Do I have a chance at an Ivy league school?


Gender/EthnicityAsian Female

Age: 22

GPA: 3.51 GRE: 160Q 160V 5W

Portfolio:  Considered as the best in my class because I won several portfolio competitions throughout the years. I have 4 studio projects, 3 digital fabrication projects, and couple of drawings.

Awards: I have won a national architecture competition and was a finalist in an international competition. I have also published a paper with my professor.

Resume: Worked at a firm for a year.

Interested Schools: MIT, Columbia, Princeton, Cornell, UPenn, UMich, Harvard

I am pretty confident in many aspects of my application. I also have very close connections with all of my professor, so I am not worried about my letters of recommendations. I am just worried because my GPA is not very competitive. My GPA is average and maybe slightly below average because I have mental health disorders and my dad died from battling cancer for several years during my freshmen and sophomore years.

Please give me your honest opinion. I am not nervous about UMich, but I am nervous about the others because I heard Ivy Leagues really care about GPA. Thank you!

Mar 25, 20 10:19 am
Non Sequitur

where is the folio link?

Mar 25, 20 10:36 am

I am not posting my portfolio as I have had people try to copy my work/portfolio before.

Non Sequitur

right.... well then. good luck


It is virtually impossible to ascertain your qualification without the single most important component of your application. The GPA matters but your other achievements and portfolio could tip the balance. Also, GPA has to be considered in the context of your undergraduate program.

I'd say don't be afraid of others copying your portfolio - some of the best designers at those very schools that you listed publish their work on social media and have their own websites.


Truly the only thing that matters is your portfolio. GPA is close enough. 

Nobody cares what your gender or ethnicity is, though I guess it is a factor in admissions to some schools.

Every school will be what you make of it. Plenty of terrible architects and designers coming out of ivy league schools, plenty of great ones coming from other places. 

That said, Columbia, MIT, UMich would be my top three picks from those schools based on the people i've worked with in my career.

Mar 25, 20 12:22 pm

If you want an honest critique of your chances, you have to let people see your portfolio some how. If you really want a good assessment of the application situation, I suggest you read through this thread:

Many shared their work and experience online, which are valuable resources. 

Mar 25, 20 12:28 pm

GSD, MIT's requirement is all less than 30 spreads. While Penn and gsapp has even less spreads. I will say you should format diagrams in a more compact way. If possible, show some final model and explain how you resolve the space. Don't know what your school offers but some more serious architecture projects such as housing, theaters, schools, and such will help. If possible, incorporate your artistic skill into your design process.


Okay, thank you!


Your odds are not zero but not 100%. You're not going to get a more accurate estimate without posting some designs.

Mar 25, 20 2:16 pm

This is my portfolio. It is not fully updated with this semester's work and has some of last semester's work. I will probably get rid of this link after a couple of days. Thank you for your time!

Mar 25, 20 2:28 pm

It's far, far too long.  Different schools have different page limits (and some have none), but these are mostly in the 12 to 30 page range.  Your portfolio shows an inability to edit your work.  You have a few very nice images and projects, but they're buried among piles of uninteresting material and about 1000% too much text.  Everything has a sameness to it that makes it unappealing and tedious to wade through it all.

First scrap the first page with the blurb about what your portfolio is about.  That reads as a bunch of pretentious bs that will make some reviewers stop right there.  Then get rid of the Table of Contents.  Then pick 3 to 4 good projects and get rid of all the others.  Now edit those good projects down to no more than 3 to 5 images each, and two sentences of text each.

Then come back and post it again.  Right now I'd give it a C minus.

As for the rest of your stats:  your scores and GPA are fine.  Nobody really cares about the competitions you've won.  At least two thirds of applicants have those sorts of things on their resume - list it but don't expect it to impress anyone much.  Focus on your portfolio, statement of purpose, and make sure you've got three excellent recommendation letters from people who really know you and can write knowledgeably about your unique qualifications.

Mar 25, 20 2:38 pm

Yeah, I agree. I have to edit my portfolio down to the page limit. This portfolio is more about my cumulative work rather than a portfolio for grad schools. I am still editing the one for grad schools.

Non Sequitur

It's about 70 pages too long.

some nice images but everything is lost because of the bulk.  No sexy sketches for the projects with CAD drawings?  What happened there?

Also, that thread section can be reduced to a 2-page spread.

Mar 25, 20 3:40 pm

I will edit down my portfolio to about 35 pages. Which project with the CAD drawing? I did a lot of my projects in CAD. Thanks for your help!

Non Sequitur

the mostly white plan and elevation projects. don't remember the title. Just seems a tease to have those sketches up front then nothing afterwards. The point of the folio is not a grocery list of everything you've ever done while in school. It's intended to be a representation of your design problem solving skills and creative flair.


I understand what you're talking about now! Thank you! My professor gave me the same critique, and I am working on it.


