College, in general, is a huge step up in terms of academic load compared to secondary education (Highschool). Usually, most first-year students in college find themselves in an adjustment period during their first semester in college.
It’s often said that architecture is one of the most demanding courses in any university. Given the number of hours that a student needs to put into the course per week to pass the semester, it’s often been an inside joke that the degree program of architecture should be renamed to architorture.
By now, you’re probably asking, “How can I possibly enjoy my years in college while taking architecture considering all of this stuff I have to do?”
Do architecture students have a social life? Despite the demanding amount of work while studying, with proper time management and a solid work ethic, architecture students can still enjoy a social life.
Why is architecture such a time-consuming course?
Architecture students, as they progress through the course, are asked by professors to do projects with increasing complexity. There are many topics and skills that an architecture student needs to learn before they can become an architect. Here’s a brief list of what an architecture student learns throughout the course.
- CAD(Computer Aided Drawing)
- Basic engineering(Structurals, Electrical)
- Laws (Building code, fire codes, ordinances, working practice)
- Construction (how things are built in a site)
- Urban planning
This is just a brief list of subjects and skills that an architecture student needs to master throughout their stay in college.
Aside from studying, architecture students are also expected to do projects that apply everything that they’ve learned from the course. Most courses start out basic, and as the student learns more and more about the course, the project increases in complexity and standards to be met.
A typical project, also known as plates, takes around 100 hours of productive work to complete. Here’s a breakdown of the workflow for a typical architecture student.
|Project requirements||Hours required|
|Research( Includes site analysis, urban planning, context and etc.)||30|
|Programming (The creation of requirements and needs based on research)||10|
|Design and refinement (Creating an aesthetically pleasing design that meets the programming)||40|
|Output (Drawings, Rendering, and final presentation)||20|
* This number is not set in stone. A student may work faster or slower than this pace, depending on the project.
** This is only to give a general idea of how long it takes to finish a project, some projects may require more hours to complete and some may require less.
In summary, the reason why architecture is such a time-consuming course is that it requires a student to be knowledgeable in everything related to a building and applying that knowledge in creating their own designs.
Time management tips for architecture students
As heavy as the requirements are for architecture students, it’s still very much possible to find room to breathe, given the right mindset, work ethic, and planning.
A general rule of thumb is to always pace and distribute your work in such a way that, on a daily basis, you get work done.
The worst mistake and one that almost every architecture student makes is trying to cram projects when the deadline is near. As much as possible, never do this because you’ll always end up with a lower quality output compared to an unrushed work with the same hours.
Here’s an applicable example of how you can pace and distribute your work. For a project that requires around 100 hours of productive work to complete, a professor would usually give the students around two months before submission.
100 hours may seem like an intimidating goal, but if managed properly, it can easily be achieved, and you’ll still be able to have a social life while studying.
The most basic way to do this is to set micro goals and macro goals and also by creating timelines and internal deadlines for yourselves. Some professors will set mini-deadlines to avoid their students from cramming while others may not. Either way, it’s a good habit to practice and one that you should apply to your studies as soon as you can.
Here’s what a two month timeline with deadlines would look like:
|Week 1||Macro research|
|Week 2||Micro research|
|Week 4||Design iteration 1|
|Week 5||Design iteration 2|
|Week 6||Design iteration 3|
|Week 7||Finalize Design.|
|Week 8||Finalize drawings,model and presentation.|
With this schedule this is how much work you would need to put in per day:
- Week 1 & 2- Around 2 hours of work per day.
- Week 3- Around 1 hour of work per day.
- Week 4 to 7 – Around 1 hour of work per day.
- Week 8- Around 3 hours of work per day.
The technique to time management here is to delegate the work to days in which you have more free time. If you know you have an exam on Friday of Week 1 for another subject, what you can do is either work earlier in the week or later into the week.
If you have a dinner planned with friends and you know you’ll end up hungover the next day, it would be smarter to delegate time in such a way that you would be finished by Thursday.
How you can improve your workflow to work faster (as an architecture student)
Here is a few tips,tricks and general advice to have a better workflow as an architecture student
- Design your workflow.
The more you do projects, the better you will be at working on them, as in all things, practice makes perfect. Create a system in such a way that you will always know what to do next. With the complexity and the enormous amounts of time required to complete a project, it’s easy to get lost, and sometimes it can get difficult to figure out what you need to do next.
A systematic approach to how you work and consistently using that system for every project will help you stay on top of things and reduce the amount of time wasted on unproductive work (doodling, unnecessary research, watching youtube videos and movies for “inspiration”).
A systematic approach would be continuously setting out small goals and creating a step by step approach on how to achieve those goals. In the design phase, the phase that many students get stuck in, what you can do not to get lost, is to create a system on how you approach designing a building.
This system could be allotted a certain time for brainstorming, then transferring that to paper or the computer and then going back and forth until you’re satisfied with how the building looks and functions.
- Master the tools.
One of the excuses that professors hate to hear the most from students is, “ I don’t know how to achieve that with the software I use.” The software that you use for modeling and planning should not handicap your capabilities as a designer. At the same time, mastery of the software you use will significantly reduce the time it takes to create an output.
Studying and continually using architectural software will eventually lead to you mastering it. As you progress in the course, you’ll already know what outputs your professors will be expecting from you (plans, elevations, sections, and models, to name a few). With this, know how you can utilize the software to get the required outputs with the quality that you want with the least amount of work and stress required.
- Avoid the burnout.
It’s an inside joke among college students, most especially true for architecture students, that you will never be able to get a full night’s rest until you graduate. This is partly true, there will be nights where you can’t sleep just to meet the demands of school, and you should prepare yourself for situations like this.
For aspiring architecture students, my biggest advice is to prepare. It’s not uncommon to have weeks where you’ll only get a combined total of 30 hours of sleep or days where you have to work for 12 hours straight. This may sound frightening, disheartening, or off-putting, but rest assured, eventually, you’ll get used to it, and the work ethic you develop from this course is invaluable when applied.
Graduating should be the top priority for you in college, and there will be times when you’ll have to miss out on the fun to get things done. However, a big part of college is meeting new people, learning new things, going through all kinds of experiences, and making memories you can look back on. A social life is essential to unwind and get away from the daily stress of deadlines and studying.