A common misconception among many new college freshmen is the idea that academics will completely consume their schedule. This is especially true among freshmen architecture and engineering majors (I would know, I’ve been there). I am here to explain the falsity of that concept.
Let me start with a disclaimer though: architecture and engineering (any discipline) are two high time-consuming and demanding majors. For architecture, studio will assign projects that require a generous amount of time outside of class hours and for engineering, assignments will require focus and hard work. I do not want to overwhelm or discourage any of the prospective architecture or engineering students, but I also do not want to mislead; I wanted to make sure I set up the full situation.
Now, back to my original point… I want to explain, and prove, it is possible to be an architecture student or an engineering student and still be involved around campus (in the corps of cadets or in extracurricular activities). You’re probably asking yourself how I will explain this to you, aren’t you? Well, I am going to share a couple stories, or well, I am going to, in a way, introduce you to a couple of my friends here at Norwich who are either an engineering student or an architecture student and are active members of the corps or sports teams, are leaders in clubs, and are, above all, top students academically and beyond.
First, a friend since freshmen year, an architecture major with an art minor, on top of being a member of the corps of cadets and the swim team. In our freshmen studio, first semester, our final project was a group project. To be honest, I hardly talked to her before that point, but since we were assigned to the same team that fateful day, she has been one of my best friends here. She was one of, I believe, 7 corps students in our studio of about 50 (one of two females, if I remember correctly). Being an architecture major is tough and even tougher, I would imagine, if you are in the corps: finishing projects late at night, after chow, and then getting up early the next morning for PT. Sleep is a rarity. Despite how tough it is, though, it is most definitely possible. On top of that, after freshmen year, she decided to apply for higher ranks in the corps, and join the swim team.
Second, another friend since freshmen year, she was my neighbor, well two dorm rooms down, but we saw each other quite often. Originally an environmental science major, she switched her major sophomore year to civil and environmental engineering (about the same time I decided to declare civil engineering as my second major). Since freshmen year, she has been a member of the basketball team, softball team, and volleyball team. She has been an active volunteer with ASCE (our student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers) and last year was inducted into the engineering honor societies, Tau Beta Pi and Chi Epsilon for her academic excellence. Senior year, on top of the demanding academic course load, she is serving as Vice-president of ASCE while playing volleyball.
While that’s only two friends, I am hoping that between their stories, and my own, you prospective students reading this can understand that it is possible to excel as a student and be involved in the things you truly enjoy. As one of my friends explained to the new engineering students during orientation week just about a month ago, it is good to have an outlet from academics, especially as an engineering student (and, I’d like to add, an architecture student). He is a member of the corps, an electrical and computer engineering student, and participates in extracurricular clubs. The way he described it: the corps acts as an outlet for academics, while academics and clubs acts as an outlet for the corps. Being involved is a way to stay sane, to prevent becoming overwhelmed.
However, I am not saying that it is not okay if you would like to focus solely on academics. I just want to disprove any theories that engineers and architects cannot have a social life, cannot be involved on campus, and cannot excel beyond the classroom.
“do what makes you happy and be done with all the rest.” - unknown