How to tell your story through a portfolio in graduate school applications?

Do you want to know how to plan for graduate school applications, especially to Architecture Schools? Meet Qingyang (Elza) Yu, an OCAD University student who spent two years building her portfolio, one of the most critical items in her graduate school applications. Her is her story…  

What motivates you to pursue graduate studies, particularly in architecture?

I am driven by my desire to acquire more advanced and cutting-edge knowledge in architecture. During my undergraduate studies in interior design, I discovered my passion for architectural design and envision it as my future career. I believe that pursuing graduate studies in architecture will equip me with the necessary skills and expertise to excel in this field.

In my opinion, the stages of education before graduate school serve as stepping stones towards finding one’s career path.

The undergraduate level can be compared to a hallway, while graduate studies can be likened to a door that opens up into a new room of opportunities.

What is your strategy for creating a portfolio for graduate school applications, and what do you consider to be the most critical aspect to include in it?

When I began my graduate school applications two years ago, I understood the importance of preparing my portfolio in advance.

Some graduate programs have language proficiency requirements that need to be fulfilled within a limited timeframe. Therefore, it is crucial to work on your portfolio while meeting these requirements.

For American architecture applicants, the portfolio typically comprises four projects. You can either revise your undergraduate work or create new designs based on the school’s assignment requirements.

To begin, I searched the internet for inspiration, identified the areas of interest, and started designing.

Always remember that design is about solving problems or easing conflicts, don’t design for design’s sake.

As an interior design undergraduate seeking to trans to graduate architecture, I aim to showcase both my interior design skills and potential for architectural design in my portfolio.

For me, the most crucial aspect of a portfolio is the project’s intent and its ability to demonstrate my creativity and problem-solving skills.

What did you enjoy most about our class, and what did you learn that you did not know before?

Although our class was conducted remotely, I recall admiring the beautiful concept models that my fellow classmates presented.

The course provided me with an opportunity to engage in hand-drawn designs and model-making, which allowed me to develop a greater appreciation for artistic and logical design.

I learned that any design, irrespective of its color or shape, must have a purpose and logic behind it.

What do you do when you are not working or studying in the classroom?

During my free time, I enjoy cooking and exploring new places.

Despite taking a break from designing, I find myself thinking about it during my downtime.

As I wander through the streets, I observe the buildings’ forms, materials, and interior layouts, all of which provide inspiration for my designs.

Ultimately, I find that exploring the world around me helps me generate new ideas and inspirations for my work.

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