It’s July. Maybe you don’t even want to think about how to prepare for architecture school yet, but maybe you do because you’re so excited and can’t contain yourself. You’re going to architectural school, baby, and the future of the built environment lies in the 7” — 10” of the palm of your hand.
Even with all the bunking and debunking of stereotypes on the Internet regarding the professional life of the architect, it’s still easy to fall into the idealist, extravagant mindset as you start architecture school. In fact, this article isn’t meant to deny you that. It’s your right and you should soak it up (before you work professionally . . .) because that’s what being a graduate or undergraduate architecture student is all about.
But for those of you looking to enter with a Zen mindset, here are a few tips in how to prepare for architecture school.
Leave Hubris at Home
The Buddha said, “A man is not called wise because he talks and talks again; but if he is peaceful, loving and fearless then he is in truth called wise.”
And in graduate school, there’s a lot of the “talks and talks again” variety. Because it’s very common to go into architecture school (or most arts schools) thinking you have it all figured it out, and that you’re just going to get in there and blow everyone out of the water. But then inevitably the first time that student presents their first piece to design studio, it gets torn to shreds—and by “it” I mean their fragile ego. Instead, I would suggest to simply go in with openness. You’re here to learn, to grow, to practice so you can to discover all of your strengths and weaknesses. You’re here to apply what you’ve been practicing, or have been wanting to try, in a professional setting. The first time you get your work torn apart, don’t pout. Embrace it. Welcome criticism and listen to it. Those are the pains of becoming a working artist.
Throw Away Your Smart Phone
Studies show that people spend on average around five hours a day on their smart phones. Also, in 2014, the average person spent 103 minutes on social media. Not to mention all the energy spent and the headspace of thinking about what people are saying, the jealousies, the trying to make other people jealous—all the fear and loathing. I suggest staying focused on what you’re doing. You don’t have to show people your models, your work (start a website/digital portfolio for that!), your interesting life. It’s only a distraction. Plus, this election season is only going to get nastier. You don’t need to subject yourself to that.
Learn How to Cook
If you’re an American between the ages of 18-24, chances are you have no idea how to cook—I’m not talking about Easy Mac and cereal. And today, with the mental and physical punishment you’re going to inflict on your body during school, you must take care of it. Learn how to do simple things: make yourself salad, make salad dressing out of oil, vinegar, and mustard; steak, fish—proteins, get yourself some proteins, STAT! And if you’re vegetarian (totally understandable—it’s art school), soak yourself some lentils! And don’t say you don’t know how to do it. If you can undergo the complex process of designing a hospital, you can watch a three-minute Youtube video on how to make salad.
Come with a Rhythm in Mind, Then Be Prepared to Change It
Know what schedule works for you and your body. Are you a morning person who is productive from 6AM-8:30 while everybody else is still cursing their alarm, their boss, their family, their life? So, get up early and get to work. Don’t feel like you have to do what everyone else is doing in terms of their workflow—staying up all week until a project is done. Find out what pace and schedule your body and mind needs to stay productive. And remember: research shows that taking consistent breaks throughout the day produces productivity. Don’t think that killing yourself and never sleeping is what you need to do.
Bring Your Tools
Of course you know that you’re gonna CAD your ass off—free-CAD, auto-CAD, Vectorworks—but remember that it all starts with drawing, so make sure you have all your drawing tools: pens, drafting paper, scales, bottle of bourbon—all your different paint brushes, canvases, ukulele, tape, glue, rubber cement, paddles, binders, mats, boards, strings, whistles, glow in the dark stars, tent, plywood, Voodoo doll.
Remember to have fun, and that the process in how to prepare for architecture school is personal for all of us. It’s really a wonderful time full of experimentation and personal growth, and you’ll never get it back. So enjoy it—life is never quite the same again after.
By: David Plick