Everything You Must Know as a First Year Architecture Student | SAS Podcast 6

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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 run through the things I wish I knew before and while in my first year of Architecture school.

Specifically, I’ll talk about:

  • How to not fall behind with work
  • Avoiding the temptation of giving into the judgement of others
  • Learning from your mistakes
  • Not getting “stuck” – tips for not getting distracted and wasting time.

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 Student’s Podcast episode six.

Hey guys welcome to the sixth episode of the podcast. Today I want to talk about something that was brought up to me by another student who is a first-year student in France. His name is Tallar. Tallar sent me an email the other day asking for some advice for first year architecture students and I replied to his email giving him a few tips. But I really wanted to delve into this a little bit deeper as I know it’s not the first time I’ve been asked for some advice for first year students. I feel like this is going to be really helpful and hopefully clear up some of those misconceptions about first year in architecture school.

So the first piece of advice I have for first year architecture students is that you don’t have to be perfect and it’s okay not to be the best at what you’re doing. In fact, it’s expected that you suck. First year architecture is all about trying new things. And it’s not so much about developing the actual technical skills of architecture. But it’s more about developing kind of the mindset and the habits of an architecture student that will bring you to become a successful architect in the profession. And so, the way I treated my first year of architecture school was that I wanted to set myself up for the next four years, so that I’ve got a good idea of what I’m getting myself into and what I need to do to be successful at that. However, I feel like a lot of the time students in their first year are super motivated, and they are keen and eager to do really well. And that’s great. And so they push themselves to spend all this time to get the best grades they can to prove to themselves and others that they are going to be successful at what they’re doing. But in my opinion, when I found myself trying super hard, you know, as a young motivated first year student who soon came to realize that you lose a lot of sleep as an architecture student, but we’ll get into that . . .

What I came to realize is that I was spending so much time thinking about the grades I was getting, pushing myself to be the best architecture student I could be. But I was missing all the lessons that came from trying new things.

So, it’s actually expected that you suck in your first year of architecture school. And that’s okay. This should encourage you to try new things and just be enthusiastic at what you’re doing. I wish I knew in my first year of architecture school that no one cares what you’re doing or what you say, I was so scared of stuffing up my presentation or putting my hand up in a lecture to ask a question because I was frightened of what people would think of me. And then I started to realize it’s not high school anymore. You’re not playing a popularity game. You do want to create good connections with people, and you want friends but there’s no point caring what people think, it’s just going to hold you back from becoming a better student. So, in my first year, I got sucked into caring about my grades. I would dwell on a project that I didn’t do too well and, and I would fall behind for the next ones. Once I realized this. I decided to change the way I study and I began just trying new things. If it went well, that’s great. If it didn’t go well. That’s great as well. I learned from the mistakes I made and I was able to move forward and I still am right now.

When I was trying new things my first year, you know, I was allowed to fail, I was allowed to make mistakes that was expected of me. And from making those mistakes, I was able to learn from them and move forward to progress as a student.

I was listening to something Jordan Peterson was saying in one of his lectures, I believe he’s a psychology lecturer in Toronto. I found it fascinating what he said. He says, “how do you succeed?” And the answer is “with experience”, and “how do you get experience?”, “Through failing.” So, failing is directly connected to succeeding.

In your first year of architecture school, don’t focus on being the best. Just focus on getting better with the knowledge that one day you’ll be the best. As I was saying before, I had a fear of speaking out and putting my hand up to ask a question. But I do think that in your first year especially, that it is so important that you talk with your teachers as much as you can. You really need to go out your way to build relationships with them and the other students in your classes. It was actually one of my teachers in my second semester that told me about this. His name was Greg bond.

He runs his own practice in South Australia, his practices called a Atelier Bond. And before I met him, I thought, all these teachers were just students that have graduated and aren’t actually working in the field. But the truth is, all the teachers I’ve had at university, so far, anyway, they’ve all been practicing architects who are either working for themselves or someone else, but they’ve all got experience in the field and know what it’s like to work in an office and work on real projects.

