You have chosen to start one of the most challenging, professionally and culturally relevant design programs in existence. There are triumphs and challenges ahead, and significant demands on your energy, intellect, and attention. I have been teaching at the BAC for 17 years and I have taught (literally) thousands of students and taken 120 students abroad. My passion is for teaching, mentoring, and building community. I have been at the BAC since the 20th century, and in that time I have discovered several habits of the successful BAC student, which I offer here as a kind of "to-do list" as you settle into the BAC. I hope you find it useful.
You will certainly see me around. I tend to be pretty visible on campus. Do not hesitate to connect with me to ask questions or share your difficulties, successes, or your suggestions for a better BAC. Send me an email if you want to set up an appointment. I look forward to meeting you!
Associate Provost and Dean of Students
Boston Architectural College
320 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02115
Richard Griswold’s “To-Do List” for a Successful BAC Semester
Connect with your Academic Advisor: The BAC is a complex and wonderful beast. There are intricate deadlines, processes, and requirements that are unique to us and may take time to figure out. BAC academic advisors are brilliant, compassionate, resourceful people. They will be able to help you optimize your time and plan ahead, and they can answer your questions. They are also a great place to go when something unexpected comes up in your life that might impact your schoolwork.
Meet your colleagues: The most important resources to your professional education are the human beings involved. BAC instructors have an unparalleled range of diverse experiences, but what brings them together on our campus is their desire to enrich the lives of others in the classroom. Get to know their names and their stories. Connecting with your fellow classmates will help you get the assignment sheet you lost, but even in saying a simple friendly "hello," you are beginning to build a powerful network that will learn and grow along with you. It is astounding the number of BAC graduates who begin design firms (or families!) with their classmates after graduation.
Get involved in Student Activities and Leadership: Becky Anderson, Coordinator of Student Activities and Leadership, worked closely with students to create 108 campus activities and 10 lectures last year. There are six great student organizations to connect with, and if you can think of a club or activity that the BAC lacks, Becky can help you figure out how to make things happen.
Get involved with Student Life: Jeff Morris is Coordinator of Student Activites and Student Life Communications. Every Wednesday around noon, he sends you an all-student email which is your must-read guide to BAC news, life, schedules, deadlines, activities, competitions, and all kinds of interesting new ideas. This email contains links to the Student Life Blog (also known as BACBlog), a searchable repository of BAC info meticulously organized at at studentlifeblog.the-bac.edu. Our blog has had well over a half million page views from all over the world. Greg also coordinates our T-pass program and our on-campus lockers. If you want to write for the blog, or if you have ideas for life on campus, track him down.
Manage your time, balance your time: Often the biggest challenge for a beginning BAC student is to figure out how to balance work, school, and life. Learning to use your time wisely might be the most valuable skill for a student, just as it is for a design professional who charges by the hour. This includes making time for sleep, family, friends, and fun, in addition to academics and practice.
Make the BAC campus your intellectual center: The BAC is much more than a collection of rooms in buildings where you go to pay tuition and attend class. Our library is a superior academic resource but also an elegant haven for creative thought and inspiration. A wise student can always find a quiet corner of campus in a studio for a day of work on the weekend. We are always working to extend the hours and the usefulness of campus resources. Make the most of them.
Get to know the names of living designers whose design work you admire: It is important to keep in mind that you are joining a large, diverse, and competitive field of study and practice. You must come to understand who the players are and how they convey their ideas in publication and on the web. Following the careers of those who inspire you is a great way to learn new standards of excellence, and if you consider this to be enjoyable, then design may well be the right career for you!
Please be careful when you are cutting with an ex-acto knife: Especially if you are tired or stressed, remember, safety first. Use a cork-backed metal ruler to cut against, use a sharp blade (which functions better than a dull one), and watch your fingers. Also, it actually doesn't help to press harder on your knife when you are cutting. Remember, cut steady, and stay alert and organized. A trip to the emergency room is bad time management.
Luck favors the prepared. My best to you as you begin your studies at the BAC!