Attending architecture schools is an unexpected challenge for many students. If you want to become an architect, prepare yourself for how grueling an architecture degree really is. Especially at top architecture schools, studio courses are a rite of passage and a lot of students drop out. For those that make it through, completing a degree in architecture is well worth it. Here are a few ways to cope.
Be prepared to spend a good portion of your waking hours in the studio. You have to accept upfront that you are not going to have the 'typical' college experience of partying and hanging around the dorm. That said, you are trading it for something that is potentially even more rewarding. Studio work in architecture schools is often engaging and interesting, and you'll form lifelong bonds with your classmates. But if you absolutely cannot be deprived of the opportunity to perfect your keg stand technique, maybe you need to reconsider your major.
Learn to manage your time. Many students don't grasp this concept until too late, but some learn to treat their architecture courses like a job. Plan to be there at the same time every morning and work consistently. Make a schedule to assure you will complete all the requirements of the project in time for your critique. Keep lists on a daily basis of the items you must accomplish, but be realistic. If you follow this advice, you will avoid the extremely late nights that make architecture schools infamous. You will also avoid the stress involved with rushing to complete your project just in time for a deadline.
Set aside some time for yourself. Obviously deadlines are an exception, but try to set aside at least one evening a week to have some fun, and also allow yourself to catch up on some sleep. Take a little time occasionally to go on a walk, do yoga, or get some other form of exercise on a daily basis. You spend a lot of hours sitting in architecture school, so a little physical activity is important.
Spend time in your school library flipping through architectural publications. Designing can be intimidating even for an experienced architect, but remember, it's not necessary to reinvent the wheel. Studying precedents is a great way to learn what works and what doesn't and how you can apply this knowledge to your own projects.
Don't neglect your other classes. It's easy to get sucked into the world of architecture studio, but remember you're getting grades for all those other required credits, too. Think of these other classes as a break from studio. Architectural schools can be very focused, but the best architects are knowledgeable about other subjects as well.
- Talk to a few people who are architects or architecture students. Nothing beats a first-hand perspective, but don't be surprised or feel too discouraged when they tell you to get an MBA instead.
- Architecture school is an expensive endeavor. Supplies, travel, and computer equipment can add up fast.
- Don't become an architect because you expect to get rich. That is an unfortunate myth.