Monday, April 27, 2009

Procrastination is your enemy

I heard an intern in my office complaining about the ARE 4.0 last week.  She's been taking her tests for three or four years now, and she was complaining to a younger intern about how she had to find a testing facility in our state to take the old ARE Building Technology test before July 1st before the old version goes defunct, otherwise she's going to have to take five sections of ARE 4.0 in order to make up that one test.  The younger intern bemoaned this fact and commented that there ought to be some kind of exception for her.  The fact is that NCARB started warning us about ARE 4.0 in the fall of 2006 (my husband recalls hearing about it when he started at a new firm then).  Testing facilities have been offering both versions of the test for well over a year now.  Interns in the process of taking the old ARE have had plenty of warning and exceptions.  If you procrastinate and/or let your job get in the way of your career, you only have yourself to blame.

Allow me to explain.  After observing younger interns as well as my still-unlicensed contemporaries with regards to this issue, the primary reason for putting off completing the ARE is the time + energy factor.  Everyone has a cover version of the same song; work gets busy and has crazy deadline after crazy deadline, or something major happened in their personal life, and the intern cannot find the time or the energy to study for and take tests for some amount of time.  Fair enough--life gets busy and work can get tough.  But consider this: there will always be something in your way.  Work will get hectic, you or your partner will be expecting a child, a parent will get sick, you will get sick, you will get married, you will get divorced, life will be hard.  Yes, sometimes you have to take a break, but at some point, you will decide--you must decide--that you are going to take and finish the ARE.  

If work is a constant onslaught of deadlines, it is up to you to take your boss(es) aside and explain that you need some time to finish the ARE and that your passing the tests will benefit everyone.  Most managers can respect this and will work with you to get you the space and time you need.  If you have managers that cannot respect this, then you need to change managers or jobs.  If you cannot change managers or jobs, ask yourself if that's really true.  If it's really true, then you have to figure something out.  This same advice goes for personal issues.  If you have a new baby or child, work out some arrangements to get help with child care so that you have the time to a) rest and b) study and take the tests.  If you or a loved one is having health issues, talk with their/your healthcare providers to assess what's realistic and to find support systems that can help you meet your goals.  If it seems impossible, look at it again.  If it's still impossible, you can get a forebearance on your five-year rule, depending on the reason.  If your reason for putting off the ARE isn't covered by NCARB's allowable forebearance reasons, then figure something out.

Full disclosure: my husband, also an architect, and I started taking the ARE at the same time, just as I started a big project.  Our plan was to take two every two months; this worked out to one test a month, but if we did two every two months, we could better share our one copy of all the study materials.  We took two of the tests, and my project busted wide open with no one to help me on a regular basis.  I considered postponing the tests, but I also knew that if I stopped, it might be hard to start again.  Hence, I worked sixty-hour weeks while taking the ARE.  I worked no less than seven eight-hour days a week for eight months straight while taking and passing one ARE section test per month.  While this was insane and took three months for me to recover, I got it done.  

Another colleague of mine had just started taking the ARE when his wife informed him that she was expecting a baby.  He knew that having a new little one in the house was going to be exhausting and that his wife would need his support, especially in the first months afterwards.  He accelerated his schedule of test taking and managed to have taken all of them by a few weeks before the baby arrived.  He managed to fail the last test, but he wasn't worried about it; since he couldn't take the failed test for another six months, he might as well enjoy his new daughter now and take the test again later.  Eight months after he took the failed test, he took it again and passed.

If you want it bad enough, you will take and finish the ARE.

Next post: what's up with the ARE, anyway?

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