What happens at the architecture school admission interview?

ImageOne of the most surprising and enjoyable “life outside of the office” activities happen in the fall each year:  interviewing students for architecture school admission process. The decision to get involved with the admission interview process has been an accidental one:  while being the president of Cornell Alumni Club in Toronto a few years ago, I met many capable students who were contemplating a different career path which they were eager to speak to older Cornell graduates about. One day, I was contacted by an undergraduate student who was interested in the graduate architecture program, and asked for a meeting to get some advices on her future education. I was impressed with her initiative and resourcefulness….I had to meet her. After the meeting with the student, I made the decision to get involved with the official admission interview process.  

The idea of meeting students through admission interviews, who essentially want to pursue the same career(life?) direction as I had done long time ago was definitely an intriguing one. I had often described my first-year architecture school education to military training….yes, the military training!!! I used to joke with my classmates that whoever produce the best project in a class was the one who had slept the least or probably not slept at all!!!

Besides the “necessary” advice on the importance of architecture school work like the military training, there were also other typical questions such as “what made you to be interested in studying architecture?” “any related courses you are taking right now”? etc. One interesting conclusion I can draw from meeting these students is that they are all unique in their own ways. Some of the students truly impressed me with their detailed preparation work before coming to the interview. Others were eager to interview me to find as much as possible about making the right decisions for their future. They were ready to tackle the interviews as well as the interviewer!

I had enjoyed asking and answering questions to “future architects” for the last three years, and decided to complement the experience by asking the students about their personal feelings. I wanted to learn about their own experience in their own words. In fact, I had many questions that can be only answered from student’s perspective: what the student was thinking before, during and after the interview? What would they talk to their friends about? What would be their advice for their friends? What would they do differently or the same way for preparing the admission process, including the interview? Lots of questions….I decided to go to the source (one of the students I had interviewed) to write his or her own feelings throughout the process in a most candid way.

She/He came back with very honest and funny notes…stay tuned for the next blog entry to find out.

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