommendations are welcome. Thank you!

Jan 5, 20 1:17 pm
Chad Miller

Why is your high school withholding your diploma?

Which architectural schools are looking into?  Are their architectural programs accredited?  

Keep in mind that most accredited architectural programs have a rather regimented class schedule that makes it nearly impossible to just start half way though the academic year.  

My advice to you would be to NEVER work at an unpaid internship.  Be honest with the firms around you and simply apply for drafting positions - even if they are just part time.  You'll learn a bit about the process of putting together a set of construction documents and possibly see some good design work.  Use your time before college to save up some money.  

Jan 5, 20 1:44 pm

When they approved me for early graduation, they didn't tell me I wouldn't get my diploma until May, like all of the other regular graduates. They told me I would graduate - so, effectively, I do not have to go to school and I am not enrolled as a student at the high school. But I do not formally get my diploma, and thus do not have proof of my graduation, until May.

I am looking into architectural schools with the B. Arch degree, and know that I cannot start halfway through the academic year - as such, I will not begin college until fall 2020. Until then, I have free time and am looking for something to do.

Thanks for the advice! How do I ask for anything other than an unpaid internship, though? It just feels a little bit of a grey area since high school students usually apply under the guise of "job shadowing" or something, or I'm otherwise competing with undergraduates who get paid internship hours that contribute to licensing requirements.


aerandawn, if you want to get started working in architecture: Start here:

Begin by establishing your NCARB Record or AXP. You will want to have some kind of position lined up. Note: Each state has their own specific licensure requirements and what experience or number of hours counts and total hours needed. Specific questions can be asked and answered. 


When it comes to the degrees, depending on the school, you may have to apply and submit portfolio in advance. You can't just wait until Fall of 2020 to begin unless you go to a college that has open enrollment. Keep that in mind. This is around the time the applications are due for admissions to a significant number of architecture schools' architecture program for Fall 2020 enrollment. You may have to wait until Fall of 2021 if you have not already submitted applications and portfolios to these schools in hopes for an acceptance letter by their programs. The deadlines are usually sometime in January to February so if you haven't even started on this, it would be best to wait on applying and going to architecture school unless you get into one that has open enrollment.


Oh, sorry. I think there might have been some confusion. I already finished applying to all the schools I'm applying to, so right now there's nothing left to do other than wait (I've only heard back from Cornell, from which I've been deferred since I applied early decision). Thanks for the advice, though!


Thank you for the clarification through the additional information.

Therefore, I feel a little better about your situation. I was just covering basis in case you didn't apply. Yes, I think you are on the right path so far and it is a sort of sit and wait game on some of the stuff.


Since you haven't actually graduated from high school, that makes you still a high school student. 

Also, yeah, don't work for free. If you can't find a job at a firm right away, go get a job doing labor in construction - you'll learn a ton.

Jan 5, 20 2:10 pm

I'm not sure if I'm "actually graduated" - that's part of my dilemma. I'm not enrolled as a student anywhere at the moment. But I do see your point.

Thanks for the feedback!


Doesn't matter. 

If you haven't even prepared applications and sent them to the many architecture schools that have admissions application & portfolio requirements which most are due in January or February for a Fall 2020 starting date. If you haven't even begun this, you are way behind the 8-ball to get into those schools. You would have maybe 2 weeks or so to get the application and portfolio prepared and sent. Not likely enough time to do a decent job of it. 

You would have to either wait for the admission application (and portfolio submission) cycle for Fall 2021 which begins in Fall of 2020 and submissions due in the first couple months of 2021.............. OR............ you find an architecture program with open enrollment/admissions and begin that when the college begin's registration for Fall term. 

You then have until the first day of class to provide proof of graduation from High school. Which you should be able to by then. Just indicate that the diploma is pending and they'll likely let you begin proceeding with registering for classes for Fall but you have to provide proof of graduation before classes begin which you should have no problem with. Just explain it and the college/university will work with you for admission to the institution as a student and then enrolling for your Fall 2020 classes. 

Hell, if you are 18 years old already, you can probably even start registering for college classes before hand. Sometimes, even attend classes before your diploma is conferred.

Rick, I'm not sure why you're going off on this tangent of how and when to apply to college. If the OP is smart enough to finish high school early, I think they can handle applying to college. If not, they have plenty of time to do so. I barely even remember applying for colleges in high school which means it was probably a piece of cake.


Sorry if there's some confusion. I already applied to college, and I'm just waiting to hear back from the colleges and universities from which I've applied - apart from Cornell, which I got deferred from.

