23 Tips on Being a Great Architecture Student (& Thrive!)

You might already have several of the traits that make for a good architecture student.

However, there is no harm in learning some of the things you can do to make the most of your life as a student architect while creating an unforgettable impression on your professors and peers.

Fortunately, there is nothing inherently complicated about becoming a better architecture student than before, provided you take note of some fundamental tips and filling in those places you feel you might be lacking.

There are many qualities of a good architecture student.

how to be a good architecture student

1. Sharpen Your Creativity

Creativity is an obvious but crucial aspect of how to be a great architecture student.

You are probably already aware of the creativity expected of you, but always strive to discover new outlets for generating new and innovative ideas, anytime and anywhere you can.

Visit and observe the design projects by senior students displayed in the school atrium. There are numerous such displays put up all year round, so do not miss the opportunity to see what others are doing. You would stand to learn a thing or two.

Make a habit of flipping through architectural journals. Architects and designers from around the world come up with great, creative work all the time, and they can be a great source of inspiration to keep developing your creativity.

Creativity is a muscle, keep pushing it hard and force it to grow.

2. Be Ambitious

You need to look ahead and let the image of your future tug you toward it.

If you keep whatever horizon you have envisioned for yourself in the mind’s eye, you will be much more successful in crossing it than if you let it fade away.

The sky is the limit in a creative field such as architecture. Set your ambition and let your hard work respond in tandem.

3. Be Passionate

While architecture is endlessly fascinating, it cannot appeal to everyone – demand is limited after all. Whatever your reasons for being an architecture student, they should appeal to you emotionally.

Like anything, pursuing architecture due to obligatory reasons will lead to a dull existence. Either go on a journey to kindle your passion or reconsider your career choice.

It is never too late.

But seeing that you chose architecture, put your heart and soul into it, and it will reciprocate with enjoyment and fulfillment in equal measures.

4. Be Open-Minded

The nature of any field that is subjective lends itself to disagreements and nonconformity.

You will not like some of the ideas that your peers seem eager to boast about; you might not like a tutor’s critique; but this is to be expected, and it is absolutely fine.

However, always consider the reasoning behind another person’s ideas and try to switch perspectives. You may not change your mind but you learn to accept differences in opinions more calmly.

Design is a never-ending process. Feedback often could provide you with the epiphany for the design tweak to produce the solution you were looking for.

5. Do Not Fear the Uncertain

What will the role of the architect look like in twenty years?

Will architecture still be profitable in ten years?

What will the job market look like when I graduate?

Take the time to tell yourself: “I’m not sure, but that’s alright.” Do not waste your much-needed willpower as an architecture student worrying over the unknowable.

Instead, convert angst into pleasant wonder for the endless possibilities of what is to come and continually work to improve and learn new skills.

6. Frequently Rekindle Your Interest

It is easy to get bogged down by the monotony of assignments and exams and resent the thing you once loved. It is a good idea to separate the issue into two separate parts: architecture and busywork.

Do not let the latter give the former a sour taste. If needed, walk around campus and admire (or silently mock) the various buildings.

Go online, look at images from around the world, take a ride around a nearby city, and remind yourself of the wonderful things architecture can be, and stay motivated in school.

7. Embrace Rejection

It is unlikely you will enjoy rejections, but it is a probability for anybody who puts their creativity out there for others to judge.

The dating kind aside, know that rejection is never personal (it can’t be if they do not know you personally). Rejection is not a mope tool; it is a growth tool, provided you accept it as such.

In fact, when informed analysis follows rejection, it can only help you improve.

8. Enjoy the Process of Improvement

Improvement works in tandem with failure and rejection. The last two things are a queue to fix something, so add that to your arsenal of skill-building weaponry.

While mediocre work might demotivate you initially, these “bad” designs can show up a couple of years later next to your subsequent works, and you may blow your mind with how much better of an architect you have become.

Continual upskilling is one of the only true ways to hit the six-figure salary mark as an architect.

9. Develop Sound Planning Skills

Planning skills are universally beneficial, and architecture is no exception.

Once the semester kicks into high gear, you will get inundated with assignments and deadlines. Treat them as an opportunity to plan and prioritize, so the most important task gets done first as you continually check off the list.

Developing these will let you be more successful in setting career goals and adapting to the future – a skill set that becomes increasingly pertinent.

10. Anticipate the Future

Make sure you understand this going in: architecture is one of the most “subject to change” careers you could have chosen.

As cultures move on, as technology advances, and as tastes and styles ebb and flow as quickly as the tides themselves, you need to be ahead to produce relevant designs consistently.

You want to be well-versed in being that student who is always one step ahead of their peers and constantly blowing minds.

11. Get Comfortable with Technology, but…

Technology moves fast – just like architecture.

