ARCHCareersGuide.com is pleased to share this essay from Melisa Kaiser, teacher for Excelsior Classes.


I was 16 when I knew I wanted to be an architect, but beyond my high school drafting class I had no idea what an architect even did. I had never seen a Guggenheim Museum or heard of Frank Gehry. What was design, and did it have any meaning or purpose?

Thankfully I can now give you the answer to that question: Yes! After nine years of teaching architecture to high school students I see the benefits of the things they learn.

Everyone needs a design education.

To design is to plan, organize, or compose. We all design at some level. Even if we don’t “feel” creative, we still create because we are made in the image of a creator God. Students in high school architecture classes learn critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills as they work out design activities. Using proportion, scale, value, texture, line, shape, and form they evaluate and choose layout and arrangement. They use these skills to observe and analyze, and to think beyond the obvious. This allows them to imagine things that don’t yet exist. Architecture students learn to become aware of and bring beauty to their environments.

One of the most useful skills an architecture student strives to acquire is that of visual communication. How does one take an idea from his or her head and represent it on paper where it can be viewed by or discussed with others? By trial and iteration. This is, at its essence, a basic communication skill. Architects are constantly moving between two-dimensional and three-dimensional thinking and representation but anyone who puts things together – an engineer, a carpenter, a plumber – would benefit from this kind of study. Just ask anyone who has tried to read a map or pack luggage into the trunk of a car!

Our first project in Exploring Architecture

A high school course in architecture will prepare you for college.

Students are sometimes surprised by the rigor necessary to carry out drawing and design exercises. The endeavor in doing hands-on work by itself is time consuming. Design is an iterative process. The student will see the problem, think about how to solve it, and create a solution, then the process starts over again. The effort required to engage in and complete the assignments and projects prepares them for a future in architecture, or any other field they might choose. As they present their own work and view that of others, students learn leadership, teamwork, and sometimes even time management.

According to Keelan Kaiser, FAIA, LEED bd+c, Architecture Program Director at California Baptist University, “Drawing, composition, and creativity are the most valuable skills a college freshman in architecture can have.” He recommends starting in high school with art, design, photography, or architecture classes to be prepared to study architecture in college. But these skills apply to more than just architecture. Composition is the same concept in design, music, or writing. Students can utilize this critical thinking and problem-solving ability to thrive in virtually any field.

Excelsior Classes offers architecture courses for high school students.

Excelsior Classes offers engaging, rigorous courses taught from a Christian worldview, and provides a unique opportunity for a high school student to take architecture classes. Students are introduced to seeing, thinking, and drawing like an architect. In Exploring Architecture, significant works of architecture are examined and discussed. Students learn the basics of design and study architecture from different eras. In Architectural Drawing + Design students learn technical drawing with all the drafting tools necessary. We then incorporate 3D design with a computer modeling program called SketchUp. These online courses will open the world of architecture before students’ eyes and give them the skills they need to succeed.

My son in a high school architecture camp

Studying architecture in high school is a VERY good option because, aside from my opinion that everyone should have a design education, a student can get an idea if architecture is really for her or not. And either way, she will not have wasted her time. Or your money.

Most do become architects, but you will find at least one who is a homeschool mom teaching architecture classes online for high school students. You can find them at the following:



Melisa Kaiser, Teacher, and Guest Blogger

Melisa is a homeschool mom of four and teaches architecture classes to high school students. She received a Master of architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology and has been teaching in some capacity for the last 10 years. Melisa loves the Lord Jesus, and loves seeing the image of the Creator in the work of her students.

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