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So you’re thinking of Cal Poly…and architecture? Who wouldn’t want to attend one of the top universities for architecture? But with great power (great colleges in this case) comes great responsibilities. Studying architecture at Cal Poly is highly rewarding, but can also seem daunting every once in a while. Here are some things high school graduates should know before starting their freshman year as an architecture student at Cal Poly.

1. Be prepared to say goodbye to your old lifestyle.

People who say that college life is similar to your lifestyle back home have certainly not been to the right colleges. The change can be daunting at first, but it will all work out gradually (even if you get 7am classes everyday).

2. Maintaining a good social life can get really hard with projects to do over the weekend.

It can get really sucky sometimes, when you’re carrying your heavy architecture kit from your dorm to the studio and see some people getting ready to go to a party. Most architecture students follow the motto of ‘Work Hard, Play Hard’.

3. Your sleep cycle will change DRAMATICALLY.

Some days you’ll get next to no sleep, and other days you would have a quick nap of 14 hours. It’s all about balance.

4. While most students of other majors can work on assignments anywhere, you will have to walk to-and-fro the architecture building (which is considerably far from the dorms), repeatedly.

Freshman studios can really be uninspirational sometimes, partly because you would be sharing it with 2 other classes, and also because it can get really hot some days.

5. You will become a regular at Subway because it is the only place that remains open 24/7 and is closest to the architecture building (sense a connection?).

Subway might be one of the healthiest food options on campus, which clearly says much about the variety of healthy food options on campus.

6. You’ll be seeing the same people almost every day.

Every day AND NIGHT. You would go on late night coffee runs, cardboard runs, or just runs with these people. Try to be friends with everyone.

7. Cuts and Splinters are not unusual given the high intensity of the projects. 

When you’re working with a thick piece of cardboard at 3 am and the piece just won’t cut, what do you do? You make a bad cut in frustration resulting in a blister on your finger.

8. Your instructors and upperclassmen are beacons of light in the dark void that is making models.

Although all of the instructors are really helpful and clear in their instructions, your fellow classmates are the ones who can help you out the best, since they’re going through the same as you.

9. At the end, it will all be worth it.

Thousands of hours of hard work and no sleep. You could not find a better place to study architecture at than Cal Poly. The learning you will receive here will not only shape you as an architect, but also as a professional.

The architecture program at Cal Poly is one of its kind. You get your first project on Day 1. When most people are going to the Farmer’s Market for the food, you would be going there to take pictures for your project. That’s the kind of life you would have as an architecture student at Cal Poly. But when those pictures come out clear and crisp, it’s an even better feeling than having good food.


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Karan Mehta


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