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8 Things I Wish I Knew On My First Year of Architecture School

I’m not one to particularly regret anything as I believe in lessons learned from experience, but if there are things I’d be telling freshmen in architecture school, things I wish I knew, these are those. I think that if someone had oriented me with all these, it would make things easier for “future me” (or future you!)

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These things range from how to study, which to prioritize, what to invest in, efforts to make, connections to build, experiences to start, and inspirations to choose from.

Prerequisites Count for More Than You Know

Wherever you’re studying, there are tons of majors which are divided into years or semesters. For example, in my school, the topics for building technology had 5 courses. Similarly with any general subject with multiple courses (ie. Math), not being able to understand the initial courses, or prerequisites, well means it may be harder for you for the next ones.

I didn’t understand this much in my first year but eventually realized it in my latter years. Obviously, there are those that are unrelated with each other (ie. History of Architecture) but still, there are those that you wouldn’t want to take learning for granted.

Anki for Architecture Courses

I have a more extensive post regarding using Anki for architecture which you may choose to read but this app has definitely helped me loads whilst studying. If I had heard about this in my first year, I probably would have used it instantaneously as our lower years were mostly filled with terms and beginning knowledge on architecture, which will surely help you with application later on in your latter years.

To explain it simply, Anki is a flashcards app that will help you study more efficiently (and probably more quickly) as it uses spaced repetition amongst many other free features!

Invest in Digital Skills Early On

I absolutely agree that manual skills or sketches will always be important and needed but it doesn’t mean we have to hold ourselves back from learning different digital software for architecture. I think that some disagree with this investment because people may be tempted to rely on them solely, forgetting the former completely. But we have to remember that development in technology is inevitable and it’s only a matter of time when we’re forced to learn them in order to keep up.

Related: Architectural Programs I Used for Thesis

I was in my first year in college when I started learning AutoCAD even though the course in our school was scheduled for our third. I started playing around Sketch Up before I entered college. And although these two are the most basic ones in our times now, if I hadn’t learned them beforehand, I probably wouldn’t have been efficient with them by the time I needed to be in my latter years. This also gave me a wider opportunity in focusing and learning other software on my latter years such as ArchiCAD, Twinmotion, Lumion, etc.

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Make Every Plate the Best for a Portfolio

Obviously, not all plates that we make will be the best, especially if we’re pushing through architecture school whilst we are burnt out. However, “future you” will be choosing which projects to show that highlights all the skills you’ve built throughout. It will be easier if you can easily handpick your favourite projects or plates which showcase the skills you want to show.

Also, due to this, you might want to keep your files organized digitally so you won’t have the trouble of looking for them when the time comes for you to make your  architectural portfolio. For tips on how to be more organized in architecture school, you can check out this post.

Connect Well with Professors

There are professors whom I have connected well throughout architecture school and were helpful for both life and architecture experiences. Connecting well with them will help you grow and learn outside the classroom which are all helpful for  your academics, career opportunities, and in general, causes for a more friendlier or pleasing environment.

We’ve been told that the architecture field is a small world, you won’t exactly know who knows who until you meet them. It’s important to connect with people in our profession as this will broaden opportunities for both parties and even with other professions.

Your Grades Count, But Your Understanding Counts for More

I’ve heard a lot of people say your grade is just a number. I don’t necessarily agree as I understand that for scholars, grades are currencies. You can get in places solely with your grades and not money, whilst money can’t always get you to places if you don’t have the grades.

BUT – a big but, is that having good grades does not guarantee learning. You can get the highest grades but still find yourself wondering or confused about certain topics. Don’t get too caught up trying to “achieve” something without actually learning anything – because you can still learn a lot even if you don’t end up getting the highest numbers. You don’t want to end up finishing school thinking I wish I knew or learned more.

You Might Want to See: Best Architecture Books for Architecture Students

You Can Start Apprenticeship Early On

It was in our third year of architecture school where we were required for an on-the-job training. In my experience, I was able to work with someone who was only in his second year. I didn’t know beforehand that you can actually decide to practice whilst still being in your lower years of architecture school.

That person was able to experience for two months, unrequired, things I only experienced a year later. Imagine if you had apprenticed early on on your summer vacation (if you had one, because in our school, we didn’t), how many experiences would you have gathered already?

You Might Want to See: Choosing the Right Architecture Firm For You

Feeling Down? Here are Youtube Channels and Podcasts Which May Help Inspire You Again

I was burnt out for a huge part of architecture school and alongside other exercises I try to practice to get through, these are a few of the people I watched. Eventually, I also discovered some architecture-related podcasts you might want to listen to as well.

Of course, these may not necessarily work as sometimes, if not often, the key I find to help lessen burnout is to actually move away from what I normally do – that is architecture. But if let’s say you’re in your submission week and you currently cannot separate yourself from the field, these might help inspire you.

Youtube Channels

30 x 40 Design Workshop

I love this channel by Ar. Eric Reinholdt. Aside from his aesthetically pleasing videos, he gives us a glimpse of what it’s like in practice, how he handles his architecture business, and different architecture tips as well. He’s also the author of Architect and Entrepreneur: A Field Guide to Building, Branding, and Marketing Your Startup Design Business and Architect and Entrepreneur: A How-to Guide for Innovating Practice: Tactics, Models, and Case Studies in Passive Income.


This channel is something I recently discovered. I think it’s a helpful channel as a supplement to building technology or construction in general as it shows us a step by step on how to build things through a scale model which uses actual construction materials.

Llyan Austria

Ar. Llyan is a Filipino architect who reacts to and gives tips on anything related to architecture. If you’re a Filipino like me, his channel is probably more relatable. He also has other random videos you might enjoy.

Thomas Rowntree and Architalks

If you’re into vloggers, these two are who I’ve watched when I was still in architecture school. Architalks isn’t an updated channel, however, you might still enjoy what she’s posted in the past if you haven’t seen them yet.


If you just want to have something in the background while you do your plates, I recommend listening to Life of an Architect and Architecture, Design, and Photography. These podcasts are something I found recently and also enjoyed.

Are any of these thoughts helpful? If they are, you may also enjoy 5 Tips for Freshmen in Architecture School. Be sure to comment down below if you, yourself, have some things you wish you knew when you were still in architecture school if not already!

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