Friday, August 07, 2009

What to do during the summer before your 3rd year of Architecture School

3rd year of architecture school can be very overwhelming and a lot of fun. If you are in a Bachelor of Architecture program, hang in there you are almost half way done to completing your professional degree. If you are in a pre-professional program, now is a really good time to start thinking about where you would like to complete your Master of Architecture professional degree if it will be different from your undergraduate program. But school is not all you should be thinking about as it comes to your career. Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind as prepare for your next year in school.

Time Management in Architecture School

I know this might sound cliche but really it is a life saver when it comes to your classes. Now that you have gotten through your first two years of school, take a look at your GPA. If you still have over a 3.5, great job! If not, no sweat, hopefully the registrar is allowing you to register for class and therefore you aren't too far down on the GPA scale. So what does this have to do with time management? Well, now that you are an upperclassmen, your social calendar will fill up more than it has in the past. You will want to do what you can to maintain those grades as long as you can.

I found that time management was key to overcoming the analysis paralysis that affects every designer at some level. I suggest starting with each of your known deadlines and charting them out on a printed calendar or a piece of paper. It is important to do write this down, so you commit to the dates, don't fret you can transfer more of the detail to your online calendars at a later time. Writing it down on paper is permanent decision making that allows you to move on to the next decision.

Now you should have a good idea how long it might take to complete tasks after two years of school. On each day leading up to your deadlines, set aside 8 hours to sleep, no matter how well you think you work on little to no sleep, you always perform better rested and refreshed. Then schedule backwards to have a good idea of how much time you need to dedicate to your project. Of course there is probably a good chance you may not have all of the requirements of each project, so take an opportunity to talk with your professor about your upcoming requirements. The more information the better you are prepared. Remember this is why you are planning ahead now so you will be successful throughout the school year.

Once you have your projects on your calendar, jot down some idea of when you should have 60% or more of your project completed. Throughout the year work towards meeting these deadlines. Of course this is just a guide but the better you are at sticking to your predetermined dates, the more successful you will be throughout the year.

Important points:

  • Know your deadlines

  • Set side time to rest and sleep your brain

  • Set benchmarks to assist you with completing the process

Social Networking Sites

What do all those posts and pictures have to do with architecture school, you might be asking. Well now during the summer, it is a good time to take a close look at what your identity is to the world. Unless you are a very reserved individual, you do not need to lock down your profile through your privacy settings so tight that no one can find you, but you may find managing your identity would be easier if privacy settings are the steps you need to take. Social networking sites can be very useful in presenting yourself to others, however your professionalism should be evident in your profile. Here is a good article on Twitter and Facebook etiquette for job hunters, remember you may want to find a job one day.

It is important to remember that people are viewing your profile, along with the thousands of computers with programs that crawl data, and make judgements about that information based on their personal experiences. Here is where social networking becomes very valuable. You have the ability to demonstrate your writing ability, your social skills (not by the number of followers per se, but through interaction with non-local individuals), and your personal preferences – photos, videos, fan pages and other applications. Keep in mind, many people will have viewed your public page before they sit down with you. That being said, don't fret about what your identity says, it should be you. There may be a future partner, boss or client that loves 311 just as much as you do and would love to talk about your passion for music and creativity it brings to your design. But on the same token, your frequent trips to the beach to party hard may cause a potential relationship to avoid further contact in order to prevent an inappropriate episode from reflecting badly on them in the future.


If you haven't learned by now, documenting your work is very important. Hopefully you have been mentored by your professors or older students that have impressed upon you the value of recording the work that you do in studio and other classes. If you have not been fortunate enough to have that experience, start documenting now. Digitally document your work and find some way to annotate what each image is in your recording process. At a minimum write down the date that you created the diagram or image and where you created it to help jog your memory in the future.

These are just a few of the suggestions that I found helpful in my collegiate experience. Please comment below if you have a suggestion that you believe could help someone going into their 3rd year of architecture school.

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