As some of you may be aware, Saori and I are applying to graduate schools to finish our academic education in architecture. It's been a long time coming. Last year, I began the application process, originally intending to apply for fall 2009. That fell through, in part over my internal conflict as to what type of school to apply to, in part because I started late enough in the year that I told myself that I didn't have enough time to put together a good enough application package.
Speaking of which, there's a lot of components, and while there is some overlap in what college require, most of them have unique and specific applicaiton parts. Mom was telling me about her experience with applying to Law School was a lot more simple. You signed up on a central clearinghouse for law school applications, and filled out a form, and the system took care of the rest. WIth architecture, these are the standard application materials:
GRE scores- some schools impose a minimum, other schools are more lax about it. Some schools don't even require it.
Transcripts- most schools require official copies to be sent directly to them from the undergraduate university. Berkeley required you send a copy AND also to scan and upload an official copy.
Portfolio- this one is the standard. Every architecture graduate school requires a portfolio of work, and only one school I'm applying to has a digital submission. Every other school requires you have your portfolio printed and bound, and shipped direct. Length seems to vary widely. I started with around 30 pages and whittled it down to 25 including a table of contents/coversheet. Some I've seen online had as many as 60 pages, and some fewer than ten. I tried to keep the page count down to showcase the best projects while also showing a wide range of project types, scale, and representations.
Application- Most schools have switched over to online forms. These vary in complexity and depth. Berkeley's is a nightmare to figure out as theres no linear progression from page to page, and the applicaiton menu lists additional items and forms not required by the application. It takes many visits just to understand the layout and what to complete. Yale School of Architecture was incredibly simple and straightforward. Utah's application asks for your drivers licence and where your parents live. Most of the applications ask about work and educational history, ethnicity, grade reports, etc. Actually, I was surprised how often forms asked for information reported on standard forms you have to send in anyway, like official transcripts and GRE scores.
Statement of Purpose- This one is tricky. Every school wants to hear about your personal background, and your academic and professional interests. Sometimes they ask for three letters to express this, sometimes one or two, so it takes some carefull disection and stitching to get the essays ready to go. According to one academian, reviewers only look at the first paragraph anyway. By the "first paragraph" standard, I think I've got a pretty good short paper.
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