Awful rejection


I got a rejection letter saying: The Selection Committee considers the quality of your portfolio insufficient. Especially on the aspect of the level of the projects your portfolio did not meet the requirements.

What does the level mean? Of course I’m not Frank Gehry, but I don’t think my work is so bad. Is this the usual thing to hear?

I read the portfolio requirements carefully and did my best (or I was thinking so). There wasn’t a lot of diagramming though, maybe that’s the reason. But I put a lot of time into it. I showed it to a professional graphic designer and he said the layout was very strong. I have both an and prof.experience. I was one of the best students in my studio while in school.

I’d like to make my portfolio better if I could understand what the hell they meant by saying such a thing. I’m so offended not by the rejection but by this phrase which means I can’t do any better because of the whole level of my work. It’s awful that I can’t ask them directly about it.

Any tips? What is the level criterion? How can I improve the situation?

I don’t want to share it, I’m too upset.

Feb 28, 09 7:16 am

not sure we can help you if we cant see what they saw?

remember that its one groups opinion and doesnt mean your work isnt up to par by other peoples standards.

it is quite a rude statement though.

Feb 28, 09 8:20 am  · 
Especially on the aspect of the level of the projects your portfolio did not meet the requirements.

Is this a real rejection letter from a legitimate university or employer? It's grammatically incorrect.

I also can't realistically imagine a university writing a letter like this. At their worst, universities are relatively polite when they turn a candidate down.

Feb 28, 09 11:58 am  · 

That is quite rude. Universities are typically abrupt and up front about their decisions, but polite. Do you mind identifying the school? Just because I have a hard time believing it. Of course if you do not wish to unveil, I understand.

Feb 28, 09 12:35 pm  · 

I'd try to focus on what they might have meant by "level of the projects". Perhaps they felt your projects were too small or not complex enough, or perhaps your drawings/renderings were not detailed enough.

My school has a website with a gallery with examples of grad and undergrad work, of course the person who chose the work for the gallery might not be on the selection committee, but you might get some ideas.

In our advising office they always had samples of previous portfolios that Sophomores could used when doing theirs to get into the Junior studios, perhaps your advising office might have some samples of previous grad portfolios.

And then you could always find out who the chair of the committee is and set up a meeting with them, bring your portfolio, ask their opinion on what could be changed. Just drop them an email asking if they'd have time to go over it.

When I was in school I was on the undergrad committee that selected the students to move on to "Level II", ie take the Junior and Senior studios. I was the non-voting student representative, so I didn't get to be in the room while the profs decided, but I knew the chair of the committee pretty well. He'd always take a couple minutes to sit down with someone, give them a few tips.

Anyways, hope this helps, good luck!

Feb 28, 09 1:54 pm  · 

It's the "especially on the aspect of the level of the projects" that's bugging me here. This just isn't proper phrasing. I simply cannot imagine a university rejection letter using this syntax.

Are you sure, prtscr, that this is what the letter said? Or are you paraphrasing?

Feb 28, 09 2:06 pm  · 

No, farwest, I'm not paraphrasing. It is the official reason for the rejection. The letter was written by an admissions officer of Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. I guess English is not his first language. It was an e-mail actually. And a hardcopy of this e-mail has been sent to me as well.

Thank you for your advice. Unfortunately I'm too far away from the Netherlands so it's not possible for me to set up a meeting.

Feb 28, 09 2:54 pm  · 

he probably didn't mean to be so blunt, probably poor English and the lost in translation thing.

If it makes you feel better, it probably wasn't personal - I doubt that TU D would give individual feedback. This was probably a generic letter sent to all that didn't make it.

Also, if it makes you even better, most schools in Europe are seeing a big spike in architecture applications.

Feb 28, 09 3:03 pm  · 

Ah, makes sense now. European universities also look for slightly different skills and strengths than American ones. I don't know if you were applying from the US, but I wouldn't take it to heart.

As an old professor of mine said, "frame that rejection and put it on the wall." If you have to look at it every day, use it as a reminder to do better next time and to show TU Delft that they missed a good opportunity in not accepting you.

