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Tips for Going to Architecture School

Written by:
Justin Weinger
Daniel McCullough, Francistogram, Inspireli Awards (Cover image)

Achieving a degree in architecture means a demanding degree course, but a career in the field can be both creatively and financially satisfying. You'll need strong skills in both math and design in order to be successful. Below are a few things to keep in mind as you prepare for a degree and a successful career in architecture.

Choose a School

It can be tough to  decide which schools to apply to or which one to ultimately choose if you are accepted to more than one. There are a few pieces of criteria you should keep in mind. First, you should think about the same things any student would, such as what size of school you want to attend and what kind of location you want to study architecture in. However, there are also some specific things that aspiring architects should look out for.

You will need to look for programs that offer a degree accredited by the National Architectural Accreditation Board if you plan to work in the field after graduation. Keep in mind that these programs are usually five years long instead of four. If you want to teach, an unaccredited pre-professional program that leads into an accredited master's might work for you, but be sure to do your research.

You may be interested in studying architecture as part of a larger interest in urban planning or art history, in which case you might also not need an accredited degree. However, attending an accredited program gives you more flexibility later. The quality of the program and how well-regarded it is should also be a factor.

University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USAimage © Fran 

Figure Out Your Finances

Another factor in where you will go is cost, but don't automatically assume that the most expensive school will cost you the most money. Schools often offer generous scholarship and aid packages. You may be eligible for federal grants and loans. You can also take out a loan from a private lender to  secure the funds you need. You can generally find plenty of information online about various private lenders, how much you might be eligible to borrow and what your repayment plan might look like. Most students use a combination of methods to pay for college.

Prepare a Solid Application

Try to do some research to find out what the schools you are applying to are looking for. In general, it is helpful to demonstrate that you have both  strong creative skills and high problem-solving ability. You should also show an interest in architecture. This might seem obvious, but it is something that applicants often fail to do.

architecture drawing tips image © Daniel McCullough

Coursework and Other Skills

Typical coursework will include work in math, such as physics and geometry, computer skills and design. In order to be successful in both school and in your career, you need to be detail-oriented and willing to work long hours. You also need to be good at working as part of a team and at communication with clients. The latter may require some patience and diplomacy as well. Keep in mind that even after achieving your degree from an accredited school, you will still need training and testing in order to become a full-fledged architect who can work independently. This could include an internship.

By Naser Nader Ibrahim

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