Too Old For School?


28 going on 29....This is the second year in a row I have canceled my MArch applications due to a work opportunity.

If I apply next year, I will be 33 when I graduate.

Am I getting too old for school?

Resume is...


  • BA. Urban Studies 2010 | San Francisco State. 3.6 GPA
  • Certificate Landscape Architecture:  3 Studios | UC Berkeley Extension


Urban Designer | Studio 506, San Jose Costra Rica (current)

Marketing and Proposal Manager + Lead Master Planner | American Iraqi Solutions Group | Basra, Iraq (9 months)

Urban Design Fellow | Institut of Teknologi, Surabaya Indonesia (5 months)

Bicycle + Pedestrian Planner | San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency - Livable Streets (1.5 years)

Planning + Design Intern | San Francisco Parks Council (6 months)

Oct 31, 12 10:17 am

Too old?

33 when you graduate? thats too old? what about 54? - well that's how old I was when I graduated with an M.arch - then got hired by SOM-SF 

Try Cal or CCA - You are still young - don't wait until I did my M.arch - the on;y reason I got a job at Skidmore, was because I ws one of the few who knew Revit back in '07 - save for that, I would never have got in.

Oct 31, 12 12:23 pm

Too old?  Ha!

  • MArch at 38
  • PhD at 45
  • Retirement at 112
Oct 31, 12 1:34 pm
  • Death at 112.1
  • Partial student loan forgiveness at 113
Oct 31, 12 1:40 pm

Yes, deferred schooling has its price.

Oct 31, 12 1:48 pm

My brother in law quit his job as a principal design engineer when he was 44 in order to go to medical school, so no, you're not "too old."

On the other hand, life is short. How much of it do you want to spend in school?

Oct 31, 12 2:22 pm

Oscar's 104 and still practicing

Oct 31, 12 2:28 pm

Are there any programs out there where the students skew a little older? Maybe programs based in larger cities have higher concentration of students 28-30+ (or something)?

Anyone have any ideas or know from experience?

Oct 31, 12 3:00 pm

you can be as old as dirt and still fit right in.

Oct 31, 12 3:28 pm

I think it awesome when people return to school at an older age.  But there's a big difference between a 54 year old and an 29 year old seeking an advanced degree. A whole career could be that difference.

For a 54 year old or a senior design engineer, it's safe to assume they already had a career in something and may be financially capable of pursuing a new interests.

As a relatively young professional, i feel my opportunity cost is only going up the longer I wait as I am actively building a career and network...etc. etc.

My first choice of school fyi would be columbia MArch + MSRED. I think those two programs would be the beezkneez.

Oct 31, 12 3:40 pm

columbia would also bankrupt me. I hope my experience can carry me on to a higher and better paid position when all is said and done.

I fear the reentry into the job market after 3.5 years would be a kick in the butt.

Oct 31, 12 3:46 pm


Sure is - the school I went to - it's in San Diego - NewSchool of Architecture - 

Oct 31, 12 4:46 pm

i'm 31... Unless I win a lottery to pay my tuition debt, I will probably work for another 2 years before I apply for grad school.

Oct 31, 12 6:37 pm

accesskb - same here. It's the reason I'm only looking at state schools on the east coast...which schools are you looking at?

Oct 31, 12 9:03 pm
Lian Chikako Chang

Wow, Xenakis! 54 and hired by SOM. Kudos.

I'm 31 and will be graduating from the M.Arch.I at 32. There are handfuls of older students in my program at the GSD, though the majority are certainly a bit shinier and perkier.

Oct 31, 12 9:28 pm
Lian Chikako Chang

(Older--I mean 30s and 40s. Maybe 15% of our class?)

Oct 31, 12 9:29 pm
won and done williams

Spackle, late twenties isn't that old. Are you fishing for compliments? ;)

However for people in their 30s or 40s, unless you are independently wealthy and are looking for a hobby architecting, I don't really understand trying to get into the profession. The education/internship process is too long and expensive to be seen as a good career decision. There are plenty of more direct routes to good careers. A labor of love will not put the kids through college.

Nov 1, 12 9:27 am

 though the majority are certainly a bit shinier and perkier.

Actually - I am shinier and perkier than many 1/2 my age - all of this is due to a 30 year regime of running(35 miles/week), a vegan diet and meditation - never assume that those older are "dusty"- I for one, am very very capable or I would not be working in the architecture profession at all - When I was at SOM, I was working right side your GSD grads and I had no trouble keeping up - 

- your statement "though the majority are certainly a bit shinier and perkier." is very aegist and discriminatory and this attitude is why there is so much age discrimination in architecture - 

Nov 1, 12 11:46 am

oh SNAP!

Nov 1, 12 11:50 am

great feedback yall.

love the enthusiasm Xenakis. i actually took a few drafting and studio classes at the new school (or was it woodbury) when i went to mesa college....

Definitely a good mix of students from all ages groups.

since there are a lot of different folks chiming in, I'd like to propose another question.

Do any architecture schools actually teach fascinating ways to work with materials and build projects? Such as treating woods or design builds?

thats what im looking for.

Nov 1, 12 4:36 pm
Lian Chikako Chang

I'd say that yes, I think at many schools you'd have the chance to learn a lot about materials and building. You certainly would at the GSD. But if this is your core interest more than the other aspects of an architecture education (and if you don't want to get licensed), there could be other ways to focus on becoming a builder (shorter school programs, internships, or jobs with builders and craftspeople).

Nov 1, 12 11:47 pm

I know of people who did architecture as a second career at 40 so not too old, if thats what your passion is... You can also do an M Arch at the Boston Architectural College concurrently while working, that would be a decent option for mature students I think...

Nov 4, 12 3:57 pm

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