Feb 28, 09 3:40 pm  · 

"level of the projects" just sounds like they want to see projects with more complexity / depth to them.

Feb 28, 09 3:59 pm  · 

Europeans can generally be less PC than Americans and no rejection letter is going to tell you exactly why your portfolio was not "sufficient."

Once your over your distress and sorrow, we'd be more than happy to critique your portfolio according to our standards.

Feb 28, 09 4:54 pm  · 
vado retro

The rejection letter writer needsa refresher course in complex sentence construction.

Feb 28, 09 5:03 pm  · 

Sorry to hear that.. dunno how to help but, they suck. Theres more schools out there that appreciate you.

Feb 28, 09 5:38 pm  · 

It's a dutch thing I think. I went to that school. They can be very upfront and direct with what they say, and many people find it to be rude, just don't take it personally. It's a large school and they pump out tons of these letters.

Mar 1, 09 2:36 am  · 

my partner went there. he is dutch. he is invariably polite but also direct, generally meaning exactly what he says without dressing ideas in meaningless flowers and frost. i expect the comment was intended to let you know they didn't think the projects were what they were looking for, but not intended to be rude. chalk it up to lost in translation english dutch...

admit i am curious to see the work, but try not to take it too personal. it is part of archi-life to be rejected on regular basis. it goes the other way often enough to make it bearable...

Mar 1, 09 8:04 am  · 

Very rude indeed. Very sorry you had to deal with that.

I also got a very rude one back when I was applying. In all CAPS it just said, "YOU ARE NOT RECOMENDED FOR ADMISSION."

It aint the end of the world. If you need some help with your folio in the future, you can always post here for solid advice. Most people are more than happy to advise.

Mar 1, 09 10:13 am  · 

i wish i were the admissions director of a school. I'd make every letter so ambiguous that come august some students would show up for orientation and others would decide they were rejected. they'd pick themselves....

wait.... sounds kind of like the plot for Accepted...

damn comedy central....

but yeah. i wouldn't sweat it. That is an extraordinarily difficult school to get into and that email was probably babelfished anyways.

Mar 2, 09 7:46 pm  · 

I'm glad the grammar is getting such attention, because it really is awful. I'd respond simply (and cathartically) with the following letter:

The Rejected Applicant considers the quality of your sentence structure insufficient. Especially in the following sentence fragment:

Especially on the aspect of the level of the projects your portfolio did not meet the requirements

Mar 3, 09 3:08 pm  · 

I actually had a pretty negative experience with the Delft admission staff as well. I was accepted there last year and due to circumstances outside of my control, was unable to provide a passport until 2 weeks after their deadline for deposit. It took me hours of phone calls and several near nervous break downs before i could find anyone who was even WILLING to help me find the person i should be talking to. they were ACTIVELY unhelpful and rude to me... it might just be a delft thing...

Mar 4, 09 11:21 am  · 

Delft has a big beurocratic administration, but it doesn't necessarily reflect the quality of the program or students.

As for the tone of the letter, if it were me, I would pay no mind. I've been through the grad app process and got some rejection letters. Often I just threw them into a pile without paying attention to the verbage. The only thing you should take from the letter are the words "accepted" or "not accepted" and moved on because there is nothing you can do about it at this point.

Mar 4, 09 11:41 am  · 

personally, I'd prefer getting a rejection letter that explicitly states where my application was deficient, instead of something vague like "due to the large number of applicants, we cannot accept all highly qualified individuals at this time." that kind of response just encourages people to apply again and again - which seems more like a racket to me.

I'd rather be told up front that my portfolio sucked, or my grades were too low, or something, so I could spend the next year fixing it.

so - your portfolio wasn't good - maybe you need to focus less on your student and professional work and figure out your strengths and interests and play to them. Schools are looking for well-rounded classes, not necessarily well-rounded students.

