Am I right for architecture school???


I'm a 19 year old student at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. I did my first year in Arts & Social Sciences  (took psychology & sociology classes) and f***ing hated it. I almost flunked out of school, but did a summer program to keep me in for next year. I am still in the Arts faculty, but i'm taking architecture and planning classes next year.

I've always loved architecture, and I am a decent artist, so this summer, I have been developing a portfolio with some architecture student friends of mine, as I plan on applying to arch school.

From reading several forums, I am under the impression that arch school is extremely difficult, and the profession itself is not all it is cracked up to be: long hours, under payed, stress etc...I rarely hear anything positive for arch school/ profession.

I hope that these people are the depressed, unsuccessful people of the profession, and the happy, successful ones are too busy to post their opinions (no offence- everyone is entitled to their opinions)

BUT I am worried that this seeming passion will die while I am in school because of all of the time and stress, and I will end up quitting and wasting more time. from what i've gathered there's 4 years for bachelors, 2 years for masters, and more to get licences- a lot of time to get burnt out and frustrated. 

Any advice, or opinions?


Jul 11, 13 11:03 pm

Wow, I see a little of myself in this.  Are you doing poorly in social sciences because you don't like the major, yet are academically capable nonetheless?

Architecture school is NOT hard, in an academic sense, and all the technology classes are distilled to tabular data and algebraic formulas.  It is tough in an endurance sense.  However, if the major is enjoyable to you, then the longer hours will be more doable than shorter hours in a field you don't like.  The same holds true for working in the field.

The early part of work life does suck, particularly when an intern, for the hours and/or the pay.  I never experienced much overtime, but moved a few times for pay bumps and the separations were less than amicable on 2 occasions.  Only a few all-nighters toward the delivery of documents for permitting were experienced, in line with a promised delivery date so we wouldn't look like flakes.  But, would you want to do tax returns or write legal briefs for ridiculous hours?  Long hours are part and parcel of any profession.  About your comment, I am sure there are all kinds of architects and intern-architects here of all ability levels, so I don't take that as a slight, and most wouldn't either.  Not everyone is a star and not everyone has their own practice, if that's how you define success. 

About the license, you simply record hours while working (CACB for those of you north of the border) and then take a long test which essentially regurgitates what you learned in school, or should have learned in school.  It's no big deal, if you paid attention in school and then review your study materials, but it is all encompassing and is distributed over about 8 very different topical sections, which waxes and wanes.

My recommendation is that you shadow the occupation and also take a career aptitude and assessment test.  Don't high schools give these anymore?  Or, these should be available as a resource to you at Dalhousie.  Good luck / bon chance.

Jul 11, 13 11:39 pm

Yea I did really bad in social sciences because I hated it. I can't pay attention to things I don't care about lol.

Thanks for the confidence booster, and the info!!

I just hope I don't lose the fire inside of me.

Jul 12, 13 11:34 am

Let me be frank... Successful people in architecture whom I've met have a strong work ethic.  They try their best and give it their all in whatever life hands to them.  It might not be what they enjoy or want to do, but they have a sense of responsibility, accountability and aren't ones to give up part way.  Almost flunking out of school raises red flags to me to be honest.  I don't know which school you plan on applying to, but I'm sure the admissions panel in  competitive schools will wonder what happened during your first year of uni and question you on your marks.  Though it might seem pointless, psychology and sociology are darn important subjects to a serious architect.  Architecture school isn't just artsy and fun stuff.  I've had classmates who I thought were geniuses and top students drop out because it wasn't how they imagined. :)  Anyways... good luck.  You can always switch to something else if you don't like it after first year.  Its better to have tried it than not and wonder what if.

Jul 12, 13 8:58 pm


I chimed in because I agree and disagree with what you're saying.  I had a bad time the first 2 years of undergrad because I ended up in my major by default and felt like leaving.  My grades were acceptable, but not indicative of what I could do.  During the last 2 years, I lived in the library to pull up the average, since I was going to finish out that curriculum, and it was more indicative of what I could do.

He's at Dalhousie (previously TUNS - Technical University of Nova Scotia, I believe) and applying to get into the program at the same school, if I'm reading him correctly.  If so, they may have access to his high school record and test scores.  If he can prove himself in the portfolio, he might get in.  If he doesn't like it, he'll need to find a third major, and for which he should be taking a career aptitude test.

Jul 12, 13 9:10 pm

^ I don't doubt his abilities to do well and succeed if he enjoys it.  :)  Just want to point out that whatever you do, you should put in effort and do it to your best of ability or don't do it at all if you're going to do a half ass work at it.  It may not be what you want to do, but it'll build your own character and just might help someday. 

Jul 12, 13 9:51 pm

@access & observant.

thank you for your input, and tips.

I am going to apply to Dals arch program but I also want to apply to schools like Waterloo, Unitec (NZ) and possibly AA. even though I know the chances are not good, it cant hurt to try :D. I did have extenuating circumstances that did get in the way of my performance (untreated metal health problems) but i dont and will not use that as an excuse. I know i have the potential, but do you guys think that if I bring up my marks next term/year, it would help out more? I like to think of it as showing I can bounce back from adversity.

thanks again for the info. really appreciate it :)

Jul 12, 13 11:28 pm
+1 what observant said in his first post exactly my experience.
Jul 13, 13 8:45 am

If you don't get into an undergrad school of Arch, you might want to consider majoring in something else you are interested in, like history, then going for an MA in Architecture.  You can work on your portfolio while in undergrad and sharpen your writing and analytical skills.  These will stand you in good stead if you choose to pursue a career in architecture.  The MA programs concentrate the info into a shorter time period and you exit with a leg-up over those with the undergrad degree.  Yes, more years in school - no way around that, but many treat the MA program like a job, so it's a good place to learn the time management & discipline needed to succeed. 

Jul 15, 13 11:46 am

"Let me be frank... Successful people in architecture whom I've met have a strong work ethic.  They try their best and give it their all in whatever life hands to them.  It might not be what they enjoy or want to do, but they have a sense of responsibility, accountability and aren't ones to give up part way."

This is true - it's more like the SEALS than the Marines - most of my co-worker were here to 2am last night and never leave before 10pm - if you want 8 hours of sleep/night this isn't for you.

Jul 15, 13 12:06 pm

people who half ass get washed out either in school or in practice - the mediocre never make it make past 5 years - there is a 75% washout rate - get with the program or get out - this ain't for the faint of heart 9 - 5ers

Jul 15, 13 12:26 pm

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