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I forgot to tell you what else I did at the AIAS College Fair
by Katy Purviance on 08/29/08 @ 02:31:44 pm
Categories: Events, Applying to Grad School | 680 words | 1463 views

Yesterday, I told you about the upcoming AIAS College and Career Fair. I told you about how I brought my proto-portfolio so that I could get some constructive criticism from the architecture schools there.

But I forgot to tell you what else I did that helped me out when it came time to put together my grad school appplications.

Most schools want a Statement of Purpose, or something like it. Instead of playing guessing games, I just asked them what they were looking for.

You know what, though? Most schools will give the same, generalized answer: “Just write about who you are and what you’re interested in as it pertains to architecture.”

Okay, I need more information than that. So I changed my tactics.

I asked, “Was there one Statement that really stood out? The kind of Statement that you wish more people would write?”

One school’s representative told me the best Statement he ever read was about a guy who decided to redo his bedroom. He used the Statement to discuss his design decisions and to recount his misadventures at Home Depot. It’s a tidy Day-in-the-Life style essay that allows the reader a look into the applicant’s mind; instead of fluff about how the guy really likes architecture, the school gets to see how the guy thinks.

Next, I asked, “What kind of Statement should I avoid writing?”

I got the same kind of answer from a number of schools on this one. They said to avoid trying to cram your whole life story into your two pages. You cannot possibly discuss your whole life in a meaningful way with any real depth in just two pages. If you feel the need to cover your whole life (as I did), do this: pick two or three Defining Moments of your Life. Use each moment as a sort of “lens” to frame and showcase who you are and how you think.

You know what Admissions People DON’T want to see in your Statement? They don’t want to read about how you liked playing with Legos as a kid. Everyone liked playing with Legos as a kid. Your Statment is your big chance to show how you are unique; don’t fall for the Lego Temptation.

So get yourself to Chicago and make some magic happen.

For the fourth year in a row, high school and college students and their parents from around North America will have the opportunity to meet with school representatives to explore the exciting careers and educational opportunities available in architecture and other design disciplines. In conjunction with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, the AIAS will host a Architecture College and Career Expo on the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, IL. The event will be held on Saturday, September 20, 2008.

Please pre-register online (it’s free!) so we can keep you informed about the event

Schedule of Events
9:00 - 10:00 a.m. Student Registration
10:00 - 11:00 a.m. Keynote Presentation
11:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. School Exhibits Open
11:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. Workshop #1: Choosing an Undergraduate and Graduate Program
12:30 - 1:00 p.m. Architecture Informational Session
1:00 - 1:30 p.m Interior Design Informational Session
1:30 - 2:00 p.m. Landscape Architecture Informational Session
2:00 - 2:30 p.m. Urban Design/Planning Informational Session
2:30 - 3:15 p.m. Workshop #2A: A Day in the Life of an Architect (panel discussion)
2:30 - 4:30 p.m. Workshop #2B: New Techniques in Design Research
Times TBD Mies Society Tours

Please click here for further details about the event (you will be directed to our partner’s Web site). There you can find the list of participating schools, information on parking, driving directions and more).

The AIAS will host another Expo during FORUM, our annual convention. At that event, students will learn more about graduate schools and meet with representatives of various building products and software manufacturers. Additional information for attendees and exhibitors can be found at

For additional information or questions on these two events, please contact the AIAS at 202.626.7472 or

American Institute of Architecture Students
T 202.626.7472

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I am starting a new kind of architecture school. Unlike most architecture schools, you wouldn't have to submit GRE scores or good grades or letters of recommendation. You wouldn't have to put the rest of your life on hold for 3 to 5 years. You wouldn't have to accrue tens of thousands of dollars in debt. At my architecture school, anyone could come for a few weeks and learn how to build a house with their own two hands. My teachers would take skills and concepts from some of these other workshops I've listed above... except classes would be held year-round to make it easy to fit into your schedule. I would have a number of different campuses around the country that would teach building designs appropriate to the local climate. And I need your help. Can you donate land for a campus? Can you dotate books for a library? Can you teach a workshop? Can you provide start-up capital? Let me know.

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