It’s that time of year where the leaves are falling, college campuses are buzzing (mostly online), and students are preparing for their first exams of the year. Whether you’re in the classroom, learning virtually, or a recent graduate preparing for a designation exam, it is imperative to establish habits that allow for success at all stages of the education experience and ultimately a career in the A/E/C industry.
Heading Back to Class – What Now?
As most college campuses shift to online learning in the wake of the global pandemic, many students who are used to being in the classroom are now facing a learning curve with virtual learning. Having the tools necessary for completing daily academic tasks are essential for a successful school year. Tools in your academic arsenal should include:
- Comfortable workspace
- Highlighters and pens
- Reliable computer and internet connection
- Day planner or calendar
- A well-stocked bookmarks bar on your search engine with relevant sources for studying
Effective Communication is Key
FWA employees who are recent college graduates and FWA interns still in school agree that communication is one of the most important components of success in both the academic and professional arenas. Learning to communicate effectively with professors, peers, and colleagues, as well as how to analyze an audience for presentations and group projects helps to build a strong foundation for project management and future project interviews.
The emergence of COVID-19 and subsequent lack of in-person communication opportunities have caused many to adjust their communication styles and very quickly embrace new technology. This is true for not only design professionals collaborating on projects, but also for college professors and students having to improve time management skills with the increased need for self-imposed deadlines. Issues with technology are unavoidable, therefore communicating effectively with those who can help, whether it is fellow students, professors, or colleagues, eases the transition to the virtual world.
What about Test Taking?
Test taking within the A/E/C industry requires practice, focus, and a solid command of the subject matter that will be presented on the exam. Preparing for college exams, Fundamentals of Engineering (FE), Principals of Engineering (PE), Architect Registration Examination (ARE), Fundamentals of Surveying (FS), Principles and Practices of Surveying (PS), and the four-part Landscape Architect Registration Examination (LARE) should not be aimless and without proper guidance and discipline. Learning effective time management, establishing a routine that works for your schedule, and becoming familiar with the study materials are all methods used by current and aspiring FWA professionals.
Routine, Routine, Routine
This may seem like a given, but establishing a realistic routine can facilitate ultimate exam success. FWA professionals recommend planning out a study schedule in advance, allotting for review sessions, and getting into a routine based on the time of day that you tend to work the most effectively. By falling into this schedule, studying will not seem like an extra chore, rather an essential part of the day.
Familiarity with Materials
It’s rare to walk past the desk of an A/E/C professional and not see them working out numbers on a calculator. Becoming familiar with and routinely practicing with the necessary materials that will be used during the exam is imperative. Becoming efficient using the reference manuals on the computer, using shortcuts such as CTRL-F to search, and using solve functions on the calculator to save time with statistics and calculus questions will allow for effective time management during the actual test. When in doubt, YouTube it out! Utilizing online resources and observing how others work out equations can help devise a system that works best for you and your learning style.
Work Hard, Play Hard, Avoid Burnout
Learning to effectively work and study within the confines of COVID-19 can be challenging but implementing the aforementioned tips can help, as can setting and celebrating short-term goals along the way. It is important to work and study hard but equally as important to take breaks along the way that allow for relaxation and time to reflect on the progress that has been made.
“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” – John Quincy Adams
Blog Contributors: Veronika Vall, EIT | FWA Project Engineer; Seth Orsini, EIT | FWA Project Engineer; Scott Forsythe | FWA Project Engineer; Allison Rogers | FWA Architectural Intern