Thinking of studying architecture, or perhaps already enrolled?
Here are 10 things you need to know before starting architecture school.
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What to Know Before Studying Architecture
- Architecture isn’t just designing buildings. You need a mix of skills – or a willingness to learn
A lot of students go into architecture school thinking they’ll just be drawing buildings and creating cool designs. Architecture is a mix of so many different skills and so you need a mix of skills to be successful – or – you need a willingness and an open mind to learning new skills and not getting stuck on old ways.
- Architecture is difficult.
Just because there’s no exams, it doesn’t mean it’s easy. In fact. Architecture can be quite difficult. Architecture is very much a profession involving a lot of problem solving and deep thinking. It’s not necessarily an easy course to study but if you’re up for the challenge it can be extremely rewarding.
- It’s a long road ahead.
Get ready for a long journey – you don’t stop learning. Ever. I don’t just mean get ready for 5-7 years of formal education – I mean get ready to learn every single day for the rest of your life. Architects, or good architects, never stop learning. Something my dad always tells me is to improve in any little way, every single day. Doing so, you’re becoming a better person and you’re changing your life for the better. Get ready for a long degree, followed by a long profession of learning and experimenting with new things.
Leading into the next point,
- There’s no “set way” of doing things. Try new things and experiment.
Architecture is subjective. There’s no set-in stone way of designing or doing things. Those students who are most successful in architecture school are the ones who step outside their comfort zone, step away from what everyone else is doing and experiment with their own ideas and ways of doing things.
- Those who practice outside of their formal education do best.
Architecture school, and any formal education really, are made to teach generalised information for the masses. With a class of 100+ students, it’s not made to teach individually. If you want to gain specialised skills and learn something difficult that others aren’t, you need to practice architecture outside of your university degree. You need to push yourself to better yourself in ways others aren’t. That’s how you create opportunities for yourself and strive to be a better person.
- Don’t get discouraged by other’s experiences from school.
Social media, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube is filled with architecture memes and comments from other students, complaining how they don’t get any sleep, they don’t have any money, they haven’t learnt anything. Don’t let other people’s experiences discourage you from studying architecture. If you stick to your own guns and stay in your own lane. Focus on bettering yourself every single day in every single way – you’ll find yourself getting better and better. If you’re trying to build the biggest tower in your city, you don’t have to pull down everyone else’s, rather just put in the work and build the biggest tower. What I’m trying to say is don’t let what everyone else is doing influence you and your thoughts.
- The more time you spend on a project, the better it’s going to be. But your design will never be finished.
From what I’ve experienced and been studying, I’ve found that the more time you spend on something, you better you’re going to be at it. The more time you spend on a project, the better it’s going to be. If you were to put students’ grade into a chart against how much time they spend on their classes – you’d see a direct correlation between the amount of time they spend on it to the grade they get. The more time you spend, the higher the grade. You need to be able to manage your time and not leave everything for the last minute. And again, this is something you’ll learn with experience.
- You must be a good listener.
Architecture is very much about listening. If you don’t listen, you can’t design to the client’s brief, you can’t work with engineers, surveyors, builders and other contractors, you can’t make the changes your teachers are suggesting. If you’re a good listener, you’ll go very far.
- You can’t be in it for the money.
I just made a video on this. If you’re going into architecture for the money, you’re going to fail. If you’re going into architecture because it’s something, you’re passionate about and will enjoy doing, you’ll go far, and end up making a lot of money as an indirect result.
- Just say yes. There’s nothing stopping you from doing a semester and then dropping out. You have plenty of time. If you’re 17 years old or 47 years old, you’re not even halfway through your life. You’ve got plenty of time. Don’t think that you’ll be wasting 6 months of your life for trying architecture school. It’s an experience nonetheless and if you think you’ll enjoy it – just say yes and give it a go. Having this give it a go mentality will take you far in anything you do in life, so it’s worth adopting this mindset.
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