Gone are the days when prospective students applying to architecture schools get away with merely submitting an application form and a high school transcript.
Whether you are applying for entry into a pre-professional Bachelor of Science or Art (B.Sc. or B.A.) majoring in architecture, or the professional Bachelor of Architecture or Master of Architecture, chances are submitting a personal statement is necessary alongside your design portfolio.
But you could be apprehensive about the task of writing a personal statement as the requirement does not come with clear guidelines, unfortunately.
It is usually just one piece of A4-size word document, but a mighty powerful one at that – second only to your design portfolio – as it represents your voice in the eyes of the admissions evaluator.
It is essential to impress the school and show off your skills and suitability all in one place.
Here are some useful tips to get you started:
1. Give Yourself Enough Time
Probably one of the most valuable tips that you can get when it comes to personal statements is to start early.
Give yourself enough time to write your statement.
Research examples of architecture personal statements. Use one which you think is suitable as a reference but never copy.
Ask your current teachers or people in your life for feedback. If you are the only person reviewing your statement, you risk not knowing what it is missing.
2. Understand What the Statement is Asking For
There is no shame in asking for someone to read the question for you, which could help you understand it better. It could be as simple as “Tell us why you want to study architecture,” or “What would you gain from your experience at our school?”
Either way, a personal statement from a prospective architecture student is to convince the admissions evaluator that you deserve a place in their program.
Competition for entry is fierce, and you want to stand out by being yourself – no two persons are alike. So again, don’t merely copy one you found online for free; tweak and add your voice to it.
3. Introduce Yourself
No. Don’t start by saying, “I am (name), and I come from (birthplace). These are standard information already stated in your application form.
Give the school an insight into your personality and how you would add value to their community of young, budding architects.
Are you ambitious? Have any hobbies? Artistic? Work well in a team?
It does not matter what it is, as long as it helps you stand out from others. Writing a personal statement is not the time to be shy about the qualities you bring to the table – write to impress!
4. Craft Skills You Learned
You can write about the extra classes you took outside your school syllabus and how they relate to architecture.
Perhaps you’d enrolled in an oil painting or a woodworking class. Great, add it in!
But don’t just state those skills you picked up matter-of-factly. Go into the details of the intricate crafts you learned in making a piece of art or a unique solution you achieve by applying a tweak to a standard method.
Better still, point the evaluator to the piece you have included in your portfolio. Such cross-referencing can help reinforce the engagement between the evaluator and your application.
5. A Memorable Vacation
You have been to places and experienced different cultures.
Pick one that is rich architecturally, and elaborate on how your experience of walking through an ancient city or a modern architectural wonder made you want to be an architect.
6. Any Work Experience You’ve Got Under Your Belt
If you’ve got quite a bit of work experience, it is crucial to only talk about the relevant experiences that will help set you apart from the other applicants.
Write about something that shows no added value, and the evaluator would lose interest quickly. An architectural technician work experience role would be perfect for showing the school you know exactly what you are doing.
7. Talk about the future
Who exactly do you want to be when you leave architecture school?
Touch on why you want to study at a particular school and how the degree will help you with your future career. Let them know that you’ve got a whole plan set out, and you are determined to achieve it.
8. Don’t sound too academic
Remember, while you want your writing to sound professional, you don’t want it to sound like you have swallowed a thesaurus.
Too many students make this mistake while writing their personal statement, and it is very obvious to the person reading.
Authenticity over everything!
9. Check for Grammatical Errors
This tip is oft-repeated for any writing exercise, but it does not hurt to remind yourself how important this is.
Especially if you are an international student and English is not your first language, have a second pair of eyes proofread your statement.
A grammatical error-filled personal statement can be a real turn-off for the admissions evaluator.
10. Be Yourself
It may sound cliché but writing an excellent personal statement for an architecture school application is really about you.
In your absence, the personal statement represents you, and you want to make sure that it is precisely that.
There is no right or wrong in a personal statement; it is about the things that are uniquely you.
After writing the personal statement, you can start to apply to your school of choice using the complete set of architecture school application documents.