Mar 4, 09 1:33 pm  · 

prtscr, when did you submit your application to Delft?
I applied to the school as well and it's been 6 weeks (timeframe they claimed it would take to come to a decision) since they've confirmed the receipt of my hard copy documents...
I'm wondering when I'll hear back from them.

Mar 4, 09 2:31 pm  · 

I apologize if I sound insensitive - that email really did suck. I hope I'm not getting the same one...

Mar 4, 09 2:32 pm  · 

Thank you all, I'm feeling a little better now.

I got the e-mail after 5 weeks since they received my app.
Once you're in - please share your folio so I could learn what kind of work they value. Cos I’m really lost at the moment. And good luck to you!

Mar 5, 09 3:11 am  · 


have you considered any other school?! and, where are you based?! maybe we can help you choose better next time

Mar 5, 09 6:39 am  · 
chicago, ill

Years ago an old-fashioned tenured architecture professor at Yale told me: "we want people who already fit our mold", meaning applicants whose portfolios already accurately displayed current architectural content and graphic styling of their school faculty. I appreciated his frankness.

Mar 5, 09 3:30 pm  · 


Mar 6, 09 2:38 am  · 

where you eligible to appeal the rejection? And if so did you try?

I'm not too sure of the success rates at Delft are for appeals though...

May 14, 13 9:36 pm  · 

Years ago an old-fashioned tenured architecture professor at Yale told me: "we want people who already fit our mold", meaning applicants whose portfolios already accurately displayed current architectural content and graphic styling of their school faculty. I appreciated his frankness.

This thread is over 4 years old, and I thought it was newer.  The admissions committees know, most of the time, what is and isn't a good fit.  I totally believe what the Yale dude said.  Not only do they see it in the portfolio, but also in what they read between the lines, and perceive, in the application materials.  There are several (not so funny) things, especially if this is for a M.Arch. 1:  a) a smart person can learn what the school's style is and, as they absorb the material, will probably be cranking out stuff that is along their train of thought, and b) it breeds group-think.  My first rejection came from UVa.  Their incoming class was tiny, around 15.  I got over it.  It would have been a horrible match, especially after visiting and meeting their students in the 3 year M.Arch. class.  Things often turn out the way they are supposed to.

May 14, 13 10:00 pm  · 

Aside from the terrible grammer, this is your ticket to a good life.  Sue the school.  I'm sure it devasted your ego and emotionally scarred you from ever becoming an architect. xDD  gosh.. i wish i'd get a rejection letter like that.. life could be set for me ;P


which school is it from anyway?

May 15, 13 7:29 pm  · 

Consider this a blessing in disguise.  Do you want to spend $$$$$ more on grad school, only to find out then that there are few available positions with thousands of experienced applicants applying for them?

May 16, 13 12:49 pm  · 

hmmm, anybody else curious about the projects?

May 16, 13 1:00 pm  · 

It sounds like English isn't his first language, so his only approach was to be honest and blunt.

Think of it this way, you could've either gotten the typical softball "We apologize, we will not be able to accept you for Fall 2013. We had many qualified candidates and this was a very hard decision blah blah" <-- which essentially gives you NO direct information

or this sort of response, as brutal as it may be, is honest and pretty direct.  They are looking  to put together a class with more advanced work under their belt.  


Sorry though, rejection stings.  Use it to strengthen yourself, not weaken your resolve.

May 17, 13 9:50 am  · 

I got plenty of rejection letters when applying to grad school but nothing like THAT.  Very unprofessional.  And honestly your work and folio is probably better than mine.

In most cases addmission committees from the actual program (usually the chair/cochair of the grad program) will send you the rejection and offer their phone number so you can discuss your work with them.  And usually they are very nice and insightful.

Screw em' and keep your head up.  If they are being like that, you don't want to be at the program.

May 17, 13 11:41 am  · 

This isn't intended to sound snarky, but I hope the OP has gotten over this rejection, since the original post was created in Feb. 2009.

The wording of the rejection is awful.

May 17, 13 1:18 pm  · 

"... anybody else curious about the projects?"

May 22, 13 10:52 am  · 

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