With the pandemonium of the 12th examinations just fading, students seeking admissions to Architecture gear up for the NATA (National Aptitude Test in Architecture) examination and the subsequent admission procedures. Architectural education promises not just creative exploration but also technical understanding to translate one’s vision into reality. However college syllabus and curriculum are not the only elements that shape one’s college experience.If you are still reading, that means either you successfully have secured your Architecture admission or are very keen on securing one; or are a concerned parent of a would-be Architect (what to expect as a parent to follow soon). Either way, here is a breakdown of what to expect when in your first year of Architecture.

Why only the first year you may ask; well because the first year will be the year to challenge you, shape you and expand your horizons. Till the first year of Architecture, most of us are used to a contrasting study pattern. We have textbooks to guide us, workbooks to allow us to practice and guides and model answer papers to tell us exactly how to attempt the subject of study for the most beneficial (higher marks) outcome. But Architectural education does not fit into any such structure. Design is subjective and sometimes intuitive and hence essentially has no fixed approach. You may have several better or worse ways of looking at the same problem at hand. The first year of Architectural education attempts to equip you to think in multiple, innovative and creative ways. So, for the first year break away from the fear of being WRONG.

Even if you have not achieved what you wanted to accomplish, you will have still learnt on the way. It is about learning from the PROCESS not just to focus on the outcome.

While your friends from other professional courses may have a set time to go to college and come back, you may start feeling that you probably live in your college. This is often due to group assignments, additional research work, site visits, seminars and workshops that are organized to add value to your learning curve. Architectural education has weightage not only for end of semester examinations but more importantly continuous evaluations and assignments. It is essential for the students to attempt these assignments and score well to ensure better grades. So while students in other disciplines can get away with focusing on their end semester, architectural students have to keep up their academic performance consistently.

As a newly admitted student, you look forward to designing. More specifically, as the name Architecture suggests, designing buildings; cozy homes, swanky offices and eclectic cafes. So when the teachers for the first few months talk to you about compositions in music, movies, art, dance, poetry, nature, fashion and more; one cant help but wonder if this is what you signed up for. Some of the work which you worked on through the night may get major improvement suggestions, but something that you put together in half an hour to complete the submission requirements, may win you much desired appreciation and accolades. If you have experienced and felt this; don’t fret. It is absolutely NORMAL.

The first year is to expose you to various aspects of design. It is to push your creative boundaries and transform you into keen observers and eventually, avid thinkers.

Another thing that Architects have in common is their undying love for stationery. So just as you prepared your pencil boxes for the first day at school, you will prepare your stationery kit for the first day of Architectural college. The shiny new set squares and t-squares, the bundles of various grades of pencils, your clean drawing board and endless stacks of paper will all set the stage for your grand debut and fill your home with an avalanche of stationery. As a word of advice, WAIT.

Wait for instructions that your individual institutes may have, before purchasing everything available at the stationery store. Infact some seniors or institute Alumni may have good quality, barely used articles to give away which not only will help you to save some money but will also give you an opportunity to interact and form new friendships.

One more aspect that makes Architectural education fun and unique are the site visits and study tours. So, from going on vacations with your parents and family, you will now visit various cities of Architectural interest with your faculty and classmates. These trips will not only inspire you with the work that you see done by Master architects but also will enhance your architectural observation and appreciation. Along with these tours each institute will offer various opportunities for participation in institute and national level competitions. Grab these opportunities and participate whenever you can. It will inspire you, push your boundaries and will lead to immense personal and academic growth.

Even if you were a topper in school, there were subjects that were just not your forte. Even the field of Architecture has such a wide spread of application, that a subject or two of weakness will not mar your chances of achieving excellence in the field. Just remind yourself of the passion you have for learning architecture and continue to be regular and persistent at your effort.

Architectural education will be a myriad of experiences. So even though some days may not be the best, give it time and take a deep breath. Take a break, reach out to your friends or faculty, ideate or just vent. So, even though you may feel that your social circle outside of Architecture is dieing a slow death, be assured that by spending five years together, through all your academic and personal highs and lows; you are forming bonds with your classmates that are essentially LIFELONG.

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