Saturday, October 15, 2011

Best way to become a college architecture major

I'm a 16 year old high school junior and I have loved to design and draw houses and floor plans since I was at least 10 years old.  Can you please suggest some ways for me to increase my chances of getting into a strong architectural college program besides the obvious good grades and ACT score?  

I volunteer as a tour facilitator for the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and I have attended a workshop at their studio as well as some held by the Chicago Architecture Foundation.  I also work as a part time receptionist for a landscape design company.  Currently, I am taking a computer graphics class in school and I have taken some art and drawing classes in the past.  I am a strong math and physics student too.  Beyond all this, should I be developing a portfolio?  Also, I understand internships aren't typically available for high school students so what kind of preparation would you suggest?  Thank you for your help.
Truly, the best way to ensure admission to your choice of architecture programs is contact them directly and ask how they make decisions.  Is it your credentials (transcript and test scores), portfolio (if required) or other factors like extra-curricular?  Clearly, most programs will consider your academics and test scores as most important.  Also, make sure you take the required courses needed for admission.

Aside for learning the factors program consider concentrate on doing your best in your courses. In addition, attempt to take art / drawing or other creative coursework that connects your brain, eye and hand.  This work will create materials for your portfolio.  Do not worry about taking any CAD courses as it is not necessary.  You can begin to document your previous artwork for a portfolio but you have time.  Consider visiting -- for ideas.  Do not be intimidated as these examples are college students. 

Another thought is to consider attending a summer program (see attached - last year, but websites should still work).  Of course, consider Discover Architecture at UIllinois.

As you work for a design firm (albeit as a receptionist), learn everything you can about landscape design from your employer.  Ask for connections for architecture firms or other design firms for an internship.  It is true that many firms do not hire high school students, some do. 

Keep in touch if you have other questions and I wish you the best.

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