Should I Major In Architecture?

"I started college this year, and I finally have decided what I want to do with my life. I want to be an architect. I really want to make the world more beautiful by making residential buildings and public projects which are appealing to the eye and comfortable to live or spend time in. I’m not big into science and engineering, though. I barely passed physics this year, and I can hardly handle any more of it. The problem is, the school where I attend only offers civil engineering. They don’t offer a degree in architecture. I’ve been thinking about transferring and majoring in architecture at another university, but I’m not sure whether it’d be worth it to transfer or not. Maybe I need all that physics knowledge to become an architect? Would the architecture major really be any different?"

asked by Lisa from Norfolk, VA

I’m sorry to hear you’ve been struggling with physics class. Though hopefully you have noticed you are hardly alone in that respect. I bet a lot of the physics majors who were in your class had just as hard a time as you did. Although, if you really dislike physics and engineering, that probably will make you pretty miserable as a civil engineering major. On the other hand, if you like them but just find them really challenging, you may find it rewarding to stay in your existing major.

That said, you might indeed prefer to switch to architecture. You are right in assuming that architecture is a somewhat different major from civil engineering.

Basically, if you are interested in building structures, but not necessarily complex structures which require extensive engineering or physics expertise, you have the architecture option available. It includes fewer math and science classes and less engineering all around, and focuses more on aesthetic design principles.

The way you describe your interests as far as future projects go, architecture may be a perfect fit for you. As long as you are not interested in building bridges, dams, tunnels and other similar projects would require you to have advanced engineering knowledge, you should get everything you need with an architecture degree.

With that in mind, you have to decide whether it is worthwhile to you to transfer. I recommend that you make your decision sooner rather than later, since you are still a freshman. Most of your classes are general education at this point, I’m guessing, so they should transfer and help you fill your general education requirements as an architecture major, if you choose to go that route.

Before you jump and make the decision, though, I highly suggest you take some time to talk to your current advisor and get in touch with someone who works in the architecture department at the other school. Make sure that you understand the career path—not just the degree requirements, but also any relevant certification information.

Once you understand both career paths, you will be far better positioned to make your choice.

Career Spotlight: Architect

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