Before showing ur portfolio with all ur babbling about people copying ur work and stuff, I was expecting nothing less than a Distinction student's work from Bartlett School of Architecture. But after showing - it look just... Bland...? Not only that, ur plans looks "lazy". No offence. It also look more like a Product Design / Industrial Design portfolio than architecture. 

Mar 25, 20 3:46 pm

Dude, who crapped in your cereal? Not my fault if you expected my work to look like a grad student from Bartlett when I just said people tried to copy my work when there were people who did. It's because of dickheads like you that puts people down. I asked for critiques not insults. Geez.


Ma'am here. Thanks <3 Also, it is a critique. (Please watch ur language if u haven't be taught). If u can't handle it, don't post :) Simple. I am stating the fact, ur work is not up to standard so stop thinking others would want to copy ur work. It is very obvious u are thinking too highly of urself. Just put ur ego down and accept the criticism provided by everyone here for u. Please don't OVERTHINK, nowhere did I say GRAD STUDENT. I said BARTLETT STUDENT. Stop trying to blame others for not stroking ur ego. As others have put it - no, it is not good enough. 


Lmao you're an idiot. Please get off my thread. I have responded to every person's critique cordially and with humility, but yours because you chose to be a dickhead. "Stop trying to blame others for not stroking [your] ego." Sorry, I did no such thing. Again, the only person who I thought is an imbecile on this thread is you. Also, I don't think my work is super good and I don't think others would want to copy it. Sometimes, random idiots copy others' work for no apparent reason which has happened to me before on another forum. So, before you let the gap on your mouth open, please consider what others have gone through. "Please watch [your] language if [you] haven't [been] taught." What are you 2? It is a forum and cuss words are, at the end of the day, just words of expressions. But if you can't handle it, then get the heck out of my thread.


You're both somewhat grating.


I found it a little boring.  Nothing really caught my eye, or pooped out at me.  Just black and white pages.  

Mar 25, 20 5:04 pm

Okay, thank you! I'll try to add more flair into it.


As others above have pointed out, the main problem now is length. You have plenty of material - identify the best half-dozen (or less) that showcase different processes through arresting graphics and thoughtful designs. Schools are interested in what unique qualities you can bring to the student body and if you have the ability to perform to the standards required. Succesfully editing your portfolio to craft a personal tale is thus critical - especially when you wouldn't have too much time to impress in Round 1 of portfolio reviews.

Ultimately the schools are looking for potential - thus the eclectic background of M.Arch I students from economics to sculpture and music. I think you have as good a chance as any other applicant with a background in architecture. Now you just have to tell a compelling story through your designs, words, and references.

Your drawings are lacking in annotation and perhaps that's why you have far less of those than axons, diagrams, and renders - all of which have potential. Add some color to make your images 'pop' and showcase a sense of style. Black and white images are OK if polished like Instagram favorite archekk but your take on it has a rough, hand-drawn quality that works better when used sparingly.

Mar 25, 20 5:57 pm

Thank you! I appreciate it!


Another point - do use at least one project to display spatial thinking and problem solving. Probably the first one serves this purpose best.


i will say as someone who went ivy, i was surprised they let me in (& others)

but the education & (most of) your fellow students are quite good

as my dad said to me: "don't stress about only need to get into one school"

Mar 25, 20 7:40 pm

Yeah I know, but, at the same time, I have to stress about it! Hahaha


kinda want to see more physical models for architecture projects

Mar 26, 20 8:32 am

On point! More


I think your work is good, and you have a great chance, but the portfolio is a bit too exhaustive. You don't need to show every drawing for each project, instead, just include the best work that brings across the concept and the design in 2-3 spreads, as only a few minutes will be spent looking at it. I took this approach with my portfolio and it really paid off for me this year :) 

Also, I agree that you could make the layout and your plans a bit more exciting, they are quite sterile. Don't listen to anyone discouraging you on here - I did my portfolio in a month, and if you have this much time left, you'll do great!

Mar 27, 20 9:11 am

I'll take a stab at it.

A general comment :your hand work in the first project is evocative and engaging. Its a shame that those qualities don't carry over into your digital drawings (plans and elevations). They're too flat and dry.

1) I would take out the Diluvian project. The resulting site plan is banal and I didn't grasp its connection to your research as a solution.

2) I didn't see any section drawings. This makes me question your understanding of three-dimensional space and experience. Definitely consider putting at least one in there. Bonus points for putting some heart into the graphics (see the end of comment 1).

3) For the text, I think the length of the intro paragraphs are okay. Everything else should be simplified to a single caption at most. The only purpose that these captions should have is to help the reader understand the importance of what they're looking at. It shouldn't take someone more than five seconds to understand your spread.

4) I agree with others that its too long. Consider the format 'restrictions, response, and resolution', and give one page to each. I find that this format is simpler than trying to communicate each step of your journey.

Good luck!

Mar 27, 20 10:35 am

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