In the 21st century, computer-aided drafting and computer-generated visualization have become a career staple for most architects. Therefore, gaining mastery in software and technology, in general, will keep you from lagging behind.

12. Do Not Lose Touch with Freehand Drawing Skills

Anyone can operate computer software given enough time, but not all can visually communicate ideas as skillfully as architects.

The art of freehand sketch separates architects from non-design specialists such as engineers – the ability to instantly transfer thought onto paper via the tip of a pencil.

The importance of freehand sketching skills for architects cannot be overstated. You will do well not to lose it as you gain mastery of design software.

13. Seek Inspiration from Your Peers

There is no reason to be apprehensive about being willing to learn from others. Each head is a different mind with unique ideas, and there is nothing wrong with learning new concepts from your equals.

Work in the studio more than in isolation, if that is not too much of an inconvenience. Seek the company of those with the same motivation and drive to excel.

Know, too, that it is reciprocal and that others are liable to be inspired by you, granting irreplaceable pride.

14. Seek Inspiration from Your Surroundings

What kind of buildings adorns your campus? If you attend a renowned architecture school, it makes sense that thorough contemplation and effort went into designing the buildings.

While this may not always be applicable, many students may find a desire to reach out to alumni who could have been involved in design projects.

15. Strive to Inspire Others

The greatest pride in being an architect is inspiring others to follow in your footsteps.

It is not too early to wow your peers and professors with your creativity through your projects.

You may not feel you have the gift of motivating others, but by striving to get your ideas out there, you might be surprised by the motivational powers of your work.

16. Understand Your Purpose

Understanding your purpose may not help with your grades, but it will help keep you driven to keep at it. Ask yourself what yourspecific reasons are for wanting to pursue architecture.

It may seem redundant, but it will help you push through the monotony of schoolwork and the stress from unending deadlines in pursuit of something bigger beyond.

17. Stay Ahead Academically

Sure, C’s get degrees, but A’s amaze and B’s are brilliant.

Do not let anyone, for a second, think you are not dedicated to putting everything you have out on the table to becoming the best architect you can be.

Work on building discipline if you need to so you can knock out assignments with fervor and maintain an edge over your peers.

18. Express Creativity Outside of Architecture

Take classes that provide outlets or join clubs that let you express yourself in new ways.

Creativity is the keystone of architecture. So, anything from music to writing fiction will ensure that that valuable attribute is pushed past its limits, making you a better architecture student even through the pursuit of unrelated but equally creative subjects.

19. Be Confident in Promoting Yourself

Again, this is one of those things that you can apply to nearly any field, but it just happens to be particularly crucial for the architecture student.

Sadly, your designs, your ambition, your creativity, and all of your other positive attributes are not enough to drive you ahead of the competition.

As a student, you will be surrounded by brilliant peers, some you may view as more competent than you – do not push yourself down! The second you believe you are inferior is the second the self-fulfilling prophecy begins to unfold.

Likewise, the second you believe you are good enough is the second you begin to convince others of the same thing.

20. Good Presentation Skills Aren’t Inborn

Presentation skills are your opportunity to show what you are capable of, but unfortunately, they are the bane of many students of all majors.

An architectural presentation can ruin an otherwise great design either by boring the audience to tears or demonstrating incompetency, whether or not there is any.

Be bold – believe in your ideas and back them up with solid arguments and effective illustrations; quality matters more than quantity. Stand up for your brainchild. Nobody else would.

Equally – observe and learn what others are doing right. Analyze the weaker presentations and remind yourself of how they could be better. Apply them in your next presentation and always seek to improve on the one before.

Remember – practice until you drop, take deep breaths, and practice impromptu responses to nail the Q&A.

See these tips on architecture presentations to nail your next design crit.

21. Learn the Art of Professionalism

Even though you might be in college, it is best to stop acting like that sooner or later.

Go ahead and behave – at least around those who judge your performance – as if you are employed at an architecture firm and crushing your work.

Consider investing in a decent suit for special occasions, such as a final graduate presentation.

22. Build Good Connections

Being an architecture student likely means you are in the presence of hundreds of others (if you attend a medium to large university) with whom you may establish lifelong connections.

Social skills may not be your forte, but always keep an eye out for other successful students through classes or organizations, and you may establish yourself within a group that pushes one another to success.

When student architects graduate and step into the working world in different directions, you never know when or where your next career opportunity might come from.

23. Keep Your Eyes Open

Just look around. Always absorb what is around you. Never stop taking in information. The development of a young architect is not merely confined within the campus setting.

A great architect is always seeking inspiration and ideas. The best way to get as much as you can is always to be mindful of developments around you, academically and professionally.

Try to be involved in activities beyond completing assignments and meeting deadlines. The more stimuli you take in on a daily basis, the more resources your brain has to work with on your next project.