What’s a Designer to do?

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    Jess S.

    Just wanted to say thanks everyone for all your feedback! All your perspectives have been helpful. Thanks so much for the guidance. =)

    Brent Jacobsen

    Hi Jess – I am a little late replying to this conversation,but I also just graduated with an MLA from the University of Arizona, and will second the plug of an MLA as a viable option.

    I have a previous degree in Fine Art, but had never worked before in the field and was a typical career-shift student. I interned with a firm last summer, and was able to immediately contribute in every aspect of the firm’s work from design to technical detailing, so an MLA is not going to prevent you from achieving your educational / professional goals. It may even be able to do it more quickly because it is only a 3-year program for students without a BLA. I would also second many of the comments about the importance of exposure in your education. Pick a school where the student body and the professors are going to help you learn and widen your perspective on the field. I can’t comment on BLA programs, but I think MLA programs are great places to meet people with diverse backgrounds, and be pushed to think about our field at a wider level.

    I think the biggest decision is to pick a program that can meet the needs you have. BLA’s can offer more technical knowledge but that is usually a function of time (more time / coursework to practice and acquire the skills), not a function of educational merit. Every MLA offers students at least one year of grading / engineering as well as plant materials. And depending on the program you choose, they can be even more extensive. Some programs are more “design” oriented and some are more technical oriented. Some programs even offer design-build studios that attempt to bridge that gap between design and implementation.

    Good luck with the search – have you picked any particular schools you are looking at, or at least a region? And, do you have any idea of what you want to do after school? That can help you look at different programs with a more discerning eye.

    Trace One

    I would be interested in knowing what Brents take on the U of Arizona Masters is like – do they have a particular ‘bent’ ? I gave a paper at the CELA conference in Tuscon this year and the Uof Arizona people, as far as I was concerned, really stood out as being very good scholars…How did you like U of Arizona?

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