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Advice about degree choice from confused parent

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    Any advice will be gratefully received from current applicants/students and any graduates/long in the tooth people.
    My lower sixth former (studying Art, Geog, Hist, Theology) is unsure which route to take (my advice has been just work really hard to get good grades to begin with) loves Art/Design, really fancies Architecture or "designing things" but thinks he should choose a safer career in commercial property surveying. I have absolutely no experience in Art fields/Architecture to help him.
    He questions if he is good enough for Architecture (Gcse's 6 A's 1 B, 1 B, 1 C all traditional subjects) Can be disorganised/laid back doesn't like too much stress.
    I feel he should follow his dreams (he thinks it will be difficult to get a career in Architecture/Art)
    Heard so much different info about Architecture and some of it not positive - is this right?
    Thankyou
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    I have absolutely no experience in Art fields/Architecture to help him.
    He questions if he is good enough for Architecture (Gcse's 6 A's 1 B, 1 B, 1 C all traditional subjects) Can be disorganised/laid back doesn't like too much stress.
    I feel he should follow his dreams (he thinks it will be difficult to get a career in Architecture/Art)
    Heard so much different info about Architecture and some of it not positive - is this right?
    Thankyou[/QUOTE]

    I know someone who went on a degree course for property development. It might be a way to learn business techniques but also use a flair for design. Even in the current downturn, if you get the right properties in the right areas there is still money to be made whereas architecture can be much more subject to economic change.
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    I know someone who went on a degree course for property development. It might be a way to learn business techniques but also use a flair for design. Even in the current downturn, if you get the right properties in the right areas there is still money to be made whereas architecture can be much more subject to economic change.
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    Commercial surveying will bore him stupid if he likes designing things. Monumentally dull.

    However, if he doesn't like stress then he won't like architecture. Architecture is the definition of stress, both during study and in the real world doing the job. He should probably look more into product design rather than architecture - creativity, but without so much stress.
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    (Original post by studentmum)
    Heard so much different info about Architecture and some of it not positive - is this right?
    Yes, its right, often regardless of how well you do on an architecture course or in an architecture practice the only reward many get is a p45, particularly in a recession moreso than many other industry sectors. Product design can be good but I think the grades can be particulalry high to get in with many courses, straight A grade A'levels but you can clean up if you come up with the right ideas though this does not necesarily happen often. There are some uni's around the country that take lower grades for architecture but do your research carefully. In London for example you have London Met, South Bank which tend to be quite well regarded without being to high on the grade front. Disorganised and laid back and not liking stress aren't great traits for architecture but there are probably a fair few people that have still made it if they have some design skills. Some people have the habit of just sailing through but to be honest architecture normally appeals to those that don't mind spending quite a lot of their spare time on CAD (so the geeky computer types often do well) or hand drawing and you are likely to cop it rather harshly if you turn up with nothing much to show at design tutorials. If he has a real desire for design it might be counterproductive to go into some other area non design based over a few hang ups, sometimes you have to give it go rather than look back wishing as sometimes it can be difficult to tell who may make it in architecture.
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    (Original post by jrhartley)
    Architecture is the definition of stress
    lol, let's not be ridiculous. Architecture is not stress. Living in poverty and not knowing how you are going to feed your kids is stress. Arch students are busy, but if you can't handle being busy, you can't handle any profession.

    OP i'm not long in the tooth or anything but, is your son any good at art? Does he design/draw as a hobby? Does he know anything of what architecture actually involves in the real world (oh look it's another red brick and cream render social housing project, amazing - a cuboid of student flats (and that's for the lucky ones!)) and does he know anything about the ongoing dilution of architect's responsibilities?

    It strikes me that while he is no doubt good enough to be an architect, he is leaning towards the wiser choice in securing a realistic career early. From there he has a solid base on which to build and if being in architect is still his dream in ten years then he is a much better position to persue it, and if it's not still his dream, it never was.
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    "Can be disorganised/laid back doesn't like too much stress."

    Just from that comment, I don't think he will like architecture although saying that, if he picks a university suited for him, he might just cope with the architecture workload in education.
    By second year at my university I was already taught how to master plan big sites at my university, were talking 90 meters by 110 meters in size. Although I know in other universities their building projects is rather 'small' in comparison.

    If he hasn't done his a levels yet, he might solve his disorganisation by the time he reaches university. Its not a key skill to have, as those with poor organisation skills can still do well!

    My best bet is to get him to do work experience in surveying and in architecture to see if he likes it. I did experience in both in my gap year and realised I didn't fit the type of personality for commercial surveying since I'm very creative.

    The best route into surveying is doing the trainee scheme, if you're son doesn't want to go to university full time but wants to do a day release instead and work full time with a salary (university once a week) he can do the trainee schemes, some start at 16, or 18.
    CSTT do a good one and all the firms are highly ranked in the industry internationally and probably the best way to get through the door.
    http://www.cstt.org.uk/

    Also if he is good at designing, the other options are;
    Landscape architecture (those who like creating out door spaces, urban design and biodiversity)
    product design/ design engineering
    mechanical engineering
    Civil engineering (design bridges, structures, geotechnics etc)

    As for the career prospects, there's more competition than there was a 6 years ago when there was a property boom and there was a lack of British qualified architects, at one point the firm had a lot of European and German architects coming in.
    I have friends who did well on the course but still can't get a year out placements, whilst others have been lucky. They are the ones who got them through the door at the practice by knowing someone with links. Unfortunately its who you know in the industry, saying that doing the degree doesn't mean you can't go into other jobs, so if it doesn't work out. The architecture degree itself is still useful and you can go into other things.
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    (Original post by ruperts)
    lol, let's not be ridiculous. Architecture is not stress. Living in poverty and not knowing how you are going to feed your kids is stress. Arch students are busy, but if you can't handle being busy, you can't handle any profession.
    I am not talking about the student side of things, I am talking about the work, and unless you are an architect, I fail to understand how you can even know? Having the responsibility for designing and detailing a building with an absurd deadline and earning £25K means its quite hard to provide for a family. Meanwhile, given you will take about 6+ years of studying earning nothing whilst studying and paying fees and living costs, in all likelihood you will be living in poverty as a part 2 to boot. So I think it pretty much fulfils your criteria anyway.

    I do get slightly annoyed with people who chime in without ever having been there. I'm 39 btw, have done lots of jobs (including some which are supposedly very 'stressful' - corporate finance) - and let me tell you - architecture is often hugely stressful. The product of something that is incredibly complex and involves long hours or work but is hugely undervalued in terms of fees. People only notice when things go wrong - they assume its all very simple - but that is only because the architect is killing themselves making sure things don't go horribly wrong. Its up there with medicine / nursing in terms of stress I would say, having spent a bit of time with people from the medical profession.
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    Many thanks - much of what has been said here is what I have heard too (even heard that Architects are phasing out though what that means I don't know!)
    Will prob attempt to get a couple of days work experience to make or break the situation. Will post on product design too. Very difficult as absolutely no experience of these degrees/careers.

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Updated: February 27, 2012
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