Why Architecture?

So, what do you want to do with your life?

I can’t count how many times I’ve been asked this question, by teachers, peers, strangers, even myself. It’s impossible to choose a career path with full confidence. We all have a multitude of interests, and one occupation couldn’t possibly fulfill everything we desire. It was tough to be selective in my passions as college applications rolled out. After hundreds of hours of deliberating, doubting, and deciding, I settled on applying to architecture programs nationwide.

I admittedly considered pursuing art as a career, but I felt that it didn’t offer me enough “real world” impact. Churning out canvasses and sculptures to be admired in galleries wouldn’t give me the satisfaction of making a difference in my community.  I chose architecture because it uses art and creativity as a platform for the humanistic influence I crave. Architects are able to make tangible impacts on their societies that will stand long after themselves. Designing a building or a bridge isn’t just about looks or aesthetics. It’s about creating spaces where people will exist, where their memories will be made, and that’s an insanely powerful, and rewarding position to be in.

Going into my college application process, I didn’t know how much more work I’d have to do than most of my peers. On top of taking standardized tests, writing the required essays for general admissions, and filling out forms, forms, and more forms, I had to write architecture specific essays, create a multimedia art portfolio in a single semester, and decide what kind of architect, and person, I wanted to be. It was an extremely busy and stressful stretch of months, but I managed to come out of it relatively unharmed.

I applied to nine schools in total: UCLA, UC Berkeley, the University of Notre Dame, ASU – Barrett Honors College, the University of Hawaii – Mānoa, Northeastern, USC, Syracuse University, and Washington University in St. Louis. About half of them had portfolio requirements, all slightly different, but some common themes ran through them. They wanted me to show a breadth of artistic capability, in a variety of mediums. However, each and every school said that although artistic excellence is great, creativity and individuality were most valuable. My best piece of advice to anyone who is applying to architecture schools is to find your artistic identity and push it to its limits. Trust me, I know how much easier said this is than done. I still don’t think I’ve found all of mine, and I’m not sure I ever will. But, every so often, a glimpse of it will peak out from the shadows and I’ll create a piece that’s a true reflection of who I am. That is what architecture schools are looking for in applicants.

I received admission from Washington University in St. Louis, ASU Barrett, Syracuse University, USC, and the University of Hawaii, and was waitlisted at the University of Notre Dame, Northeastern University, and UC Berkeley. It was SO gratifying to see my hard work pay off. Deciding on USC was an easy choice. I visited USC, as well as WashU and Syracuse, a week before deposits were due. I knew USC was the one because of it’s comprehensive program, incredible staff, and unreal opportunities from job connections to travel ab road programs. I know that I’m going to get a well rounded architecture education, from pen and paper to computer modeling, from technical comprehension to complete creative chaos. I am absolutely thrilled, and cannot wait!

I’ll be posting another blog entry soon specifically about my art portfolio – how I got started, where I drew inspiration from, how I put it together,  and the actual portfolio itself, so stay tuned!

Thank you so much for supporting me through this journey. It’s just the beginning, and I can’t wait to bring you along for the ride.


Best, Hana


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