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No passion. Should I continue studying Architecture or switch?

John_Red

Hello everyone.

I feel bad for writing such a long post considering how architects aren't known to have much free time. But I will try either way and hope for the best.

I am facing a dilemma.

I am currently an architecture student at one of the best universities in my country. When it was time to choose, I still didn't know who I wanted to be, so I went with my parent's advice on going for architecture as it is "a respectable job that earns good money." I didn't have passion or much interest in the major, but my parents claimed that that will appear over time as I am exposed to it; that I am "bound to like something about it eventually." I went with it for the supposed money with the hopes that I'll find passion in it along the way.

I barely finished my freshman year now, and I found the experience traumatic. At the first few months, I was interested in this major and was doing well. However, after a while everything started piling up and my morale started decreasing. Eventually I didn't find joy in what I was doing, and any good ending assignment never felt like it was worth the effort and time. I started violating my sleep cycle in order to keep up, which had its effects on my mentality, making me very depressed all the time. I also started wasting more time on things like video games, probably to momentarily escape the situation.

And so, as the year went by, I didn't find passion in architecture. I did even more research about architecture and found out that it is not as prestigious as many people claim it is (most of these people who claim so are not architects themselves). Their job, lifestyle and the requirement of near total devotion to the career does not appeal to me. I don't mind being totally absorbed into a career - but I imagine you can only do it if you are really into it. It all further discouraged me as I didn't seem to be getting passion for architecture. Meanwhile, I got to see how it's like to have passion for it from my classmates. Most of my them had quite the flowery background stories of wanting to be architects since birth. A lot of them had passion. We all went through the same thing - going sleepless for days, spending days on tedious assignments, worrying about the future, and generally mocking our miserable states. Yet that didn't stop them for being interested in the subject. In each assignment, they would experiment, try something new, go off the limits defined by the assignments. Always researching, keen on finding something new to use in their designs. Me? I did only the minimum - filling the criteria of the assignments. I just couldn't bring up any motivation to do anything extra. Didn't research more than needed because I... didn't really care. I was extremely conservative of my energy, and although such a simple approach to assignments earned some positive attention from my juries, I don't think anything I had made would come close to what others made. I realized that what drives these classmates of mine is passion. It is like a hidden energy source inside of them that allows them to just power through all this. I felt me not having it left me at a huge disadvantage. It also proved problematic in group projects where I felt like I couldn't contribute to my group enough due to not being able to put something new on the table (although it's worth mentioning that they were the best in class). Although we became good friends, I still felt guilt over not being able to contribute as much as they did. It was not like me. I am usually a good team player. Overall, my GPA wasn't anything good but enough to keep the tuition discount (about 2.8/4).

So after the year ended, I tried talking to my parents about switching departments from architecture to english language and literature. It is a department that I may do very well at, based on my scores in its related subjects and opinions from teachers and friends at that department. I also have interest in it, as when I took subjects related to it, I acted like my classmates in architecture did (I researched extra, I experimented, I pondered, I went overtime and overboard. The end result felt very satisfying). I just find it easier, more natural to me, and more interesting than architecture. Problem is - it is not one of those big majors like Medicine, Engineering, Law or Architecture. The related to it jobs are much more varied, and the wages are usually less than those of architecture related. There is more uncertainty, higher risk. Thus my parents were completely against this idea. They don't see it as something that can provide money. To note: you also can't double major or get a minor in my university either, so it is a single choice.

They blamed me not doing well on my laziness, to which I agree as it seems natural that you feel lazy when doing something you don't like to do. They say I didn't give architecture enough effort, that I should try even harder and harder (I don't know how though as I feel powerless in it). They say I didn't give architecture a chance - that everyone has similar problems in their first year, and that everything will get better as I will continue studying it. They say that I would be losing a very big opportunity here as I'm studying a very prestigious profession in a very prestigious university. They also have some architect contacts that can give me a job as soon as I graduate. It might be worth noting that my parents both came from poor-middle class. They might not have had a choice to choose more prestigious careers, but they did end up choosing what they wanted to choose and were good at.

What I want to know is if what they are saying can be true. Can I really eventually like it? Am I not giving it enough chance? How much chance is enough? Should I listen to my parents or my heart?

Another problem is if I continue as an architecture student this year again, I may get a low GPA, which would lower my tuition discount (we won't be able to afford it then), and disqualify me from a department transfer (as it requires a good GPA). My parents say to continue but my heart says to switch. No other department interests me. Nothing is certain, that's for sure. I don't know if I will like english language and literature as a major either, but unlike architecture, I have things to back that assumption up. And while I don't know everything, I do know what I know - that is, I tried architecture and I didn't like it after one year. Things can go bad for both paths regardless, but I would like to think that having yourself responsible for your actions is better than blaming others when it is you who agreed to do things their way, not your way. I'm afraid that I won't find passion in architecture even out of the university, and end up being either jobless or a nobody in a low-pay, high-stress and over-time job. Blaming my parents wouldn't give me back my time in such an outcome. Neither would blaming myself if I were to choose to go my way and reach a bad conclusion. But it feels better knowing that it would at least be my own decision and I understood what I was doing.

