Life of an architecture school student: the beginning of the fall semester is quickly approaching, and prospective architecture school life is gearing up for the beginning of their future careers. While the next step may seem daunting, the first year of your architecture education helps set the pace for the remaining four to five years. So it’s important to get started on the right foot. Do buildings speak to you? Not literally, of course, but are you always admiring the curves, shape, and body of architecture, imagining what the designer was trying to convey through its shape?
Architecture studios are notorious for long nights, intensive model-making and desks overflowing with trace paper and parts diagrams. But there is one important aspect of studio life or architecture school life that is too often neglected: the student-professor relationship.
How to be a successful architecture school student
Read on for the steps to start investing in this unique relationship to set yourself up for success.
Be present and on time
As a first-year architecture student, you are not only starting the arduous journey to become an architect, you are also making the transition to student life in general.
First and foremost, it is important to understand the commitment associated with making that transition successfully. The freedom that comes with being in college is difficult for some to handle.
The only thing standing between you and your attendance in class is you. It should go without saying, but studio professors notice the effort that comes with being in class (and being in class on time).
it may seem simple, but punctuality is the first step in fostering a positive relationship with your instructors.
Be prepared to study hard
The educational aspect of this career begs to be repeated. Some may breathe a sigh of relief upon graduation. However, a career in architecture requires a lifetime commitment to continued education-especially for those who want to create a competitive edge in the market.
The face of cities and architecture is continually in flux. So an architect that wants to lead the way and succeed must be willing to continue their education throughout the span of their career.
Take the initiative
After you make sure you’ve fine-tuned your schedule and attendance, the next step is a conversation. For most, it can be intimidating as a young student to talk with teachers and professors.
But if you take the initiative and step out of your comfort zone and do something as simple as introducing yourself, it will go a long way in earning the respect of your professors.
In architecture studios, design crits happen nearly daily, so there are opportunities to talk with your studio instructor. But in order to take that relationship a step further, it will require you to take the initiative.
Architecture requires strong math skills?
There is a question mark behind this title because some architects may actually disagree with the idea that strong math skills are paramount to being an architect as the equations.
They use in their everyday working tasks are rather simple, rudimentary math. However, universities still require excellent high school math scores.
Essentially, being strong in math will certainly not hurt your chances, but being poor at math may hinder them. Here is a list of the basic math skills that will be expected of you in college.
Get involved in research projects
Once you’ve laid the proper foundation, this step is perhaps the most important. Many professors throughout their tenure at a university must complete one (or sometimes multiple) research project within their specialized field.
Getting involved in their research projects affords you valuable experience, one-on-one mentorship and even the possibility for grant or university funding. Find a professor specializing in a design field you find interesting (computational design, housing, sustainability, acoustics, biomimicry, etc.) And offer your assistance.
Completing research can result in awards, publication and other resume-boosting accolades. But most importantly, being involved in this process will undoubtedly improve your student-professor relationship.
Learn the great architects of the past
Delving into the past is always a great idea, no matter what career you are interested in pursuing. Everyone can learn a lot about the past greats in their fields of study.
This really rings true for a student of architecture as there are so many amazing historical architects. Why going back in time will make you a better architect, says it all: “looking back in time can make you a better architect and can help you rediscover your passion for design.
Reminding yourself of what has been, gives you a foundation for the future.” So look up some of the famous historical architects and gain inspiration from their work.
Create your network with architecture industries
This step proves the old adage, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” yes, design software and construction knowledge are notable and important in the job search, but even more important is the network you develop within the building industry.
Many students miss the fact that the closest connections they have in the professional world are their professors.
There are a number of instructors that maintain a practice while teaching, and as part of their investment in your success, they are prepared to share their connections.
Internships are a vital part of your education, and if you take the time to help out your professors, they will undoubtedly return the favor.
Be a good studio neighbor
These are people you’ll be working with for 4-5 years to leave a good impression!
Respect others: unless you’ve been given explicit permission, don’t touch other people’s models and don’t rifle through the stuff on their desk. It sounds like common sense, but sometimes curiosity can get the best of you.
Respect the space: keep studio a place for work. Architecture school can be fun, and it’s easy to get sidetracked by good friends after many long working hours. However, keep the fun – especially if it’s loud, to other parts of the school where people aren’t trying to do their work. Take calls outside and listen to music on your headphones.
Keep spare clothes/deodorant in your studio locker: there’s no real replacement for a shower, but your colleagues will thank you for your consideration.
A tin of mints goes a long way: they can help with everything from long nights to coffee breath to networking.
Make it clear when you want to work: nothing says, “do not disturb” like a hoodie and headphones.
Throw away your smartphone
Studies show that people spend on average around five hours a day on their smartphones. Also, in 2016, the average person spent 109 minutes on social media.
Not to mention all the energy spent and the head space of thinking about what people are saying, the jealousies, the trying to make other people jealous-all the fear and loathing.
I suggest staying focused on what you’re doing. You don’t have to show people your models, your work (start a website/digital portfolio for that!), your interesting life. It’s only a distraction.
Plus, this election season is only going to get nastier. You don’t need to subject yourself to that.
Come with a rhythm in mind, then be prepared to change it
Know what schedule works for you and your body. Are you a morning person who is productive from 6am-8:30 while everybody else is still cursing their alarm, their boss, their family, their life?
So, get up early and get to work. Don’t feel like you have to do what everyone else is doing in terms of their workflow-staying up all week until a project is done.
Find out what pace and schedule your body and mind need to stay productive. And remember: research shows that taking consistent breaks throughout the day produces productivity. Don’t think that killing yourself and never sleeping is what you need to do.
Crux: Are you currently an architecture student? If so, what are your biggest hurdles that you have encountered so far? We’d love to hear from you! Ultimately, your professors are there for you. The invest in your education, and making an effort to get involved will inevitably pay dividends later on.