The College Critique: Who's to Blame?

I’ve been in college for a little over three years now, and I’m happy to say I have actually learned a thing or two. I spent a bit of time in the College of Architecture, and am currently finishing up my double major in the College of Fine and Performing Arts (graphic design) and the College of Journalism (advertising). Throughout these experiences, I probably have lay witness to over a hundred critiques of both my own work and the work of my colleagues. That being said, there are noticeable differences in the critiques of architectural work and those of the other two colleges previously mentioned.  

I’ll be straightforward, architecture kicks your ass. You are completely immersed in your work. It absorbs almost all of your free time, and is on your mind day and night...because deadlines truly don’t allow for much sleep. That is the beauty of it. The pride in your work and the process of developing it is often the only thing that keeps you going when your eyes are blood shot and your hands are shaking from exhaustion. And the critiques...oh the critiques. I’ve seen insults made about dedication, tears, people quitting on the spot and work being torn up, and I was only in it for a short year and a half. It was emotional and what you took from a critique was often what made you succeed or not. To roll up in a ball and wish it never happened was simply not an option if you wanted to make it somewhere. It changes you as a student, I believe for the better, and makes you realize exactly what it’s going to take to be successful. That’s what makes architecture so unique.

Critiques in other colleges on the other hand, leave a lot to be desired. They are often too short, not taken serious and do not challenge the way a student thinks about a problem. Instead of picking out a variety of excuses that may be into this lack of discipline, I’d rather students take it upon themselves to change the way work is reviewed in other colleges. Sure architecture can be a bit extreme at times, but if it weren’t the college would be run in an entirely different fashion. Critiques need to take time, sometimes more than expected, in order for a student to fully realize what he/she needs to accomplish. It should be an extensive process, not just one final presentation. Work should be evaluated throughout the process in order for full potential to be reached. Feelings should not be taken into consideration, as harsh as that sounds. College is meant to prepare you for the real world, not treat everyone fairly in hopes of avoiding controversy. There should be a sense of passion and camaraderie between peers, while competition and rivalry linger in the background. All of these things make for an intense, learning environment that not only creates friendship and bondage, but a room full of the leader’s of tomorrow. Without this guidance and encouragement from professors, we don’t stand a chance as students. Yet without the drive and fire from the students…there isn’t much hope to begin with.

With that I encourage you all. Demand more, and only accept the best. Don’t sit back and take the easy way out, challenge yourself instead. Challenge your professors, sometimes that’s all it takes. I’ve seen first hand that if you show interest and passion in a subject, you will be rewarded in more ways than one.


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