My name is Katy.
In the summer of 2007 I was preparing to apply to grad school and I was trying to find a way to find myself in the universe of architecture. Where did I stand? What did I believe in? Who was I as a future architect?
I wanted a way to find my voice in architecture. That's when Architecture Addiction was born.
And I got into Harvard.
But I wasn't happy there.
This has always been a hard thing to tell people because the GSD boasts a 15% acceptance rate and I had only just discovered my love for architecture three years prior. There are plenty of people out there who try for much, much longer to get accepted. Sometimes starting at age three.
People hear "Harvard" and they find themselves thinking all kinds of thoughts about what it means to go to a place like that.
But when I was there, I felt like there was a stranglehold on my creativity. On my sanity. On my sense of right and wrong. On my sleep. I discovered distorted views on the value of autonomy. On the value of choices. On the value of time.
After all my years in college, I felt like I had finally seen the man behind the curtain.
It got to the point where I could no longer bear going into debt $50,000 a year to be that miserable.
Deciding to leave was one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make. Even though I had seen and experienced what it meant to go to Harvard, I think a little part of me was still suffering from an inculcation of Harvard's reputation.
I kept thinking about how hard I had worked to get there, and how much harder I had worked once I was there.
And then I took a wider view. And left.
Once in a while I wonder what it would have been like if I had stayed. And then I think: "If I had stayed, I would have graduated in the worst job market since the Great Depression with about $180,000 in student loan debt."
And then I think, "Thank God I left."
I mean, short of a life of indentured servitude or suicide, what do people do in those situations?
But misery and disappointment gave me a great gift.
While I was there, I kept thinking to myself, "This shouldn't be this miserable. This shouldn't be this hard." Learning new things had always filled me with great joy. Discovering new things has always been delightful. So why, then, did grad school hurt so much?
The next big thing that happened was that I found John Taylor Gatto's Underground History of American Education.
It changed my life. I started to see why what we call "school" looks the way it does, feel the way it does, and is run the was that it is.
As I read, I reflected on my own long educational career. I kept thinking, "There must be a better way."
I've since read all of Gatto's books, and about 30 other books on pedagogy. I've learned a lot about learning.
The most important thing I learned is that grad school (or any school) doesn't have to be miserable.
Since leaving Harvard, I've been focused on founding a new kind of architecture school. It's still under development. I'll keep you posted.
In the mean time, Like us on Facebook for Updates.