Things I Wish I’d Known Before Starting An Architecture Degree

So, the end of third year is looming, and I’m looking forward to starting a job with my field, ready for a life of working from 9-5… or am I? Being an architecture student, the end of third year hardly means anything. Yes, you’re about to go out into the world and get a job, but you’re only expected to do that job for a year before the shackles of university pull you back into to complete the your masters, RIBA Part 2. As someone who does not want to follow down this route, it’s difficult to talk to people about jobs when they expect me to eventually go back to uni to “finish” my degree. Apparently a BA in Architecture doesn’t mean that much out in the real world compared with other degrees. And this is but one aspect of architecture I have learnt during my time a university that I wish I had known beforehand. So here are a few other things I would have liked to have known.

Becoming an architect takes longer than becoming a doctor. I was told that a full architecture degree would be about six years (including one year out), and therefore assumed I would be a fully qualified architect by this time. Boy, was I wrong. In fact, it takes on average 13 years for a person to become an architect. After completing a masters degree people usually work for a few years before taking an exam, costing thousands of pounds, to then be able to call themselves an architect. It is also for this reason that a lot of my tutors are quite old, since it’s taken a long time for them to get to the teaching stage. Some were even studying for a PhD in their late 30s.

Everything is objective. So, you like using computers and can make a pretty decent model on your computer, great! However, your tutor loves hand drawings or, even worse, were too old to learn computer modelling during their university studies. Basically, you will get lower marks, and you have to either learn to live with it or try to learn a new skill very quickly. I spent an entire year getting berated by my tutors for not drawing enough, despite my drawing skills not being up to scratch, and have really rubbish marks to prove it.

“University students have loads of free time” HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. No I’m not sleep deprived and insane… I swear… Okay as you can tell this one definitely rubs me up the wrong way. At this point in time, I’m lucky to get a free day, let alone a weekend. Friendships are solely defined by who you go to the library and do work with, or who you sit with to have lunch in studio. Night outs are reserved for special occasions, such as after handing in the terms coursework, and if you do happen to go out for an evening, you’ll be regretting it the next day when you have to get up early to do work. If that’s not bad enough, I don’t know anyone who is part of a society, and those that were dropped out of the course or failed first year which is crazy considering how much of a huge part of university societies have become.

If you still want to study architecture after reading this then by all means go ahead. You’ll appreciate this after a few months.

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