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Thread: GSD career discovery

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    GSD career discovery

    I am considering Harvard's Career Discovery program and I am really trying to get advice from people who have already done it. I want to go for Urban Design, but I need to justify paying this amount of money for something like this when I am already set on going to grad school next year. So... anyone?

    Edit... I am aware that people have posted similar threads to this before, but from searching I cannot really find any information that describes how the program works or what people took out of it, so that is really what I am looking for.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    I did the program this past summer, and am applying for grad school in planning for this coming fall.

    How the program works:

    Basically, it's a simulation of a graduate program in architecture. There are other disciplines covered, but architecture has by far the largest number of students and the overall design of the program is clearly architecture-oriented. The vast majority of the time is spent in studio, working on assigned projects. There are also daily lectures and other events, which are very much worth going to, but as the program goes on and the studio work gets more and more intense people stop going to those as much. The actual studio projects vary by discipline, and each discipline is divided into a number of small studio groups of ten students or so, each of which is taught by a GSD graduate student. The planning and urban design studios, at least, work on projects that are based on real planning issues going on in Cambridge and Boston. There is a heavy emphasis on design, pretty much all of which is done by hand. Drawing instruction is a big part of the program, while computer applications are given considerably less emphasis.

    In planning, which is what I did, the program involves a lot of research into possible solutions for the problems presented in the studio projects, and a lot of creative mapping and other design work related to planning. The more design-based disciplines, including urban design, seem to do more traditional design projects (sections, elevations, etc.), although urban design has more overlap with planning than the others and works on the same projects. In planning the work is mostly in groups of 2 to 4, with the final presentations done in front of outside experts brought in to critique the projects.

    What I took out of it:

    The program is seriously intense. Especially toward the end, as deadlines near, people are in the studio as much as possible and have basically no free time. It can also be kind of frustrating, when instructions are confusing or unclear or expectations seem to change constantly. It's a pretty high-stress experience. It's also, of course, quite expensive.

    Nonetheless, I thought it was worth it. I did it to see if going to grad school for planning was what I really wanted to do, and it definitely convinced me that it was. It really helped me to translate the vague terms I had heard ("design-based? what's that?") into concrete realities ("ah, okay, that's this, with all the tracing paper"). I don't think the setup of the program is as useful for planning as for architecture and the other design fields proper, but it does help to place planning within the context of design and the other fields.

    Overall, I think it was a great experience, though by no means an easy one. Whether it's the best choice for any particular person, of course, depends on a variety of factors that are hard to judge from the outside. If you have any more specific questions, I'd be happy to do my best to answer them.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the description, i'm thinking about doing the program as well.

  4. #4
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    teofilo: thanks for all your updates on the GSD program. I've gone through a couple old threads and read up a little about it.

    I'm currently working on my application for this year's program, and am planning on applying to grad school this coming fall.

    Someone in an earlier thread said recs from GSD Career Discovery may be sort of frowned upon. Do you know any more about that? And did you end up getting a rec from the program?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Basically what you get from the program is a sort of evaluation from your instructor that they mail to you. It's not really a recommendation, and they tell you not to ask for a recommendation in addition, so while you can include it as a supplement to grad school applications it doesn't really count toward the number of required official recommendations. I didn't send mine to grad schools at all.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    i got accepted for this summer anyone else applied yet?

  7. #7
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    Fomr what I remember GSD CD was $2500 when I went in 1996.
    I did the program and also taught it upon graduation.
    Got a rec from my instructor and had a pretty good time.
    All instructors are recent or soon to be GSD grads. A few PhDs in the there too.
    Good bc you get a sense of where you might possibly be in a few yrs.
    Worked pretty solidly but wasnt there late or anything.
    Projects much more conceptual in nature since you generally have only 1-2 weeks to do them.
    So they dont expect a high level of technical proficiency.

    In the end helped me gather critical mass of design stuff for portfolio
    and get used to the open critique driven reviews.

    You could say it's a 'lite' version of the real thing.
    V similar in the sense like grad school, the design studio weighs heavily and is where ppl invest their efforts.

    I think for the price and filling out yr protfolio and getting a rec it is a v good deal.

  8. #8
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    I did Harvard's Career Discovery in architecture about 10 years ago.

    At the time I was doing in college at a small liberal arts school and was thinking about architecture for grad school. I had no architecture background at all.

    I have since received my M.Arch from UCLA and have worked in design ever since. My GSD final project went into my application portfolio.

    I would recommend the program if you have not had exposure to architecture or your respective field choice yet. It is a quick course and gives you a decent run down of things. An internship may be better if you can get in with a firm that will give you a good recommendation and is willing to teach you more than how to copy and fax.

    One plus is you get to spend time at the GSD which is a phenomenal arch school. You will also get a project or two for your portfolio.

    Hope that helps.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally posted by crrfl View post
    i got accepted for this summer anyone else applied yet?
    Just got notice of acceptance!

  10. #10
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    Acceptance timeframe

    Thanks for all the great info!

    crrfl and Arcadius - congrats! How long did it take for you to hear back from the school of your acceptance? I am going to be submitting my application at the end of the week, a little later than desired, and am curious about when I should expect to be able to start making summer plans. Also, are you in Planning/Design/Arch?

    Thanks!

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    I'll be going for design. It only took about two or three weeks to find out though - if even that.

  12. #12
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    Anxious!

    I wish I discovered this forum a long time ago! I just read some of what you all have written here and have had so many of questions answered in the process.

    I applied for Urban Planning and I turned in my application last Friday (the 10th) and am waiting anxiously to hear back. Congrats crrfl and arcadius!

    Anyone in Planning??

  13. #13
    You'll see me there too. I'm really excited about it. My concentration will be planning. What about everyone else?

  14. #14
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    HEY! I just found out yesterday that I got in too! My concentration is planning as well So very excited!

  15. #15
    Cyburbian
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    How is everyone getting to the university from the airport? I feel like public transit may be an issue with the amount of luggage I will need to last me 6 weeks, but I don't know how much a cab costs either.

  16. #16
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    I think a cab would be the best idea. They said it comes out to 25-30 dollars/person. Perhaps if there's a bunch of us, we can share cabs and save a couple bucks.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    When I did the program last summer I took public transportation from the airport to the campus. I wouldn't say it was easy, exactly, but it was quite doable.

  18. #18
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    Anxiously awaiting!

    Congrats on the acceptance! I applied 4/17 for planning... still waiting for some good news I hope!

    Did they send your letters via email?

  19. #19
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    Yes! They sent mine via email Let me know when you hear from them, it would be cool to get to know fellow Planning people before the program actually starts!

  20. #20
    I will arrive on June 13 around 5 pm. Anyone want to share a cab? Also, who's made arrangements to stay at the dorms?

  21. #21
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    Would any of yall that have been accepted care to share your gpa/gre?

    Do they even ask, or accept, GRE scores?

  22. #22
    I was accepted as well last night - concentration in Urban Planning. I sent my application in on the 30th, so there seems to be a fast turn around at this point!

  23. #23
    Brooklyne: No, they do not need a GRE score, but they do need the transcripts of all coursework and GPA.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally posted by arcadius View post
    Just got notice of acceptance!
    Me too! It'll be fun

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally posted by elusive View post
    I think a cab would be the best idea. They said it comes out to 25-30 dollars/person. Perhaps if there's a bunch of us, we can share cabs and save a couple bucks.
    When are you planning on getting there?
    I just got my Ba in Urban Planning but havent decided yet if i want the urban design or architecture program this summer.

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