The deadline for the department switch is in just 2 days. As I am typing this message, I feel like I have a needle poking inside my brain, and my heart being dragged down by a heavy stone. My energy is being drained on its own, and I can feel my soul leaving the body. I'm afraid that my parents may be right, but also afraid that I might be right.

So should I switch or is one freshman year indeed not enough to know if the major is for me? What is your opinion?

Thank you in advance. I do apologize for the long, long walls of text. I also didn't sleep today as the deadline for switching is in just 2 days and I'm worried, so there might be a lot of grammatical/syntax errors in the text. I also know that this all may sound trivial, naive and childish, but I am desperate for opinions. Just found this website a few hours ago, and I decided it would be a good place to get opinions from architects themselves. My academic adviser didn't provide me with much insight into the matter unfortunately.

 
Jul 2, 17 11:28 am
randomised

Just scanned it diagonally. If you don't like it, just switch because life's too short and it will only get harder. But...do you know what to switch to already? Imagine working 40+ hrs a week at a job you dislike, you'll be here browsing the forums on archinect all of the time and who would want that? But if you can get by in class by doing the bare minimum and still pass, you must have some talent for it though. Maybe you're just more efficient than your peers or don't need to hide behind all of that bullshit. You might be doing fine in an architecture office by focussing on all the other aspects of the job besides designing and fancy concepts, lots of people enjoy that too. I don't know, didn't sleep all that well last night, have a competition to start and finish in a week and my little boy is teething...so there's that. Good luck!

Jul 2, 17 11:57 am
archi_dude

Just research salary for architects and show that to your parents. many people with 10 years experience make 50-60k which is entry level salary for most engineers. Also like your picking up on, you work wayyyyyy more then your peers who go on to make way more then you. And then with that additional salary they buy houses to flip or invest in and actually make cool additions ect. while you live in a box your whole life. Honestly don't do it, if you think it sucks now just wait till you graduate, have to sit around drawing accessible bathrooms all day and make very little money.

Jul 2, 17 12:12 pm
archinine
Agreed with others, if you don't enjoy it now it's only going to get worse. I started out incredibly passionate, known others with a similar story, and became really disenchanted once I realized the crap salaries and how hard it would ever be to hit life milestones like a house, marriage etc due to the financials and general stress of the job over inane details. I've realized the only ones who seem to really excel/be ok with the shit pay and long hours are those who are truly enamored with the smallest details or are so wealthy they can start their own practice/make all decisions right out of school. Some have mentioned you can contribute to the professional on the 'business' side etc but you still have to get through the parts that you seem to not enjoy.

Low GPAs are common in arch for even the best and most passionate -which is problematic if you decide on graduate school in the future. If you're worried about low pay with English lit you sort of answered your own qualm - very diverse and open opportunities there. You don't have to just write or go into something low paid like publishing. You can go into communications, media, PR, consulting, all sorts of high paying roles, especially out of a highly ranked school which presumably has a big alumni network. If you're unsure now about a career (which is totally normal!) get a decent GPA doing something you don't loathe, take those three years to figure it out, and do something more 'lucrative' in grad school. Or work a few years between, get your feet wet with some random internships that interest you. It's toxic that the university system forces teenagers to decide on a set career for life before living hardly any of it. Architecture does not translate to much outside of AEC - though teachers will lie and tell you otherwise out of self preservation. English may sound fluffy but it isn't. It's how you use that degree and what you spend your outside time exploring/pursuing that will help you decide on a profession you actually like.

Note this is what I would tell myself if I could go back in time, your description is in many ways familiar though certainly not identical.
Jul 2, 17 3:03 pm
philler
You are obviously self-aware enough to know it's not a healthy choice for you to continue with architecture. Architecture school is hard on your physical and mental health. It's causing you depression, and without passion for it, continuing is going to make the struggle worse. It's a question of your health.
What you study should excite you. You've observed the passion and obsession of your peers. Don't feel guilty about not having the same passion, but instead take that realization and learn from it, find something else, like English literature, speak with those professors who are there to guide you (and whom you are paying to do so) and find out the paths you can take.
It seems like you want to do a good job in whatever it is you do, but you can't do a good job in something you don't like.
Aaaand architects don't make a lot of money. Architecture is not something you can do unless absolutely love it. Like others have said - it's long hours, and little money. What keeps people in the field, then, is the fact that they MUST do it.
Jul 3, 17 6:41 am
breakit

I was like you when I was a freshman. I'm not in the position of giving any advice, so here's what I did. 

1st year- I wanted to quit - I asked myself 'is one year really enough to decide anything?'

3rd year- I wanted to quit - I asked myself 'is one year really enough to decide anything?' 

5th year - I graduated, quit architecture, got a completely random job. 

