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Architecture School Survival Tips

Updated on May 21, 2012

Architecture school is hard. It may not be as technically challenging as some science degrees, but it does require a lot of discipline and commitment. There is a lot of stress from big projects and hard deadlines. Sleepless nights are common. Architecture curriculum is set up differently from other majors so it requires a different skill set. Below are some tips for making it out of architecture studio with a degree and your sanity.

Time Management

Time management is the single most important skill to survive architecture studio. There will never be enough time to finish your architecture projects. Architects are perfectionists and want every detail to be perfect. This means they will always find more to do regardless of how much they've already completed. Learn to focus only on important aspects of projects. Don't waste your time on details that won't show to your professor and jurors. Acknowledge that your projects will never be perfect and you can only do your best.

Drafting on a Light Table
Drafting on a Light Table | Source


You'll need to follow the first tip to follow this one: get enough sleep. You'll be a lot more productive after a good nights rest. Its tempting to power through without sleep, but it will cost you later. Without sleep you're more likely to make mistakes that will eat up precious time. It will take you longer to make decisions and get things done. If you're model building late at night, you're also putting yourself at risk of seriously hurting yourself.


Watch your caffeine intake. Caffeine is a necessary tool in an architect's arsenal, but be careful not to get dependent on it. You can also get your system really messed up if you drink too much in one sitting, especially if your sleep cycle's already off-kilter.

Eat Well

Eating habits also tend to get screwed up when you're fighting a deadline and stressed out. Get a friend bring you meals. Get a stash of healthy snacks and PB&J fixings and keep it at your studio desk. Find a mini-fridge and microwave and load up on microwavable dinners. Plus be sure you're drinking something more hydrating than coffee.


Architecture requires huge files on very heavy programs. Buy as fast a computer as you can afford.This will save you a lot of time and trouble. If you can get your hands on a second computer, you can set one up to render while you work on something else. This is especially helpful right before big presentations.

Backup Your Files

This seems really obvious, but a lot of people screw this up. Write it into your calendar if need be. Get an automatic online backup if you don't want to bother doing it yourself regularly. Computers are pushed to their limits, and they frequently crash. Protect yourself from a disaster!

Large Format Printers

You'll probably print more 11x17s than any other paper size. Get a large-format printer. It will be a lot easier if you don't have to go to the computer lab or print shop each time. These printers can be a little expensive, but they do go on sale frequently. If you've got a considerable chunk of cash, consider getting a plotter too.


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