6 Worst Things about Being an Architecture Student

So about a week ago I wrote the post The 6 Best Things about Being an Architecture Student. Well, it’s only fair to be completely honest to all aspiring architects out there and to follow that post with the “6 Worst Things about Being an Architecture Student”. Now, once you read this one, make sure you go read the “6 Best Things”, because I promise the good will outweigh the bad. And going through architecture school is almost like going through a really long initiation ceremony… Once you’ve made it through you’ll be able to swap legendary architecture school stories with any architect you encounter. (Because trust me… we ALL have them).

So here we go… The 6 Worst Things about Being an Architecture Student.

1. Probably most obvious… You get very little to no sleep. Students in other majors may claim to get no sleep… but it’s actually now proven that architecture students get the least amount of sleep out of any major – check out this article on TheTab.com. The article says that on average, architecture students get 5.28 hours of sleep per night – the least amount of any college major. Now, when you are in school you will find this will vary depending on when your deadlines are. It was also depend a lot on your particular studio that semester and your professor. I can definitely look back on my 5 years of architecture school and point out the semesters that I had weekly all-nighters…

If this scares you, just know that not every architecture student goes sleep deprived… A couple of my studio mates managed to get through studios by getting up early in the mornings and they headed home around 10 pm. I would say 90% of us just became night owls and REALLY loved coffee (or Mountain Dew, whatever keeps yours eyes open).

2. Oh, the terrible hygiene and eating habits. I hate to admit this, but there were many a time where I felt like I didn’t have time to go home and shower. So instead I just did a quick re-apply of deodorant and sprayed some fruity perfume and went back to work. In fact, by my third year I began keeping an “overnight” bag in my studio drawer that had a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, and facial wipes. It saved me many a time.

On the eating habits, in most towns your eating options are pretty limited by 3 am with the exception of fast food places. I was soooo sick of fast food by the end of college that I still refuse to eat at multiple fast food joints. But when you are working on studio throughout the night, you are usually hungry again by 2 am and need to make a food run or you resort to cheap junk food. Our favorite 2 am snack (and one that I will still eat) was the honey butter chicken biscuit at Whataburger – YUM.

3. You may miss out on some of the typical college experiences. Looking back on my college years, I don’t feel like I missed out on too much, but there are definitely some experiences I didn’t get to enjoy or participate in as much as other college students. If you are a quick worker or a master of time management, you might not miss out on much. BUT, studio projects take a lot of time and effort. So if you’re not quite so fast or efficient, you might have to skip out on that football game or awesome party everyone’s going to.

4. The insane deadlines. I can’t count how many times we got our project sheet for the semester and we looked at the project deadlines and thought “are they crazy?” Never once did I think “oh, that’s plenty of time!” Nope, never. And what makes studio deadlines even better is that usually all of your other classes manage to schedule a test or a paper deadline right around the same time. It’s lovely. But somehow you will surprise yourself and get it all done (or at least close enough to pass).

5. It can be quite expensive. Unfortunately, your tuition does not cover all of the books, software, and materials you have to purchase as an architecture student. Architecture requires you to use a variety of software programs throughout your 5+ years of school along with having to make many physical models and hand drafting supplies. Drafting and modeling supplies isn’t cheap… Much of this, if not all of it, is a cost in addition to your tuition and it can add up pretty quick.


6. The intimidating critiques/reviews. I think every architecture school I’ve encountered or spoken with all share this same trait – every studio project has a “crit” or “review” at the end of it. When you are in your 1st and 2nd years of schools… this can be the SCARIEST few minutes of your life (some may argue that it stays that way through your 3rd, 4th, and 5th years, too). A “crit” entails you posting your final project presentation board and models up for everyone to see and having a group of 3 -5 people (usually professors, alumni, or other professionals) listen to your presentation and then give you their thoughts. And, as most can probably guess, their thoughts are not always kind… or supportive… or positive in any way. BUT, it’s part of the process. We all go through it and we all survive – and in the end I think it can make you a better person (it might just take a few therapy sessions to get you there… just kidding… kind of…)

Again, PLEASE don’t let any of this discourage you. I just wanted to give you an honest list of what the not so good parts of architecture school are. Go read my list of the 6 Best Things about Being an Architecture Student and I promise the good things make it all worth it. If architecture school was so terrible, you wouldn’t see nearly as many architects in the world today. And I promise, if I can survive it, so can you!


If you are a fan of my blog.. or at least kinda like it.. I would LOVE your help and support by voting for “The Aspiring Architect” in this year’s JDR Blogger Awards! All you have to do is click this LINK and vote for “The Aspiring Architect” under the Architecture category. I’d greatly appreciate it 🙂


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