October 23, 2012

The Underdog Architecture Student's "10 Things" Response

A recent blog entry by Linda Bennett from Archi-Ninja.com, listing the top the 10 things architecture school does not teach you, was tweeted to me from our friends at the Designated Sketcher, along with their blog response to it. Likewise, I decided to add to this online discussion of studio culture through a blog post as well for the underdog architecture student that struggles.

Now, from the blog, the top 10 things Architecture School doesn't teach, as I quote Archi-Ninja:
1) Forget about winning and losing
2) Your Professor is your client
3) Play the momentum
4) Break the Rules
5) Have Broad Influences + Mentors
6) Have Cause and Conviction
7) Upskill
8) Build Meaningful relationships
9) Learn Project Management
10) Don’t Expect the Outcome
These 10 points are great lessons to pick up on to succeed and stay ahead of the game in architecture school as well as in your professional career after college - I suggest you see both blog entries to get a fuller and better understanding of them. To be honest, some of these points I still struggle with after school, or realizing much more today after my undergrad experience. Others were just inherent. Some points I mastered and had to realize after failing and making mistakes. Instead of elaborating on the 10 I really want to point out  an overarching lesson or theme that is shown with these points that you need to understand about our architectural education experience:

Architecture school is going to put you under pressure to become 
independent and confident individuals one way or another 

The all-nighters, the short working time of a project, the somehow coincidental nature of your deadlines being placed on day after the other - There is purpose: to become independent and confident. How? Under the pressure, you will learn about yourself – how you design, your ethic, your competence, how you handle and manage stressful situations. It’s about realizing these things and learning and improving one’s self. It’s about being strategic and it’s about being resourceful – which covers the independent aspect.

To be confident - It takes time, practice and doing things over and over in order to become proficient. The assignments and projects are supposed to teach you to use your resourcefulness in learning how to figure it out yourself. For instance, my biggest pitfall was expecting to be taught the design software...and hearing from a professor in third year that you have to learn it on your own. You’re not gonna get it right sometimes, but you have to try in order to learn. Here’s a TEDx Talk from my alma mater about self-confidence:

As high school graduates we are dropped into the great jungle that is university. And coming in at a young age, means that we have not yet acquired the skills to handle the stresses at a satisfactory level. Architecture school is tough, and you will make mistakes, get stressed out, and frustrated. For me, I failed, fell behind, repeated studio, went through counselling to hone some of  the points mentioned in the 10 Things. I had to get involved in student groups to hear from students and learn from them. I was engaged more in the field I was studying in order to turn around. It’s tough, and I still challenge with these things. So, in addition to top the ”10 Things” I’m going to add one more for you students – it’s something that I still struggle with, but had to realize:

11) Be compassionate to yourself.
Attempting the previous 10 points will take time. Not everyone has it all down to a tee. There will always be people better and worse off than you and you have to realize that your success is how you have grown as a person – comparing yourself to others is an unjust comparison. You’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to get those times when you feel insufficient and frustrated. 

We must be "process-oriented" individuals to improve as a person. We ourselves are constantly iterating ourselves to become a better version. Just like a design – it keeps going forward and never stops. Realize that becoming a professional architect takes time and that all the efforts you put are working towards honing your craft and abilities. Every failure, mistake, setback has it’s purpose to inform you of where to go. Like what Steve Jobs said in his Standord convocation address - you will only be able to connect the dots looking back and not looking forward. Stay patient, be positive, and be hopeful. I looked back at my educational career and realized that I could have dropped out and given up easily during moments of adversity., There was and still is that voice self-doubt to we all have to fight through, but I used passion and persistence and most of all compassion to myself to get me to graduation. 

Failing and Being a Failure - they're actually both different.
Traits Architecture Students must have
Mental Health Awareness for the Architecture Student.
Process! Process! Process!

1 comment:

  1. Uly,

    I read your post and agree with what you added. When I was responding, I always want to make sure that my answers took a different approach, but I like how you summarized the points and went straight to your over arching goal. I also really liked the idea of being "process oriented". Once you understand the basics of how you work, you can understand how to move forward, experiment and get fancy. Almost all the topics we covered are advanced concepts and are aimed at maximizing your potential in school and beyond, but you need the fundamentals to build from. Design process is part of that fundamental approach.