The art of the scholarship and why you should be applying for one

One of the hardest parts of my job is convincing a student to apply for a scholarship, especially to keep applying even in the face of rejection. I say this is the hardest part of my job because in my experience everyone gets excited about the idea of free money (aka grants and scholarships). Excitement is great if I am in line for The Price is Right, but excitement dies fast and does not write scholarship essays. The students who I see win scholarships and continue to do so, have three things in common: tenacity, repetition and a belief in themselves.

Ok, I get it. Who has time to research scholarships while taking a full load of classes, working a part-time job and trying to fit in a social life? It’s the students who are tenacious that make the time. Students who I see win scholarships at one point made the decision to set aside one activity for another. Some gave up a little sleep, others decided to stay home and fill out an application, while others didn’t even have a Spring break. These students set aside immediate reward for the possibility of something greater. It’s no different from what many of us do for class and for work, but very few of us do it for scholarships.

When I was an undergraduate, I flunked some classes and I nailed others. I did not stop taking classes because I got an A, nor did I give up on my degree because of a F. I kept taking classes and I finished my degree. Scholarships are no different. Apply for one, and then apply for another. Students who continually apply for scholarships continue to get scholarships. Just like every term there are books to buy, tests to take, projects to complete, there are also scholarships and grants to apply for. Am I going to get a scholarship by just applying one time? Absolutely not! My essay will be disjointed, I may not have thoroughly understood what the scholarship committee is looking for, and even if my application was solid there could be hundreds of others applying. The students I see receive scholarships and continue to do so, apply and then apply again.

Henry Ford (founder of Ford Motors) said, “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” What gives a student the tenacity to repeatedly apply for scholarships in the face of poor odds? The student who continues to get scholarships believes in himself. He believes in himself whether he gets an A or an F, whether his project receives accolades or harsh criticism or whether he wins a scholarship or not. Students who I see succeed against all odds believe in themselves despite “failure”. In fact they act in spite of in.

So what’s the next step? Do something different. Ask for help. Then do it again. If you have yet to apply for scholarships, go to your financial aid office or academic department and ask for a scholarship list. If you’ve apply for scholarships before, do it again. Have you seen a person in school who you know keeps winning awards? Ask her how she did it. Now apply. Now do it again.

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Tips for Living in San Diego

Whether you are a native Southern Californian, or are moving from across the country or across the globe, there are some essential facts on living in San Diego.

A good resource on living in San Diego is About San Diego.  It reviews info and facts, neighborhoods, things to do, and more.  It also points to San Diego’s view on architecture and design with a link to Orchids and Onions (NewSchool is a proud sponsor), a community-based program where public nominations of built design in the San Diego community get an Orchid for best in design, or an Onion for worst in design.

Here is a short list of facts on America’s Finest City:

1.  Bring sunscreen and apply often. You may not think about it when you are out and about in an average temp of 70.5 degrees F (21.4 C) but the sun will burn.  Our annual precipitation is less than 12 inches (30 mm) and we average 146 sunny days and 117 partly cloudy days, so you will experience alot of sun living here.

2.  We balance work and play here, although you may wonder where that ‘play’ aspect goes as you get into your studio work.  Just remember, it will balance back.

3.  You can drive to the ocean, mountains and desert all within a couple of hours.  So be sure to explore your new home and its surroundings.

4.  San Diego is the second largest city in California, and the eighth largest in the U.S., with 2.9 million residents.

5.  San Diego has 70 miles of beautiful beaches.  Again, remember the sunscreen.

So, be sure to learn more about the city you are about to call home!  We are excited to have you in San Diego and part of the NewSchool community.


Balboa Park is less than a 5 minute drive from campus.

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Running with the Bulls

Michael Stephanos,  Coordinator at New School, spent 5 weeks at the  Madrid University in Madrid, Spain (both UEM and NSAD are part of the Laureate International Universities network). NSAD encourages students to consider international opportunities during their academic careers, and Mike shares with us his perspective of learning abroad in these occasional reports from Spain:

We were met at the airport on Sunday by Andres Abasolo, the Director of Student Exchange. He got us settled in our apartment and then we spent four hours walking the central area, stopping frequently to sample food and drink. Although Madrid is in southern Europe it is on the same latitude as Toronto and it doesn’t even begin to get dark until after 9 pm.

On Monday, Andres met us for the trip to U.E.M. The trip by public transportation takes about 1 hour 20 minutes and consists of 20 minutes on the subway and 50 minutes on an express bus. To put the location of UEM in a San Diego context, imagine if you were commuting to campus somewhere beyond Poway and close to Ramona.


On Tuesday, I had my first class at the Madrid Office Park location – about 15 miles from downtown in the opposite direction from the school.  The class was an urban analysis class for first and second year students.  I talked about politics, citizen participation and development. The instructor had done a lot of research and found that we are the primary sponsor of the Onions and Orchids program, so she had assigned the students to bring their selection of both to class for discussion.

On Wednesday, I participated in a mid-term review of an assortment of 4th and 5th projects. Interestingly they call this “clarifications” to provide guidance for their completion of their projects.  On the panel was another visitor, Paul Stouten from Holland. Paul had spoken on Urban Regeneration in the Netherlands at the Cultural Center in downtown Madrid .

After the mid-term review, we all went to the cafeteria in the architecture building for lunch.  Lunch is the main meal in Spain with the lunch hour starting around 1 pm and goes to 4 pm and there is very little formal activity during that time.  As I was carrying my tray to the table I hear a yell from across the room– “Professor Stepner it is you! ” from two of our former students.  They had been talking about the lecture and remarked they saw someone that looked a little like their instructor from San Diego (me), but knew that wasn’t possible!

I will sign off for now – it almost 9:30 pm in Madrid–approaching the early dinner hour.

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2013 AIACC Lifetime Achievement Award recipient

NewSchool of Architecture and Design sends its congratulations to John E. “Jack” MacAllister, FAIA, as the 2013 AIACC Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. We know him through professional circles, and also since he is the father of one of our NSAD alumni. He also has a strong connection to San Diego since he led the design and construction of the Salk Institute in La Jolla at the age of 25.  “The breadth of Jack MacAllister’s accomplishments is amazing,” stated the Awards jury. “His contribution to the Salk Institute was just one of many seminal design projects that shaped the practice of architecture. He is incredibly gifted in foresight, artistry, commercial sensibility, and so many other aspects of the architectural profession.”


NSAD holds its graduation ceremony every year at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, which has a strong connection to award-winning architect John E. “Jack” MacCallister.

Read more about this and other interesting details of John E. “Jack” MacCallister’s remarkable life at the press release posted on the AICC website:

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