Is there any experience out there from CU architecture students? / Significance of college essays?

I’ve searched through multiple sites and I feel like I can’t find anything recent about architecture students or the architecture student experience at CU in general. I’ve heard that there isn’t really any information about CU at all, and I’ve mostly found arduous experiences of electrical engineering students or art student struggles. but never any architecture school details.

I’m currently a junior, soon to be senior, and I’m definitely going to apply to CU for architecture for ED (I might get rejected bc my grades aren’t the most brilliant and I’m not sure if I’m special artsy snowflake material but hey I’m still bursting with excitement), regardless of the many crappy experiences and warnings about the rigorous workload shared online. (unrelated, but I’m totally pumped for receiving the hometest as well) Though I’m driven, I’m still slightly skeptical since there’s little information about student lives for architecture at CU.

I would really appreciate if anyone could talk about their CU architecture experience, if any of you guys exist at all. I heard that maybe 30 students are admitted per year? That’s crazy! I’m so curious.

In addition, I was wondering if anyone knew anything about the effects of submitting the optional essay requirement from CommonApp for CU; does it even matter? does my low SAT score matter? or is it all about the hometest?

Thanks for your time.


I cannot comment on CU, but I can comment on MARCH degrees and my experience at SCAD.

My experience with the quarter class scheduling system at SCAD.

I attended SCAD from 2001 to 2004 studying architecture in the Master of Architecture program. Since I was a student with an undergraduate degree in a related discipline, I needed to go for 3 years to meet the requirements. For anyone considering to go to SCAD I can provide some first hand experience that can help anyone make their own decisions of where to go to college. I am going to list the major things that someone should consider before going to SCAD.

  1. SCAD has the quarter scheduling system. A quarter system class scheduling system is a lot different than a semester system class schedule. A quarter system academic year is three quarters: fall, winter, spring. A full time class schedule is 3 classes. This sounds reasonable but each class is 2.5 hours long. Studio classes are 5.5 hours long. If you schedule a studio class and a regular class back to back you are in class all day. In architecture studio classes. we spent a lot of time discussing our own projects or other students projects with the class which limits your own time of getting your own projects completed.

To make up the time, students have to spend long hours into the night to get their projects complete. Eichberg Hall where the architecture department is located at SCAD was open 24/7 when I was there. Students had to do a lot of all-nighters because the quarter system class periods are too long.

I personally did at least 100 all-nighters (probably twice that many) in 3 years while attending SCAD. I look back and consider that torture. I would never go to a quarter system college again. All-nighters become a very painful experience after a while. I still suffer from all of the sleep deprivation. I did not waste time going to parties. I worked on my projects as much as I needed to do to do my best considering the time constraints of the quarter system. I managed to get straight 'A’s my last year in the Master Level classes and my GPA was over 3.7.

Adding to the severe SLEEP DEPRIVATION issues at SCAD, studio classes sometimes pair you with other students. Unfortunately, you can be paired with a group partner or two who never show up to do their share of the project. I remember one studio, my assigned group partner did not show up until after midterms. I did all of the project up to the midterm presentation by myself. The professor asked me, where is your partner. I said, I do not know, I never see the partner after class hours. All of the SLEEP DEPRIVATION at SCAD hurts you after you graduate. DO NOT GO TO SCAD, if you are a good student who wants to learn.

  1. Another downfall of the quarter system is that professors have difficulty maintaining a class for 2.5 hours. I had some professors at SCAD cancel class after about 1 hour of teaching. But I paid for 2.5 hours of class time. SCAD is very expensive.

I also think the quarter system is not flexible. You cannot take extra classes over full time like you can a semester system.

I went to a semester system college for my undergraduate degree. Class periods are only 50 minutes long 3 times a week or 1.5 hours long 2 times a week. Since the class times are shorter I had much more time after class to do my work. I only needed to do 1 all-nighter and that was because I was taking extra classes over full time. I was able to take 1 or 2 classes over full time each semester in order to study business classes outside of my major and complete the required elective classes for my major.

  1. Quarter systems are designed to prevent you from taking free classes like at a semester system. At a semester system, you pay for a full class load of 12 credits. Since the class times are shorter, you can easily take an extra class a semester. Since you only pay for 12 credits, that extra class is free. The quarter system at SCAD is virtually impossibly to take an extra class. So, no free classes. I paid for my own college education. I greatly appreciate being able to take an extra class a semester like at the semester system college.
  2. The scope of classes at SCAD is limited compared to a college such as Penn State University. Do your research on what classes a college offers before choosing a college.

To any student considering going to college, I highly recommend going to a semester system college.

I think the quarter system at SCAD is a fundamentally flawed educational system. Don’t go to a quarter system. I regret going to SCAD for that reason.

Since I graduated from SCAD, I have finished the Architecture Registration Exams and became registered. I passed all of the exams one the first attempt. Most importantly, I have not experienced an all-nighter since 2004. I do not miss the all nighter life at all. I would never ever consider going to a quarter system college again. If I take any college courses in the future, I will certainly go to a semester system college.

The all-nighter experience still effects me 15 years later by really messing up my sleeping habits. I can still have trouble waking up in the morning when the alarm goes off which can get me in trouble at work. Before I went to SCAD, I was a construction worker and could easily wake up at 3 am to travel to a job site and could be on site at 5:30 am. Now, its almost impossible for me to wake up at super early hours. I seem to go into a very deep sleep now most nights and an alarm will not wake me unless I am ready to wake up.

After being in the architecture profession for ten plus years, I recommend not studying Architecture at all, unless you are very gifted creatively. The architecture curriculum sleeps deprives you too much causing sleeping problems for you the rest of your life. The architecture profession does not pay well either. Try another career path.

Firstly, thank you very much for sharing your experience, and it’s beyond great knowing you were able to push through that extremely rigorous cycle from your architecture experience.

While I don’t want to apply to SCAD, (due to the high price) that quarter system does concern me about a friend attending SCAD in the fall for motion media–hopefully she can handle it with grace. I personally consider myself a good

student and who primarily wants to learn, so your words also continue to solidify my decision not to apply to SCAD.

I’ve always found general complaints about all-nighters as architecture students but never understood the context behind their frustration until reading your response. I’m also deeply sorry about the sleep deprivation issues and undesired amount of pay you face today. Despite the warnings, I feel as if I can’t be deterred from Architecture until I experience it myself, and truly, I have no wish to strive for anything other than this field. I don’t mind doing unforgiving work, losing sleep for a passion, and while money is a key tool for me to achieve my ideal self, it isn’t everything to me.

Thanks again quarter2004, as your response was very useful in narrowing down my college decisions, directing my focus towards more details during the admissions process, and providing experience in the career I will pursue.

I don’t have experience in Arch but my son is an art student at Cooper. All I can tell you is that grades from high school and talent matter. I know the home test is very different for Architecture students, so can’t comment on that process. My son’s roommate freshman year is in the Architecture program and he got very little sleep and was often very stressed out. It’s a 5 year program (BArch). They only take about 25 students per year and, about half or so drop out (or are asked to leave). The students themselves probably won’t comment here because they’re too busy!! Maybe take a visit to the school. That’s what we did and knew it was the right place. By the way, my son loves the school. It’s a wonderful community.