Why I Don’t Care About My Grades in Architecture School – the Importance of Failure | SAS Podcast 4

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Hey! My name’s Kyle.

From a sample of 25,000 students that applied to enter architecture school:
15.30% of them were accepted.
8.50% of them made it through to the second half of their education.
2.04% of them were awarded a degree in Architecture (post-graduate)
0.78% of them ended up working a job in architecture.

Successful Archi Student is a platform for architecture students to learn off one another to become the LESS THAN 1% of students who end up being successful in the profession.

On the podcast, you’ll hear from practicing architects, other successful students and myself, Kyle, a third year architecture student from South Australia.

Doing so, you’ll learn the tips and tricks to excel past the rest of your cohort and build the skills needed to take your work to another level.

On today’s episode, I talk through some of my reasoning behind why I don’t care about my grades in architecture school.

Specifically, I’ll talk about:

  • Learning from your grades
  • The best lessons in life aren’t from your successes, but your failures
  • Pushing yourself into new challenges, outside of your comfort zone.
  • Caring about the opinions of others

I hope you enjoy the show! Feel free to discuss anything in the comments below. I try to respond to every comment 🙂

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This is the Successful Archi Students podcast episode four.

Hey guys, welcome to today’s show. Today I want to talk about why I don’t care so much about my grades and the importance of failure. And I’ll talk about some my mistakes and some of the things I’ve failed as well so that you guys can learn from them.

So before getting into any of this, I just want to ask and put out a simple question of how many of you go through the feedback that your tutors or your jurors or your teachers, whatever you want to call them, that they give you? Do you go through the feedback that they leave on your assessments and on your submissions? I ask this because I never used to. The way it would work for me is that I would do an assessment, I would do my project, I would hand it up and I would get my grades back and I’d look at my grades like oh, cool, I did really well, really bad or really average, then I’d move on. There was nothing after receiving my grade. I wouldn’t really do anything with my feedback. I might say that “Oh, okay. I could do this better, this better. I did well at this”, but there was no real analysing of the things that my tutors were saying.

However, I believe the best lessons in life aren’t from your successes, but from your failures. And I completely believe that you don’t have to be the best at everything you do. There is room for making mistakes and failing and not doing really well as you think you would, because that’s okay. And I’ll be completely transparent here. I just got my grades back for my semester, my second year, second semester. So I’m now finished second year, I got my grades back. And I did well in two of my subjects, in design studio and in my design media, however, I didn’t do so well in my design construction multi story. In fact, I got a P2, which is just, actually, I got a P1, which is just passing pretty much And to be honest, it doesn’t bother me at all what the grade was, and I think it’s okay to fail. Because if you’re not failing, you’re not pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and outside your boundaries that you know, however, I don’t think it’s okay to fail the same thing twice, because that means you’re not learning from your mistakes and you’re kind of just skimming over the things you’ve done bad. And there’s no lesson to be learned from that. So I didn’t do too well in this one subject. However, I didn’t dwell on it. Instead, I asked myself, why did I do bad in this? It’s a Simple question. But if you don’t ask it, then you won’t realize where you went wrong and you won’t be able to learn from your mistakes.

And so what I used to do, where I just move on, after I see received my grade, I was lacking them in the next semester and the next semester and the next semester after that, because I haven’t learned from my previous mistakes, and so there’s no progressing forward. So after my semester, what I did is I grabbed a pad in the pen, and I wrote down my three subjects design media, design, studio design, construction, multi story, and I wrote down the grades I got, and I started with the one I did best, which was my studio, and I considered why I did as well as I did. And the reason was because I went to all my classes and I brought work every single week that my teachers could give me feedback on and I could go on, grab their feedback and make changes to my work base of what they said about my design, maybe I did well at that because I just slaved on that for lots and lots of hours and why I didn’t do So Well, on my construction multistorey I wrote down: because I didn’t go to all my classes, I became lazy.

