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We're already into April when most people have heard from a-schools, are attending open houses, and committing to where they'll go to school. I'd like to extend congratulations to those embarking on their M.Arch. with unrelated degrees. I remember that journey well. A few things:
1. You are navigating the road less traveled into the field and you already display a high degree of conviction and ambition to have gotten to this point. If you've been selected, the admissions committee, who has experience in these matters, has determined you have the capacity to be an architect and that you will fit into their program. I think the average class size in these pathways is about 20, with some larger and some smaller.
2. Pay attention to design, and classes that are especially linked to it, such as theory and programming. It's your only opportunity to be formally trained in design. The other thing is that, under this format, you will generally have 6 to 7 studios, which is less than what other academic paths to architecture normally feature, and they are completed in a shorter time period.
3. First impressions are generally the best ... with respect to design. If, early on, you develop a design concept that works for you, and the professor, it's probably the right one. Sure, you might "fine tune" it, but don't go down another road with your design altogether far into the academic term. I've only done this one term, and it was for the better. However, it's usually better to stay the course.
4. Budget your time, and also pay attention to, and do well, in your other courses such as environmental technology, construction and structures. It's architecture school, not art school. Mastering the breadth of the curriculum will make you a better architect.
5. You are responsible for your own education. That's kind of trite. However, road map what you want your education to be, take the electives and courses which interest you, and don't be afraid to ask questions.
6. Lose the battle, and win the war ... sometimes design professors, especially in this field, can be egotistical and intellectually elitist and, if some minor concessions need to be made, then make them. The best thing to do is develop a support system of professors who like you and your personal style, recognize your talent, and who resonate with you. Along the same lines, stay cool when in a review scenario and stand your ground in a dignified manner.
7. Find like minded people early on. It will likely happen, anyway. Sure, you will have people there who you aren't likely to go have a drink with, but learn to tolerate them nonetheless.
8. Insist on dialogue. Other people are your resources, and that includes your studio mates. Similarly, you are a resource to others. Put your sensitivity aside, and allow others to help make you a better designer. Help others if they ask for help.
9. Work on developing professional rapport with the community of practitioners early on. Identify practitioners, practices, and locations which resonate with you. Attend functions where you get to know these people. If in a non-urban setting, this will take more time and effort, unless the school is very highly reputed and the alumni network is strong.
10. Have fun. It's supposed to be fun. It's a vehicle for expressing yourself and, while again being trite, architecture tends to be more of a calling than other lines of work. Compete with yourself more so than with others. It may be a 24/7 event, but it need not be dour.
I can say that I had a really interesting experience in the "stretch version" of the M.Arch. and received an excellent education. In the end, you are admitted and go to the school you are supposed to be in. The only thing that was somewhat of a minor heartbreak was that we had a class size of about 20 who exhibited some unnecessary competition and jealousy. With everyone interested in different things and even in very different locations, no one would be intersecting in their "quest." (The adviser told me that such an event was an infrequent anomaly which reared its head every handful of years or so). What you should take away from the experience is an education that works for you ... and funny stories and good memories.
Best of luck and congratulations!
Thank you. I appreciate your advice.
Nice piece of advice back there- really appreciate it !