2years after graduation - I miss architecture. I'm back. 

Who knows? you might find your dream job after quitting architecture. If you choose to stay, you might still to be asking the same question every year. But what I learned from my experience is that years definitely count. Whatever you decide, I hope it goes well. 

Jul 3, 17 7:42 am
geezertect

Not wanting to be an architect is NOT a character flaw.

Jul 3, 17 9:30 am
archiwutm8

Life is only so long, you're still young without responsibilities. Just what makes you happy and you'll be more successive than doing something you hate.

Jul 3, 17 9:35 am

Definitely do what makes you happy. A classmate of mine did the freshman year of architecture, switched out for a bit and realized he wanted to be an architect, and switched back in. He graduated a year later than the rest of us but at least he knew.

We all have our moments where we question our passion for architecture. I'm one of the weird ones that always wanted to be an architect so I know that no matter how awful I feel about it at any one moment, I know it's just a phase/mood and it will pass.

And sorry, compared to the amount of school and exams we have to go through, the profession doesn't pay too terribly well. I have to combat this on dates all the time. They think I'm paid like a finance bro.

Jul 3, 17 10:37 am
archiwutm8

Just eat cereal, ride a bicycle and wear charity clothing

s=r*(theta)

With respect to that op, have you considered a career in spec writing?

Jul 3, 17 11:23 am

Having passion can be a big drawback in architecture. There is much in the profession to suck the passion out of you.

Jul 3, 17 1:36 pm
JLC-1

Passion is an invention of self help books and snake oil salesmen

You can't be psyched for everything all the time.

Jul 3, 17 2:08 pm
geezertect

Agreed. You have to wonder about the mental health of someone who gets passionate about the building code. If you can achieve a quiet satisfaction from a job done in a professional manner, you're doing good.

Overly passionate people can be a real pain in the ass and a detriment to themselves and those around them.

archiwutm8

I was given a warning by my ex manager because I didn't look happy ever time I worked on autocad. He expected me to be ecstatic ...working on floor plans and reflected ceilings.....

JLC-1

Of course, but we are lucky to be older now, if a preschool kid looks bored or inattentive, he gets stuffed with pills

eronotfound

I am in the same boat as you. I am in my second year of architecture bachelors. And I hate it already. I didn't know much about architecture just like you. The only reason I'm here is because again, just like you, I was offered the subject from the most prestigious university of my country. My parents got excited and they kind of talked me into it saying stuff like how I'll enjoy it. Two years in and I still don't enjoy it. It's taking a toll on my health. I can't sleep timely, can't eat timely. It's always work work work. It's driving me crazy. I am really really depressed. I wanted to be an engineer. When I see my engineering friends doing so well, having time off to do part time jobs, it furthers my sadness. I want to switch to but to an engineering degree. I don't know which engineering degree is going to be the best to transfer to if I want to keep some of the credits from architecture.


My advice to you, switch. It isn't worth struggling.

Apr 6, 18 9:36 pm
geezertect

You're both so young. Don't continue down a road that you know isn't leading where you want to go. Get out now and find something better, and if the architecture credits don't transfer, then consider them a sunk cost and forget about it. Don't pick your next major based on trying to recoup the cost of your previous mistake. You've got a long life ahead, and the two years of architecture you've invested are spit in the ocean.

wynne1architect@gmail.com

switch

Apr 6, 18 9:56 pm
Maryamm

i am in the same situation and your parents sound like mine. But I am in Engineering with zero passion and motivation. I have passion and motivation for Architecture, but my parents wont let me, and I cant have my way because I feel guilty going against their wish.

Sep 23, 18 5:02 am
randomised

That's called adulting, make your own decisions.

geezertect

This is an ADULT decision that you will live with the rest of your life. There is a time when you have to break free from the role of child. Don't feel guilty if your dreams don't coincide with theirs. No matter how much they love you, they have no business trying to impose their dreams on your life. I say this as someone who would be unenthusiastic if my own kid wanted to be an architect. I know too much, and I probably would personally agree with your parents on the merits. But, it's your life and you need to learn some lessons on your own, good and bad.

Non Sequitur

Being an adult is hard. Better ask random strangers on the internet to help me. Kidsthesedays, amiright?

Volunteer

Many (most) schools can take the most fascinating, interesting, and absorbing subjects like engineering and architecture, and make both of them deadly dull and uninteresting. Take some time off to study and visit, if possible, some noteworthy buildings and civil engineering projects in your area. There are collegial firms in both disciplines that treat their employees well. Too often the university experience is just something you have to put up with while you teach yourself the subject.

Sep 23, 18 8:23 am
OneLostArchitect

I want to quit every fucking day!

Sep 24, 18 9:31 pm
OneLostArchitect

Hard to do when you have mouths to feed bro.

OneLostArchitect

I’m a prisoner to my own sentencing.

randomised

Well over a 1000 openings here...come on, nobody will give you another job just like that. It's up to you: https://archinect.com/jobs/list

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