This one's for you, up-past-midnight grad student, and you, confused sophomore architecture student! School can be hard, but much of doing well has to do with figuring out the system that you're in and taking the right steps to win in that environment. School can be a bit ambiguous and unstructured - you actually have a lot of free time, and what you do with it can greatly impact how well you do. For what it's worth, here are our thoughts about school. Not just surviving the process, but thriving, maintaining physical and mental health, and enjoying it along the way.
SCHEDULING & SLEEP
1. Finish a day ahead of time.
It’s possible, and really, really helpful. If your professor told you it was due on Tuesday, you'd finish on Tuesday, instead of cramming Tuesday night to finish by Wednesday. Knowing when to stop is important. On a related note...
2. Give yourself an hour to print anything.
That plotter might run out of ink!
3. Don't pull all nighters.
These aren't necessary, and the work you do late at night is usually not great.
4. Get eight hours of sleep (at least most of the time).
It's possible. Rest is key!
5. Work during the day. Sleep at night. Like humans do.
Especially if you have a significant other, friends, or aspire to have friends. Try setting a regular schedule and stick to it as best as you can.
6. Take one day every week off.
Your body and your brain greatly benefit from this.
7. Physical activity helps.
8. Read architecture books, frequent good websites (see Design Fuel 001), visit great buildings.
Your professors and future employers can tell if you're well versed in what's going on in the architectural world around you. Absorb as much architecture as you create.
9. Become a graphic designer.
Okay, you're not really going to be one, but you're in control of the visual communication of your projects. Just don't forget that there's a world of graphic designers out there that are much more skilled than we are at graphic design.
10. Don’t use horrible fonts.
11. Figure out which fonts are horrible fonts.
Typewolf is helpful.
12. Ask your peers for advice, but don’t look to their work for inspiration.
13. Your grades don’t really matter. Your portfolio matters.
No one will ask what your GPA was during a job interview at an architecture firm. Focus on creating beautiful architecture.
14. Don’t do everything your professors tell you to do.
They are usually right, though.
15. Don't be perfect.
It's not possible and no fun anyway.
We all have bad habits, especially when presenting to that nightmarish jury full of seemingly wise architecture professionals or tenured faculty. Remember that a bad review isn't the end of the world.
15. Don’t ramble.
16. Don’t argue with a critic. Discuss, yes, but don’t argue.
Humility feels better than pride anyway. They might be wrong, or you might be wrong. Either way, you're usually in pretty subjective waters, so perhaps there's no right answer.
17. Avoid saying “um”, “like”, “i was playing with...”, “sort of”, or “kind of”.
18. Tell a story.
Being memorable is a good thing.
Remember, it's not usually as big of a deal as you think it is. You have a really long time to safely make many mistakes and recover from them. A lot of people are hard on you while you're in school, but you'll be better for it. You can do this!