Students are Truly Unstoppable at El Camino

June 5, 2024 Torrance, CA

If anyone doubts the academic rigor and faculty support of a community college education, one need look no further than the programs at El Camino College.  With some of the highest transfer rates in California to both University of California and California State University institutions, El Camino has staked out territory that puts it among the top schools in transfer effectiveness.  It is also successful in transferring students to institutions beyond California, including elite schools like Harvard University.  With a transfer acceptance rate that hovers around 1-2%, Harvard University remains one of the most highly competitive institutions for higher education in the United States.   

That is why you do not often hear about the transfer success of a community college student applying to Harvard.  This year however, architecture student Lynn Fyffe is one of those successful transfers. After receiving encouragement and support from a couple of her architecture professors, Lynn was offered a place in the Master of Architecture (MArch III) program at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, better known at the GSD, for Fall 2024. The GSD is well respected amongst architecture academia and is considered the pinnacle of programs by the profession. 

As a graduate with degrees in computer science and engineering, Lynn has often turned to photography and other art pursuits to feed artistic curiosity. She returned as a student to El Camino College in Fall of 2022 to gain cabinet-making skills in the Construction Technology Department and quickly turned her gaze towards the architecture program. “I believe all my interests and experiences are easily transferable to architecture and has given me the unique perspective of seeing the intersection of architecture, arts, and technology,” says Lynn. “The program at El Camino has opened my eyes to the infinite possibilities I could pursue in my next chapter,” she continues.

Lynn’s success in transferring to Harvard’s graduate program highlights a small but growing cohort of returning students with non-design baccalaureate degrees who are interested in pursuing an education in a graduate architecture program. In the last couple of years, the program has been successful in helping a number of returning students gain admission in graduate programs at USC and University of California/ Berkeley, to name a few.  These students work alongside undergraduates to gain design and visual communication skills, as well as knowledge in composing a compelling portfolio to demonstrate their work. “I am currently working with a number of degreed students by emphasizing skill building and portfolio development,” stated Marc Yeber, Assistant Professor for the Architecture and Sustainable Design departments.  He adds, “What I find interesting is to see little distinction in the engagement and collaboration of those students pursuing a first degree and those seeking a second or third.”   

The Architecture Department offers two degrees and several certificates to provide multiple educational pathways for students to pursue. Architecture at El Camino College is both a Career & Technical Education (CTE) program as well as an academic one. The program is located in the Industry & Technology Division along with 15 other CTE programs.