Unit 3 Reflection

I might have said this for my last final project too, but this one was definitely my favorite! Unit 3 for me, was very different from the previous 2 units in the sense that I had much more freedom in what I got to write about. Having less “set” assignments and more intuitive ones helped me focus on what I want to write about rather than what was asked. Over the unit, I go to address many issues, which were previously only thoughts, but now are put down on paper. The “stranger in strange lands” assignment helped me express my views of being an international student both academically as well as socially. The manifesto format was a powerful method of getting my views of fitness in college out. The most quirky assignment was the letter back home; writing a letter by hand, and actually mailing it back home, some 8500 miles away was a very different experience. Here I got to take a very intimate approach, telling my parents how different my experience in college is from what I expected it to be.

Now for the meat of the matter, the final assignment. The reason it appealed to me so much was because of the freedom of format. I got a chance to make a video, and I jumped at the opportunity. For this particular assignment, I got to be the professor, giving out instructions rather than receiving them.

Being an architecture student, I spend most of my waking hours, which are plenty, thinking only about architecture. It’s a major which totally consumes you in  deep thought; so it only made sense to relate architecture to reading.

I decided to divide my thoughts into 10 logical points. The following is the script:

Writing-An Architecture Student’s Guide For Incoming Freshmen

So, your a college freshman just stepping into Syracuse University. Well guess what, you’ll be doing a lot of this soon….well it looks little more like this. Anyway, the point is college courses involve a lot of writing. This can be a really daunting task at first since  expectations are very different from high school writing.

Me, being an architecture student, approaches writing a little differently.

While I may relate many of these points to architecture, its up to you to make the connection with your own courses.

So lets get started. The following 10 points is (might) going to make your life a little easier.

  1. Know whats expected
    • Knowing what’s expected is going to go a long way in helping you. Talk to your professors, read the syllabus, even ask a few seniors for help.
  2. Know your individual assignments, and the matters they revolve around
    • After you have read what the course is about, you need to know what individual assignments within that course demand. What are you being asked to write about? How do these matters relate to your own experiences?
  3. Deadlines
    • Know your deadlines, and prepare well ahead of time. Trust me, you don’t want to push things to the last minute, like I’m doing for this video.
  4. Get Feedback
    • Pick a person that hates you, show them what you have done, your draft. They are sure to give you honest advice. Don’t go asking your mom though, your in college now!
  5. sleep
  6. exercise
  7. eat good food
    • Because if you feel like sh*t, your project is probably going to be sh*it.
  8. Start Revising
    • After a fresh night of sleep, go back to your project, read it again and see how you can improve it based on the feedback you received. Add a few images, cut down on unnecessary parts, check for spelling mistakes, and don’t forget the citations.
  9. Learn from your grades
    • A good grade doesn’t necessarily mean your work is perfect, so keep working hard. Sometimes however it might not go your way and you will get a bad grade. In this case go back to your grading criteria and see what went wrong, and how you can improve the next time.
  10. Don’t Die
    • Needs no explination.

I’d like to address few of these in more detail. However let me throw a throw a caveat out there. Most of this is based on my own experiences.

The first point relates to knowing what’s expected. In architecture, most of our assignments are incredibly subjective- there’s no clear right or wrong. While this may seem like a big advantage, getting a good grade can be tricky. I find this to relate to writing too. Since there’s no “right” way to write a particular paper, knowing what points they want you to get across can be a life-saver. If one knows the objectives of the course, writing material for that course becomes a lot easier, since there is no guess-work involved.

Second, individual assignments. Knowing the overall course requirements can go a long way, but for that perfect A, you need to know specific tasks well.

The next 5 points on deadlines, feedback, sleep, exercise and nutrition are almost too cliché. However, they are definitely necessary and shouldn’t be overlooked. Points like these gave me a chance to include some humor in the video.

The point about revision is something I just started doing in my own work, and I found it helps a lot. Prior to this, If I had a deadline, I would try to pull and all-nighter, and work at an incredibly slow pace. On the other hand, finishing all the major work on the previous day, and saving the quick, revision work closer to the deadline works more productively, since people function better when they aren’t drowsy and worn out.

Last and probably most importantly, grades! Most students get either overjoyed, and let their grades get to their head, or incredibly disappointed and just push the matter to the side. Instead its better to have a calm, level mind and focus on what the grades actually mean. If your grade is good, see why it is so an try to replicate this the next time. If they are bad, instead of getting bogged down, going back to the grading criteria and seeing what went wrong will help improve them the next time.

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