When I began searching for a college that had a degree track for students with an undergraduate major in a non-architecture field it became clear there weren't many options. Many programs require applicants to go through an unabridged undergraduate track which would require another four years, followed by another two or more years that many masters programs take. I was not looking to spend another six years in school. Of the programs that had fast track degrees many required so much experience in architecture that you may as well have an undergraduate degree in the field. I ended up applying to two schools and was accepted at SIU.
Prior to being accepted I came for a campus tour and to meet with my counselor. The campus was enormous in acreage compared to my undergraduate university and somewhat put me off, although now I would not choose another school. I was shown the campus and had a conversation about the program, what would be expected, how the process would work, and that my track was new and would require some effort to maintain, and reviewed my portfolio. What sold me was when I was told: “You have something to offer this university.” Up until that point I had not received any feedback from a university other than to point out inadequacies in various areas or to attempt to scare me away with vast exaggerations of workload. I decided that if SIU thought I had potential then they would certainly do their best to educate me. My counselor was also concerned that I might attend SIU for a short time only to transfer out to a more prominent school. I told him that I wouldn't be abandoning ship. What SIU does not know is that I received an offer to complete my masters at Harvard last year. When I read their offer I immediately weighed my experience thus far at SIU, my interaction with faculty, staff, and peers mainly. It was not a difficult decision to turn the offer down. My decision seemed to be reinforced the following semester when our accreditation report was issued and we ranked above Harvard – fate and all that.
I enjoy going to class, which is not a sentiment that I could have espoused for the bulk of my undergraduate program. I particularly enjoy our technical focus, and the general puzzle solving nature of architecture. I am motivated to go beyond what school requires. I've been working to create a new design/build program that is finally taking shape and will produce results this semester. I also spent time in Cairo working with a youth group on a Shotgun house. I am sure I will find more to do by the time I graduate, but I am also sure that due to faculty involvement I won’t run out of drive. For someone in my situation SIU was and is a seamless solution. I have no doubts based on my interactions with industry professionals that there will be any problem finding employment where I want to be.