I would always be the last to talk to my teachers during my tutoring sessions. And by the end of the day, I would be tired and I’d be hungry and I’d make the excuse of that I’m too hungry, I’m going to go home and eat and then sleep. However, I did this once I did this maybe twice, maybe three times. And that compounds up and it builds up. And so when you fall behind one week, that’s going to keep on rolling over to the next week and the next week, and you’re really going to fall extremely behind. And that’s exactly what happened to me. I fell behind from the start, because I was lazy and I was making excuses not to go to my class. And so I missed out on the opportunity of talking with my teachers and getting their feedback so that I can make amendments and changes to my own work and that is ultimately the reason why I didn’t do so well in this subject. I put in the same amount of hours I would put into any other project. But because I didn’t have that feedback, I wasn’t able to make the changes. And I wasn’t able to understand what I was doing wrong. And so when it came to it, my details were completely wrong. And although they looked really nice, and I put in the time and effort to, you know, try my hardest with them, I just didn’t have the same result as everybody else, because I didn’t have that opportunity of talking with my teachers, because I deprived myself of that opportunity. So yes, I’m blaming myself completely. And I think that’s also very important to do as well.

If you’re blaming other people, and you’re making alibis saying that they’re the reason why you didn’t do so well. You know, “I had bills to pay”, “ I didn’t have the time to work on it because I was working on something else” or “an event came up”. Well, that’s okay. But blame yourself for it because then you can learn from it and move on. So that next time you don’t make that same mistake.

So there’s this quote, which goes, “the smoothest stone is always in the roughest part of the stream.” And what that kind of means in terms of being an architecture student is that through failing and being pushed through the shitty times and the hard times, that is what makes you the best student you can be because you’re then learning from your mistakes and becoming a lot more knowledgeable.

I believe that if you’re not failing, then you’re not pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and outside of your own boundaries, so that you can’t learn. But this raises the question, why do we care about our grades anyway? Most the time, it’s to impress other people around us, whether it be our family or our friends, or the people we go to school with. We want to look like we’re doing well so that we can feel good about ourselves. However, I don’t think you should care about the opinions of others because that will be holding you back from trying new things.

You might have one specific architectural drawing style. However, if you never try something new then you might not know if there’s a better way to do it. So rather than using your same style every single semester you have, I think you should probably try different things and spice it up so that you’re not always doing that same thing. And you might not get as good of a grade as you usually would. But then you will know for next time that if you can, you can rule that one out. But you never know, that architectural drawing style might be a lot better than the one you originally had. But you wouldn’t know that if you didn’t try it. So you’ve got to try new things.

So I think that’s my lesson for you guys today. Don’t stop learning after you receive your grades. Definitely analyse why you did the way you did. So why you got an average grade, why you got a really good grade or why you did a really why you got a really bad grade this semester. Because if you don’t ask yourself those questions, you can’t learn from the work you’ve been doing. I think a lot of the time we skip over the feedback because we’re only caring about getting the work done and getting our grade and then getting our degree and that’s the end of it. But if you want to be successful it’s a lot more than that. You really need to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. And you need to be able to have some clarity in that so that you can get better at the stuff you’re going to be doing. Because ultimately, what you’re doing now is what you’re going to be doing in the future as your profession. And you’re going to have clients and you’re going to, if you want to run your own firm, you need those skills before you you’re able to work for yourself and create the lifestyle you want from that.

So you can learn from your successes, but you will learn even more from your failures because then you can move forward. It’s okay to fail just don’t fail the same thing twice. And that is ultimately why I don’t care about my grades in architecture school.

I hope you guys enjoyed this episode. If you did, please leave some feedback. Leave some comments and message me on Instagram.

I’ll see you on the next episode of the Successful Archi Student’s Podcast.


If you have a project you want to delve in to and discuss, or you have some useful tips for other students you think would be helpful, please, send me an email to kyle@successfularchistudent.com and get in touch about it!
Otherwise, direct message me on Instagram @successfularchistudent and I’ll be keen to set up a skype call.

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