So Greg wasn’t just teaching me technical skills about architecture, but he was also teaching me how to get a job and all these personal skills like how to present myself at the right body language, and how to network with people and how to create a good first impression of yourself so that firm owners and people you meet on the street will want you to work on their projects. And that’s how you build a business from that. And so, what I did in that first year is I disregarded all my other subjects, pretty much. I still put in the work to pass them but I put in all my energy and time into this one subject where Greg was my teacher, I sat in the front row of all my classes, and always put my hand up and just tried new things, especially when he was around because he could correct me if I did something wrong. You could say I was a bit of a teacher’s pet. But I did this on purpose, because I knew it would benefit myself in the long run. At the end of my course, I shook his hand. And two weeks later, I went to his practice just outside the city. I spoke to him for about 20 minutes and handed him my resume. And about 20 minutes after going into that firm, I came out with a two week work experience internship, for later in the holidays.

This opportunity wouldn’t have presented itself if I wasn’t trying new things, and I wasn’t making myself present in my classes by putting my hand up asking questions, having the right body language and building up the relationships with my teachers and my peers. And I know I side-track a lot here. But this kind of made me think that you shouldn’t be overthinking things. If you’re seeing your teachers on a regular basis, then, you know, I wouldn’t get stuck on working on certain specific details and stressing about what your drawings look like or worrying If you’ve done something correctly, because the next time you see your teacher, they’re going to correct your mistakes anyway, and you’ll learn from them.

The fact is that in first year architecture school, you might get stuck on thinking of a concept. And you’ll get so stuck there that you won’t be able to make any progress forward until you do that one thing. Sometimes it’s best just to come up with a quick concept them and move on to the next step. And if you get stuck somewhere else, just leave it and move on. Because you’ll learn so much more by just trying all these different things, and getting them corrected anyway by your teachers, because they’ll let you know what you’ve done wrong. And in the first year, the way you get graded anyway, it’s not about how good your work is, but it’s about how enthusiastic you are about the course. And the fact that you’re trying is what will make you do really well with your grades.

So it’s so much more important to have a high quantity of low quality work than a small quantity of a high quality work, if that makes sense.

So that’s my advice for first year architecture students just try new things. be enthusiastic and don’t care so much about the technical information because you’ll learn that over the next couple of years. Just focus on creating the right habits for yourself so that you set yourself up for success. Throughout the next years. Don’t be afraid of what people think of you, or what you say in your classes. Make sure you’re getting yourself known to your teachers and your peers. And just network with other students. Build up the right relationships and become the best student you can by doing that. Try not to get stuck on small details, just put out a butt-load of work and keep going and keep going. Don’t get stuck trying to Google how a detail looks for two hours, because I’ve been there. And I’ve done that. And it’s a waste of time, and your teacher will tell you exactly how to do it the next day anyway.

So, it’s just better to try something as best as you can. Put in the effort to try but if you get stuck, move on to the next thing.

I hope you guys found it helpful and I’ll see you on the next episode of the Successful Archi Student’s Podcast.

Hey guys, I just want to take a moment to say thank you for your support with Successful Archi Student. In fact, I just spent countless hours working on a project and a resource that I think is really going to help you guys succeed as architecture students. The resource is called the Successful Archi Student’s forum. So now, Archi Students like you can share your amazing projects and you can meet new friends and get feedback and discuss anything architecture. If you want to get on board and join the community of Successful Archi Students, then head over to our website successfularchistudent.com/community/. Register an account for the forums. It’s completely free.

And I encourage you to introduce yourself and let us know who you are, where you study and why you love architecture. I can’t wait to see you guys in the forum. Check the description of this video or if you’re listening to the podcast, check the show notes and register for a free account today on the forums.


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.

Resources Mentioned

Join the best community for Architecture students! http://successfularchistudent.com/community/

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