Architecture school takes a long time, and if you go through in it’s entirety it will take up five years of your life. That can easily extend out if you take some semesters part-time or fail a couple subjects. A common concern when fellow students email me saying that they have failed is that they will need to repeat the studio but with students who are younger than them, by a year… I then usually remind them that they probably have mature-age students in their studio who are 30 years+ and will even let them know that I am a mature-age student.
I don’t think I’ve talked about this on the blog, but yes, I am a mature-age student. I like to think I am not THAT mature-age student but I started my architectural education pursuit at 20/21, then undergrad at 24/25, masters at 27/28 and hopefully will graduate when I’m 30. I have friends who are the same age and are registered architects, I have friends who graduated at 24/25, and I have friends who are older than me. So I thought I’d share some of my experiences as a mature-age student.
For me I’ve always had this sense of urgency in my mind, that I needed to graduate by the time I’m 28, so in two years I can register as an architect and start my own practice at 30. I think the reason for this is I did feel like I was behind in life, especially when you read some of the backstories of other architects who started their practice, and you’re just started architecture school! I guess for someone who is classified as a MATURE-aged student, I wasn’t very mature.
You (and by you, I mean me) tend to compare yourself to your classmates, who are a solid 3-4 years younger. Not only do you compare your age, but the timeline as a whole and you run the numbers through your head and you have silly thoughts like ‘If we went into practice together, we’d both be directors but I’d be that weird older guy‘. However after my little breakdown early last year I like to believe I’ve matured since and these kind of thoughts have settled.
What I have found since the start of 2017 is that I no longer feel like I am in a rush to graduate. Not saying I want to be a student forever but I have two subjects left in my masters degree, and the plan is to knock them out this semester. However if I need to drop one and finish it in semester two, that isn’t such a big deal. That sense of urgency is gone, and I don’t know if that’s a sign of my age or that I have a full-time job so I’m not stressing about moving on to that chapter.
Starting university at 25, what was it like from an ‘university-experience’ standpoint? Did I party? Go on crazy adventures? Forge lifelong friendships with a select few? Did I have the 22 Jump Street experience? The short-answer, not really. Was that because I felt weird partying with 18/19 year olds? A tiny bit, but by the time I started uni at 24/25 I wasn’t really a party-guy. There were a couple times I would grab a drink after reviews but I wasn’t in the mood for campus parties or getting drunk on a Tuesday-afternoon. However if I started architecture school at 18, that would have been a different story…
In saying that, do I wish I started sooner? If I could go back in time and tell myself when I was 16/17 to buckle down, study and pursue architecture, which resulted in me going to university at 18 or 19, would I? I’m going to be honest, there’s a little part of me that wishes I could, so I could have that care-free university experience that some of my friends had. In saying that, if I did do that, I wouldn’t have any of the amazing friendship I have today and I wouldn’t want to throw that away.
Overall, what was it like studying as a mature-age? I mean it doesn’t feel any different, different to what exactly I don’t know but it seems normal. I am only 29 years old, that isn’t even old or mature, and I have never really seen myself as a mature-age student, more so just an older student. If you are a mature-age human who is thinking about pursing architecture but not sure what it will be like, it is what you make of it. You can be the 30 year old partying it up with the 19/20 year olds, you can be the 30 year old who sits in the back quietly taking everything in… You can be whatever you want to be, you can study however you want to study. Your age doesn’t affect this, only your mindset and attitude.