ARE, take 2

ImageIt’s September, and while I am no longer a formal student with the promise of a fresh start packaged in the form of a new school year, my internal clock seems to still recognize this time of year as an opportunity for change, resolution, and perhaps an excuse to buy new shoes.

In the event you haven’t been a loyal reader of this blog, I would like to direct you to my first post for this blog, “Picasso, Me, and the ARE.”  This post was about preparing for the ARE by organizing my home office/studio as a place for quiet and commitment to long hours of whittling away at the study materials I had amassed from our office storage closet.

And then, as all Americans seem to be doing these days, I got “busy.”

I became the News Editor of the Young Architect’s Forum “Connection” magazine, engaged in a firm-wide research project, and decided I would also say “yes” to a lot of different, rewarding activities that seemed to be popping up professionally.  Subsequently, I moved my desk to the corner of my “office” and added a bed, making it more of a “guestroom” and less of a place to hole up and study.

But enough with the excuses; we are all busy.  The moral of the story is, I lost sight of my commitment to taking and finishing the ARE within a year’s time.

This September, I’m recommitting to the exam, and setting a path to complete this looming aspect of my professional development and career.  I have registered for my first exam, logged all of my IDP hours, and am ready to hit the ground running.  I plan on attending the AIA Colorado’s study sessions on Saturday mornings (more info here) and have unearthed my old school laptop to start practicing with the standard examination “design” software.

For those of you who find him/herself in a similar place, while I can’t yet share my experiences about actually taking the exam, I can share that sense of relief I felt in actually scheduling my first exam.  When you spend 4 years in college and 3.5 years in graduate school committed to becoming an architect, it’s hard to not have the instant gratification of “AIA” at the end of your name post-graduation.  Certainly the collective thousands of hours spent modeling, planning, conceptualizing, designing, and presenting should equate with a title along with a certification.  But like most things in life, things worth obtaining take time, energy, and hard work.  This licensure process is no exception.

While I understand arguments for and against licensure for architects (“Why wouldn’t you take the exam- it validates you as an architect who can have one’s own firm and stamp one’s own drawings.”  VS “Why take 7 tests if you can still practice and have someone else stamp your drawings?) I feel like I am at a stage where I would like to have as many options as possible regarding my practice and professional career and part of that journey is becoming certified and learning all the nitty-gritty rules, codes, structural formulas, and nuances that might reinforce my professional knowledge and expertise as an “architect” (with a capital “A”.)

So here I go.  I am unearthing my text books, highlighters, and taking note of potential coffee shop study locations with a surplus of outlets and good soundtracks.  I will keep you updated, and welcome any dialogue and conversation regarding study tips or experiences.

While I’m not returning to school this fall, I’m returning to something familiar; commencing on yet another year of deadlines, exams, and coffee consumption.   My only hope is that when May rolls around, I will be graduating from Associate AIA to AIA…

5 thoughts on “ARE, take 2

  1. I made the 7 tests my commitment for New Year’s resolution – I’ve got nos. 4 and 5 in the next two and half weeks… While I can’t offer up too many study tips since we all do it differently, the only thing that I can say is keep your head down and focus. Create and maintain a reasonable study schedule that occasionally allows you to break away from studying to enjoy life – we all need balance. I keep telling other young architects (little ‘a’) that it isn’t all that bad, you just have to stay committed and have your eye on the prize. Good luck!

  2. Thanks for posting this.
    I’m in a similar boat, with “awesome new job w/ challenges”, “newly-wed” & “immigration status” finally under control. I have thousands of reasons for not having started testing – but none of them really matter. My biggest fear is failing several exams in a row & losing momentum (and interest), but that’s not so unmanageable. The reward I’m looking forward to is the title “licensed Architect”, and the smile on my Mom’s face 🙂
    I’ll be following your journey! Best of luck 🙂

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