Master of Architecture 1 Program-- Boston Architectural College/Parsons/Pratt


Hello all, 

I plan on attending an M.Arch program and I want some advice on what to do and mostly what is actually possible for someone in my position. I graduated with a Bachelor's of Art from SUNY Albany with a 2.2 overall GPA. I was a poor student when it came to my non-art classes, but I got a 3.6 Major GPA. I regret this deeply and I don't make excuses. I recently did a semester at the Boston Architectural College and got decent grades there but dropped out after one semester because I wanted to try and apply to a 3 year program. I wasn't impressed with the facilities and the concurrent program they offer at the BAC. Quite honestly the school seemed like a scam designed to take poor students' money. 


My question is it possible for someone with such low undergrad grades to get into a 3 year program like Parsons or Pratt? Or should I just go back to the BAC and try for the best? 

Mar 21, 13 11:04 am

Hi Rafael, a lot of people informed me that applying to a new york school like parsons was a waste of time, especially living in Houston.  Though I double majored in the sciences and minored in Studio art, I had fairly decent grades  but made up for it with "proactive" experience in college and professional settings:

-initiating an awesome student development organization chapter on campus
-Worked in a nonprofit Museum
-Short term teaching experiences in the sciences and the arts

This was done over the course of 3 yrs after graduating.  I am fortunate as well that my drawing skills are quite proficient (sketching/painting since childhood).  I currently work for the Architecture Center here although this was after I applied to Rice & Parsons last fall so it wasn't present unfortunately on my application.  Nonetheless, although I thought it would be impossible to get in at the time, I created a portfolio, received really solid recommendation letters (one of them I drafted for the recommender lol), and hammered out an essay.  It was a lot of work and research on the portfolio as I knew that was the most important material to get in.  I didn't really take verbal advice about the process, but customized my own style from different portfolios I saw online.  I didn't get in to Rice but was accepted to Parsons (my primary choice) and will be attending this fall. Most people thought the opposite would occur (including me).

Basically, asking advice from others/strangers who don't know you on what they think YOU can do is not necessary.  If it is something you GENUINELY want to pursue, you will do anything to make it happen regardless of how many times you fail.  Grades are just one facet of the admission; you have the GRE that you're going to ace, the essay that wows the committee, and the portfolio to blow the people's mind!  You also have time to get involved/work in the architectural/art community and travel (go to Puerto Rico, Hawaii, New York, or Alaska if you don't have money to go abroad) which will substantiate your overall experience.  Visit the school if you can and talk with the advisor/students.  You'll have a better understanding to know if architecture is really what you want to do.

Mar 31, 13 12:04 am

If you put together a good portfolio (the most important factor in any application) and apply to several decent programs (such as Parsons or Pratt, but apply to other schools as well to be safe and to increase your admissions chances and range of financial options) then I would say that it is pretty likely that you will get in at least one of them. Penn for example had a 38 percent acceptance rate a few years ago. The fact that you did well in your past art classes is a good sign, and you should definitely include your art in your portfolio. I would prioritize developing your portfolio over the GRE and over professional/extracurricular experience, although those experiences can't hurt.

Mar 31, 13 10:43 am

Lol yes, I concur with snail. The portfolio is the most important but I think it's also good to be well rounded (but that's just my opinion... and maybe also the opinion of the admissions guy as I received a personal note about my background in my acceptance package).  I think it also depends if the school fits your style and is best for you.  Parsons is a very collaborative/cross disciplinary/"out there" design school which is what I like best (also mentioned in note by admissions guy). 

I've never really been an advocate for putting all my eggs in one basket (pun unintended Happy Easter! haha).  I worked really hard on my portfolio which was comprised of my experiences in the arts, social sciences, and travel.  Overlooking the GRE especially when you have low grades and not putting in a well thought-out letter of intent (which will feed off from your experiences as well) may or may not be detrimental, but I didn't want to leave any room for chance/error/flaws.  I honestly can say I did everything possible to get in, no regrets.  Basically, start the application process early and do everything possible to your fullest abilities to wow the admissions committee... pretty simple lol

Again, just my opinion which should be taken VERY lightly.  I'll get off my soapbox now - phrase from Life of an Architect, love that blog 

Mar 31, 13 1:32 pm

I agree that the GRE may be more important when you have a GPA issue. I didn't spend a lot of time preparing for the GRE, but I also had pretty good grades, and I forgot about your situation when I was writing that. No matter what your portfolio is still the one thing that you should spend a large majority of your time on.

Mar 31, 13 2:13 pm

I am a student at the BAC. I would not return to the BAC under any circumstance. They offer poor instruction and just want your money.

Apr 8, 13 10:34 am

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