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Thread: LAs and designers: questions you wish you asked before entering a grad program

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    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    LAs and designers: questions you wish you asked before entering a grad program

    Basically this thread is about what the title said. I am thinking about getting out of Planning (from a government/regulatory standpoint) and getting into Landscape Architecture.
    I will be interviewing with a program later this month to see what they are all about, but I figured I would enter the student lounge once again and see what, if any, questions you would have asked prior to entering or learning about a program. This could be something that every LA student needs to know, or something you wish you would have known prior to commencing your study.

    I have a couple questions in my mind to ask (namely overcoming my poor undergrad record, etc.) but are there important industry-specific questions that need to be known?
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

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    Cyburbian
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    Zman, I have several questions I asked last month when visiting UGA:

    1. How many landscape construction courses are offered?
    2.What are typical construction c

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN View post
    Basically this thread is about what the title said. I am thinking about getting out of Planning (from a government/regulatory standpoint) and getting into Landscape Architecture.
    I will be interviewing with a program later this month to see what they are all about, but I figured I would enter the student lounge once again and see what, if any, questions you would have asked prior to entering or learning about a program. This could be something that every LA student needs to know, or something you wish you would have known prior to commencing your study.

    I have a couple questions in my mind to ask (namely overcoming my poor undergrad record, etc.) but are there important industry-specific questions that need to be known?
    I have several questions I asked when visiting UGA's MLA program last month I spoke with 2 professors and hung out with bdaleray down there (thanks again, bro). Do not waste professor's time asking questions that you can find out online or through the graduate program manual (they tend to get a little upset).

    1. How many classes do you have on plant material? Find schools that have at least 2 but preferably 3-4. You want to know what plants look like in Winter (I took a winter tree identification course at the local arborteum paid by my employer).

    2. How many construction courses do you offer? What are the typical projects completed in the course(s)? This is very important. If your BIG project is to hand-draft a spec, you are going to have a bigger learning curve when completing CD's (construction documents) at your first job. I would also look for a program that offers a class in contract adminisration (K-State does).

    3. Do you offer any specializations? UGA does not. However, they are bringing Dale Hall on as a full time professor (he is both a planner and a landscape architect). They are planning on offering more community planning programs in the future. Typical specializations might include: park design, ecological restoration, healing gardens, masterplanning, community planning, etc.

    4. What types of drawing skills do you stress? Are students doing conceptual plans on trash with microns or are they drafting using technical pens. Is rendering done by hand or by computer, or a combination of both.

    5. What types of software do you teach? How many courses do you offer (or is this really picked up in studio). Any program that does not teach AutoCAD (meaning Autodesk) is really not worth it. You need this skill to do drafting on projects, as well as understand how to increase your productivity. Photoshop skills are also very important. I overnighted my design portfolio prior to meeting with the professors (it included both planning and site design work) and all of the professors spent most of the time looking at CDs and sketchup work.

    6. Does your program have a job fair? Local firms and larger national firms (especially if you go to a prestifuous school) will send out recruiters. It doesn't necessarily mean you will get a job, but at least get your name out there (personally, I have been networking these firms already and I don't want to drop my name in the hat with everyone else when I am in school).

    7. Do you require a thesis. If you want to teach LA in college/grad school, you have to have a thesis. Although as I said on an earlier post, if you ever want to become a full tenured professor, more programs are expecting their faculty to have a PhD in another field (landscape arch doesnt really offer PhD's).

    8. Do you require a portfolio for admissions? I would prepare one anyway because you are going to have to do it if you ever want to get internships or a job after school. I slaved away on my portfolio for the past 8 months (trying to draw a hand-renderd conceptual PUD plan into full CDs).

    One professor said I could complete the program in 2 years but the admissions director did not want to say anything. He noted that unlike other admissions programs in other degrees, landscape architecture admissions is based primarily on the class applying that year (there are no established criteria for selecting people for the program). For example, if one year bunch of applicants have prior experience in Art or English, it might be difficult to sell yourself if you have that backgrond. You really should play up your experience in planning.

    9. What portfolio preparation courses do you have? Some schools barely cover it. UGA is one of the few that devotes a semester long course to preparing different types.

    10 How many students graduate in 3 years? Some stay longer to finish their thesis. Unfortunately, LA is so intense that it is very difficult to do the degree part time. You are likely to forget things, and that can come back to haunt you when you start taking the LARE. I have heard stories of students sometimes staying 4-5 years to finish.

    11. Is anyone on your faculty CLARB (they write the LARE exams) or LEED-AP?

    Honestly I didn't get into financial aid. I am planning on working for a few more years to save up for school, so hopefully money will be less of an issue for me.

    Zman, I have several other specific questions I brought up at the interviews. PM me and we can go from there.

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    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Thank you very much, nrschmid, for replying to this thread. I'm glad that someone would take sometime to post a comprehensive answer and I will PM you in due time.

    YOU have been a good help!
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    One more thing to ask about is contact info for recent grads, especially those with similar backgrounds and interests. They're probably the best source for unbiased info on the student side......

    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    I have several questions I asked when visiting UGA's MLA program last month I spoke with 2 professors and hung out with bdaleray down there (thanks again, bro). <snip>
    No problem - I'm glad I could help.

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