I've just received the grades for my final hand-in for my Professional Diploma in Architecture Part II exams and although I am incredibly pleased with my work and think the results accurately represent my work, they weren't exactly the highest marks and I'd like to look at this in more detail. It's not what my marks are that I'm questioning but how I got them, and whether this is a realistic goal for architecture students.
My course is slightly unusual, eighteen months straight with three weeks at home and one week residential on site each month, for lectures, tutorials and feedback. The last seven months are entirely focused on our final major project. Of this seven months, six residential weeks were on site, getting tutorials, feedback and working on the project.
I spent the first month every weekend volunteering at my clients premises, consulting with the users and gathering information about the site and local area. I managed to hold down a job in an architectural practice for three days a week the entire seven months, until the final month which was over Christmas anyway. I limited my time spent with friends and family, using each spare day I had to work on the project. I allowed time for making meals, doing some yoga, walking to and from work and generally balancing a healthy work-live-study lifestyle. I didn't have to time for other projects, to read books, to visit friends or have any hobbies. I, like many of my peers promised ourselves we weren't going to run ourselves into the ground just to pass the course. I think we can all agree that we put in hard work, determination and a lot of man hours and are all proud of our final projects.
The only problem is, that most of us would probably admit there wasn't enough time to get all the information there, to submit our detailed technical reports, or to include all the renders we meant to, or to produce a physical model. There will be something each student left out of their final presentation and those that managed to do it all and receive high marks will have worked like a dog to achieve that. And herein lies my point...
I asked myself what would it have taken to achieve all that I wanted to achieve in the time frame - did I not work hard enough? Was I too blasé? Should I have spent longer nights with less sleep, should I have committed to less paid work, should I have pushed myself to my absolute limits?
No, I don't bloody think I should have to.
And I didn't. Which is why I am happy with my results. But it makes me wonder. Our grades are comparable to the rest of the architecture students doing Part II and as mine weren't particularly high, what is expected of us to achieve a high grade?
In the real world, you have other jobs, time to spend with clients, extra projects, family and friends, hobbies, healthy eating. To spend that much time devoted to one project, sweat, blood and tears, the stress, the unbalanced lifestyle is unhealthy, and most importantly unrealistic.