August 14, 2012

The Almighty All-Nighter (Part II)

The Almighty All-Nighter: not necessary, but it is inevitable. For others, necessary in architecture school. They are stressful and unhealthy, and yet we are proud to boast of our 3 to 4 night marathon. (Even friends in architecture school were concerned of a lot of my late nights when I hit a 2nd night in a row). I've seen students that have come up with the best stuff and worked the graveyard shift to have stellar projects, and I've seen students that are not able to make the most of the extra hours deeming it in vain.

Now there will be those students, which I mentioned in the previous post that might have a harder time. Some will become late bloomers in learning how to manage their time to cope with the workload more effectively. Some students will have to get a part-time job, some students will have to commute, some students have other obligations in extracurriculars. The only real solution I can give is to really organize your priorities and if one cannot be placed on the backburner, then realize you have to make up for lost time in studio (stay later in school before commuting, realizing that you’ll have to stay up a little more later than the rest of us, or realize that you have to be comfortable with your performance at school even if it is not the best as you wished for – (harder for me, I was quite the perfectionist and really really wanted to get high marks ). 

There’s a lot to say, we can also challenge the professors and the beaux arts tradition. We can also speculate and challenge how elitist architectural education is since students that are affluent or well off can easily opt out, comfortably, to work, while others have no choice, or like my choose to not in hopes that this sacrifice will pay off. However, ultimately, you have realize that you are the captain of your own ship and must be willing to accept the consequences of your actions.

I was looking for other blogs if they tackle the same thing – all-nighters in an architecture studio. I was talking to some students on an online architecture student facebook group and asked for feedback. Jeff Pastva, founder of the Designated Sketcher - a website that dedicated to helping architecture students, mentioned the importance of learning to manage your time as it is vital from his experience in the working world of architecture.
"While many students wear the all Nighter ( AN for here on out ) like a badge of honor, now that I have been a professional for 6 years I believe you would be better served using your time more efficiently throughout the day.  This would actually avoid the final crunch that often leaves students scrambling last minute to get that last line, glue that last piece, plot that last diagram.  One of the main reasons why it is so important to manage your time wisely throughout the semester is because it allows you time to prep your verbal presentation and defense.  Presenting your project should be a key element - graphically, visually, & verbally - that if you are cramming things in at the end, they often don't have the cohesion you need at final crit. 
Now, this all comes from experience and it's hard to impart professional habits on students, but I think its possible to avoid the AN altogether if time management is utilized properly."

I agree with what Jeff said after his feedback on my previous entry. Now that I am done school, I am realizing more that the stressful All-nighter is an issue for those who are new to architecture school, primarily undergraduate students, since there is a tendency that high school has not made you mature, nor gave you enough coping strategies and a hard workload for you to learn how to effectively manage your time and develop a serious work ethic within you. 

I learned the hard way (and still learning), and had to realize that some of my coping strategies (aka bad working habits) I have acquired in high school failed in college. Back then, it was easier to skip a class, it was easier to avoid the work when you didn’t feel like doing it and rush it at the last minute for that A-grade assignment, and it was easy to take an hour of playing video games when you were done your high school drafting class assignment – but university is a real beast and those working habits can do some real long term damage than high school, and the only way to fix it is to pay your dues and work your way out of them.

Now, I do not know if the all-nighter can be easily avoided, after all, beginning a university course in design means that you will have to think of your design much more deeply, learn new things (e.g. software to model making), deal with group projects where your time is at the hands of other students. And you have to enjoy being in studio and also partake in the studio culture. All of these issues will add up, becoming time consuming in the beginning. From my experience, if you do not put your best foot forward in architecture school and don’t bank on enough hours of exploring your design, the software and tools you need to know, and fail to manage your collaborating with your peers, this can ultimately impact how you will perform in later years. You are going to make mistakes at the onset, from time to time to learn from those negative outcomes of how to do better the next time around. 

I learned that the best way to deal with a challenging situation is to tackle the issue as opposed to avoiding it. The more you tackle a problem (for instance, learning a software), the more you become proficient – the less time and struggle is needed the next time your run into that situation - all because you banked that experience. Those are the things I want to drive home in this entry.  Think about the challenges, tasks, and assignments in architecture school as a hurdle race, just that you can’t avoid the barriers– you must jump...avoiding the obstacles is more like pushing the obstacles closer, and as they accumulate, the harder it is to finish and jump out of the situation, and probably will take a longer time to go through them to catch up.

You need experience to become proficient. The issue goes into the All-Nighter, but this ultimately becomes how you manage yourself in Architecture School.

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