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BLA student on her experience transferring to UW

BLA student Jessica Chandler answered some questions about her experience as a transfer student in the Landscape Architecture program for the Fall 2017 Transfer Newsletter.

Name: Jessica Chandler
Major/Year: Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) ‘19
Previous Institution: Shoreline Community College
Year and Quarter Transferred: Summer 2016

ABOUT ME: My name is Jessica Chandler. I am non-traditional student who spent my early twenties traveling and pursuing a career in horticulture. I lovingly refer to myself as a late-bloomer, because I’ve tried on many different hats in my life. I’ve lived in Seattle for ten years, where I discovered my green thumb, and my love of the grey hoodie. If I don’t have my head down at Gould hall, I am probably at the Roller-Rink.


Why did you decide to transfer, and how did you choose UW?

I always knew that I hoped to transfer; the goal was to be the first person in my family to earn a Bachelor’s degree. When starting Shoreline Community College, I was unsure of what I wanted to do with my education. With my career experience and blossoming interests, I began to narrow down my field. Once I decided how I wanted to specify my studies, I looked at all schools within Washington state. UW was my first choice because the program I was applying for was interdisciplinary and held in high esteem.

What was the hardest part of transferring?

The hardest part about transferring for me was the transition into a more rigorous academic experience. There were a lot of growing pains in the first quarter, because the expectations were a lot higher than what I had previously experienced. I worked full time and maintained good grades while in community college. After transferring, I had to adjust my expectations of what could be accomplished in a day and change my schedule to reflect my increase of responsibilities in relation to school.

What resources were most helpful to you when you were preparing to transfer?

It was most helpful for me to walk into Gould Hall and speak, face-to-face with the program coordinator for Landscape Architecture. She helped me understand exactly what was required of me. I would recommend asking for help as I navigated this mostly on my own, and I found it to be an uncomfortable experience.

What advice do you have for prospective transfer students?

Once you decided what you want to study, I would highly recommend looking at the requirements for the major and gear your prerequisites towards giving you skills that will help you fulfill those requirements. You are your own best advocate; while I received thoughtful advising in community college, they weren’t able to give me informed advice in relation to my future career path, because they didn’t really understand the field. Calling the Department of Landscape Architecture office and asking questions will allow you to make informed decisions about your schedule while you are still preparing to transfer. Certain classes will help you to build your portfolio and give you insights that will help you to have an easier transition into UW. Any visual or digital art classes will be of great use to you! The Adobe Creative Suite will be your new best pal!


How did you decide to pursue a degree in Landscape Architecture?

I have enjoyed a career in horticulture for close to ten years. My passion for plants gave me a jumping point for narrowing down a field of study. As I took classes in community college, I begin to become more interested in issues of equity and public health. In my career, I had met Landscape Architects who shared their enthusiasm for the field. This peaked my curiosity, and I went from there.

What has been your favorite class or project so far, and why?

I really enjoyed the Ecological Systems Studio for a few reasons. It was really engaging to begin to think of ecology in the urban fabric. It was great to compile all the skills and information we have been gaining since the beginning of the year and use it to think about complex problems that still need solutions. In this studio, we cultivated the practice of representation as a research method, and I believe this will always be a part of my design process. Seeing the accumulation of your own thinking and learning has been a powerful experience. This studio tied together my interests with my developing skills and allowed for me to really engage with the material.

You are currently studying abroad in Rome. How has what you’ve learned in Rome supported your learning in the classroom, field, and community?

Studying abroad has been a dynamic experience! It’s amazing to have a city become your classroom, especially as it relates to urban planning and landscape design. This type of educational experience is immersive; it allows you to hone your skills of observations and recording. This is a great opportunity to think about design from the eyes of an outsider. It’s a skill to try and understand a place without knowing it, and every day in Rome is like getting to know a new friend. It takes time to understand its history, its scars, and the things that make it beautiful. I believe this lesson, patience with unfamiliarity, will always affect my work.

This interview originally appeared in the Fall 2017 Transfer Newsletter. For the original article, visit