Auburn Family

The Battle to Design - Katie Ginn describes her experience getting into the Auburn University School of Architecture

In order to be a full time student at Auburn University you have to take at least 12 hours worth of classes. That is roughly about five classes, give or take, depending on electives and labs. That is enough to keep even the most dedicated student busy, and most scholars do not just take the minimum required each semester. What if, instead of just sitting in the library fighting AU Access to schedule your classes, you had to compete against anywhere from 50 to 100 students just to have the opportunity to be allowed to register for the classes of your choice? This is a very real situation for students who want to get into the Auburn University School of Architecture. Katie Ginn, a second year architecture student at Auburn, vividly remembers the two summers she spent in the architecture school’s summer option, and she has some advice for students considering majoring in architecture.

Ginn started her college career at the University of Troy as a political science major; a major she chose because she thought she wanted to be a lawyer. “I realized I missed taking math classes, so in order to take more, I switched my major to math education,” Ginn said. She pursued this path in order to become a high school math teacher but then realized she wanted an occupation that would allow her the opportunity to make more money. This brought Ginn to change her focus to civil engineering. She then spent two summers working with engineers at a paper mill in her hometown of Jackson, Ala. “I would get so bored at work that I would start drawing,” Ginn explained. She had never had any sort of formal art training, but her coworkers and superiors took notice. “Everyone at work started telling me how good I was at it. Then one day someone suggested that I should go into architecture, and it kind of stuck,” Ginn said. “Also I remember being obsessed with HDTV in like the fifth grade.” Ginn transferred to Auburn and signed up for the architecture school’s summer option.

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Summer option is a four week program in the summer where students go to class from 12 to 5, Monday through Friday. Each week they are given a project that is due at the end of that given week. Their projects are graded and then each student is given a ranking. “Basically you are competing for a spot in the school,” Ginn said. After the fourth week, a cut is made and those students who do not make it do not get to enter architecture school. This is a cut that Ginn missed by two spots her first go around in the summer of 2008. “My rankings that year were 8, 7, 7 and 41. The cut off was 39,” Ginn said. After coming so close, Ginn thought that maybe it was a sign that architecture school wasn’t for her. “I realized that there was nothing else I really wanted to do, so I tried again.” The second time showed Ginn that this was the major for her. “This past summer my rankings were 31, 2 and then I got ranked first in my class,” Ginn said with grin. If you get into the school, they do not tell you your final ranking so everyone will be considered equal.

Since Ginn endured a long, and at times heartbreaking, ordeal to get into the school, she wants to make sure potential students are prepared. “You hear all these stories about how hard and time consuming it is, well, it is everything people tell you plus five times more,” Ginn said. She explained that if you want to do well in the school then you have to have a lot of dedication. “You really have to mentally prepare yourself for this.”

Since entering the program Ginn has made model after model and drawing after drawing. Some she has enjoyed, like her meditation space that got her a first place ranking, and some she has not, like drafting out sketches. But whether she is happy with her assignments or not, she knows her hard work is well worth it. “I find myself dreaming of architecture,” Ginn said. “It pays off though and, as weird as it may seem, when I am not at the studio I find myself wanting to be. I am really happy that I gave it another shot.”

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Tags: Auburn, Katie Ginn, architecture, summer option


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