Until I hear back and commit to a college/university, I can't enroll in any college classes beforehand at the community college or otherwise because it will change my status as someone who is applying as a new undergraduate student and not a transfer. So I am just looking for things to do now, and in the summer, until I go to school in the fall.


aerandawn, Thank you for clarifying. It wasn't clear if you did that already.


E_A, don't assume too much. Applying to the college for architecture programs aren't always just applying to the college. Alot of them, it is applying to the architecture program. One can get admissions to the university but yet not get into the architecture program. I raised the question so the OP would clarify what the OP had done so far.


aerandawn, if you're applying to colleges in the US, it's not true that taking community college courses will automatically change your status to a transfer student, or have any affect at all on your applications. If you were to receive state or federal financial aid for community college course then it could count toward your total length and $ maximum for undergraduate aid. But other than that, it should have no negative impact. Typically you won't be treated as a transfer student unless you have enough credits to amount to an entire semester. If you've just taken a few courses that's usually just treated as an incoming freshman with a few transfer credits (not the same thing as a transfer student, and not at all unusual.) 


Formerlyunknown is right from what I recall. 

Given Cornell's ( ) example: 

You have to have like 12 credits or more to be classified under the status of "Transfer student", it won't amount to much on the financial aid coverage. 

When you transfer to a bachelors degree or B.Arch, your financial aid coverage is for up to 150% of the credits required to that degree. So you get up to 6 to 7.5 (full-time 15 credits per term or semester level) minus whatever credits you already have earned. This limitation is for Federal grants like the Pell grants. Federal student loans are up to a maximum dollar amount for undergrad degree. Basically what Formerlyunknown said is true and even in my experience with community college and university and financial aid.

In short, if you take 11 or less credits at a community college, you won't be reclassified as a transfer student. Even if you did have 12 or more credit, does it really matter? Do good on the classes and have a high GPA, you should be fine. You would just need to send transcripts in. You can even save some money at a local community college taking some of the general education courses that will transfer to the given chosen university/college. Why? You wouldn't be accumulating student loans if you are living with parents while taking community college classes. Of course, that depends on qualifying for Federal financial aid, of course.


I should note that Federal financial aid is based on your parent's income at your age (under 24 if I remember correctly), from what I recall. ( and )

I would take the second link as most accurate and valid as it is from FAFSA's website and is direct from the source for such federal financial aid.

Consider this merely as information regarding FAFSA financial aid and is tangential to the topic. 


bowling_ball gave you an excellent suggestion. Getting a job in construction will teach you so much. In my opinion, the best architects are the ones who can build things themselves and have extensive experience doing so. Anyone can draw concepts on a computer, but when it comes to making those drawings real (i.e. building the structure) having the know-how to create the proper details and find your errors before-hand is extremely valuable.

Jan 6, 20 4:01 pm

Thanks for the suggestion! I'm looking into it. It sounds like a really great idea. I really enjoyed the wood shop aspect of my engineering class at school.

I would also vote for getting a job in construction. I worked various construction jobs after high school and before college, during summers in college and some miscellaneous gap periods, and after college before getting my first internship in an architecture office. I preferred that to internships and think I'm further ahead now because of it. 

Jan 6, 20 5:37 pm

Thanks! I'll definitely look into it.


You're worrying way too much about your school hanging on to your diploma, and not having a student ID.  Those things are irrelevant.

Go apply for jobs.  Whether they're in construction, architecture, retail, or whatever, nobody is ever going to ask to see a diploma. Just make it clear that you're finished with high school (in the unlikely event that they specifically ask if you've gradated then tell them you've "successfully completed all requirements and eligible to graduate") and that you're immediately available to work full time (or whatever hours they and you agree on) - that's all an employer will care about. I didn't go to college immediately after high school, so I applied for lots of jobs, and held several during that time, and was never once asked for a diploma - seriously I haven't seen my high school diploma since the day I received it - my mother probably has it in a shoe box of souvenirs somewhere.  Some colleges will want to verify your graduation before they'll enroll you in the fall, but that's typically done by getting your high school to transmit your transcript, in the summer before you show up on campus. 

Same issue with if you want to take a few community college courses:  just take them.  That has no bearing whatsoever on your college application status.  If you take some for-credit courses at a community college then once you decide which college you're attending in the fall you can decide whether or not to try to transfer the credits, depending on what you took and your university's policies.

Jan 7, 20 9:58 am

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