It has been almost one year (to the day) that I graduated with my Master’s degree in Architecture from Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Getting to that point was an exhaustive but telling experience.
Not only did I learn a lot about myself in those 6 years I spent in undergraduate and graduate school, but I also learned an incredible amount about the collaborative environment that is omnipresent in design school. More importantly, I learned that business majors have the most fun, Starbucks coffee tastes great no matter what time of day it is, and nothing is more beautiful than watching the sun set and rise again … and then set again.
Now that I have had some time since graduation to sit and think about the years I spent in architecture school (and time to sit and count the gray hairs that have “magically” appeared since), I am left thinking about the value of a formal education and its importance for someone entering the profession of architecture. As a recent graduate, my loan payments are starting to come in and I have immediately begun to question myself and the decision I made to pursue a higher education. Seemingly endless amounts of student loan debt that will plague me for years, and only a piece of paper to show for it? I could have gotten to this point without a college degree, right? I think I see another gray hair forming.
But, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Yes, a Bachelor’s degree (and in most cases, a Master’s degree) is necessary for later becoming a licensed architect. But there is more value to my undergraduate and graduate education than I may have even recognized while still in school. Architecture school is about much more than just pulling all-nighters, accidentally cutting your fingers with x-acto knives, and becoming mortal enemies with your roommates during the week of final jury. Architecture school is a vessel for training future designers to think in a way that is “outside of the box”. Architects are tasked with finding innovative design solutions to every day problems; it is exactly this training received in architecture school that allows architects to design with purpose and with care. We are trained to be generalists so that we can one day provide a quality living environment for those around us. We are creating a built world for our future children to take their first steps in, to go on a first date with a high school crush, or fill out a first college application – and that has to be worth something.
So when I sit and think about my time in school, and I mean really think, I know that the education I received was truly priceless. It taught me more about myself than I ever could have learned otherwise. More importantly, it provided me with the tools I needed to step forth into the working architecture profession with confidence and clarity.
And, coffee is now my favorite beverage.