Curious about strategy for applying to M.Arch after dropping out with D grades years ago?


Hi All, 

Thanks for your time and any input here. I am planning out the next few decades of my life and it is looking like completing an M.Arch is probably going to be on the table as something that I really want to make happen. I am concerned about this because I was previously in an M.Arch degree but dropped out (getting Ds in the process) in the first semester. I am trying to understand how much this will affect my chances of getting into a program in the future. 

Here is the context. I was in the M.Arch degree and really loving it in every way, about four years ago now. I was doing great up until the last month of the summer session, when I was actually headhunted for my then dream job. So I left the program after the withdraw deadline, ate the tuition costs, and didn't complete the final assignments. While I was on great terms with the faculty, I wound up with D grades for the two summer foundational courses.

My current work is in commercial real estate and technology, and I am a very frequent professional writer and commentator in the built environment/economy space. 

I am now in the position where I am confident architecture fits into my long-term, overarching life goal to work on designing and developing buildings and cities in great harmony with nature. I am only interested in going back to school after I become completely financially independent and can fund or fundraise for my own projects (after completing my AXP requirements). I might even do a PhD in a related science field in addition. My goal will not be to get a traditional arch firm or public job afterward, and I don't need or want to be a total hotshot...I have seen how much involvement non-design finance people end up having in every aspect of design development, but I deeply want the architect's toolset and ability to see a project from every angle. I plan to be very active as an architect, and will be happy to work under or with more experienced designers, but for projects I am passionate about and can actually handle developing from a financial and community perspective.

With my experience, and given that I am not in a particular rush for the M.Arch, I am confident/hopeful that I could really ace the portfolio, experience, and even GRE parts of degree admission. Leaving the question of those obnoxious yet fair D grades looming over me. For what it's worth, my undergrad GPA was 3.6. 

Thoughts in strategy for approaching this? Thanks again.

May 13, 21 2:47 pm

Can you not apply without including your graduate school experience? It isn't like there is a global record somewhere of all of our education. Just don't include it on your application. 

OR.... are you planning to go back to the same school? If so, were there any faculty reviews or paper trails that you were doing well in school prior to leaving?

May 13, 21 3:32 pm  · 
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I suggest radical honesty, use it to your advantage, it is what makes you you...

May 13, 21 4:01 pm  · 

Doubt any school would run a background check on their applicants lol

May 13, 21 4:03 pm  · 

Thanks for the input everyone. It looks like many of schools require transcripts from all universities where credit was awarded. Some, like Columbia and Yale, specifically word it this way, while others like Harvard and MIT say things like "A transcript will be expected from all schools you list." I don't know if this means they are allowing you the option to send only some transcripts, but this is why I am concerned.

May 13, 21 5:09 pm  · 

your case is actually a special case. ultimately all admissions decisions are up to a committee of real people who can make thoughtful judgements when there is good reason.

in your application you include a letter explaining your professional history and purpose for applying to grad school - in that give a short note that early in your career you started and then withdrew from a graduate program to pursue an excellent opportunity. with that explanation they won't have any interest what the grades were anyway.

if you indeed left on good terms ask one of the faculty from that program to write a reference explaining the situation and verifying your skills and performance during the time before you withdrew.

May 13, 21 8:42 pm  · 
1  · 

actually you should approach this with pride in the decision you made - it takes some courage and maturity to choose a professional opportunity over the easier route of finishing a degree. i imagine no one at harvard would reject bill gates or zuckerberg if they re-applied to complete their degrees.

May 13, 21 8:45 pm  · 
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