Interview with Anna Krasinskaya

17.07.2012, 16:28
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– What is the applicant selection process going to be like this year?

We are going to try out a different applicant selection format this year, which we believe will not only be more effective and precise for applicant selection, but will also be more appealing to both us and our applicants. It is often the case that someone knows a thing or two about the Strelka Institute going in, let’s say, you like this space, you like the events taking place here, but you have no idea whether it is a good fit for you. Now we want to change this: the selection process itself will become an interesting event for applicants, a great opportunity really to get to know the Strelka team and learn about our approach to education.

The admissions board will start by reviewing the portfolios of all applicants who submit their applications before August 1. This is going to be a large workshop, with all the experts on the admissions board involved in the process. The most important thing for us at this stage is to understand how well each applicant matches all the formal criteria for admission to Strelka: whether he or she has a university degree, how well they can speak English, how good is the fit between their personal preferences and ideas and Strelka goals, how appealing they find trying something new, changing something in the city on their own. We want to talk to people who share our vision from the get-go.

As a result of this initial workshop, the Admissions Board will select all the portfolios they like, and all the applicants who succeed at this stage will be invited to attend a two-day admissions session on August 20-21. Attending the admissions session is mandatory for applicants from Russia and the Former Soviet Union (FSU). We also want to see our international applicants there, if at all possible, but those who cannot make it will receive invitations for a Skype interview.

The admissions session is a two-day, incredibly intense and action-packed workshop that will provide our applicants an opportunity to meet the Strelka team, talk to some of their future professors and our alumni, and get involved in a whole series of group training activities, games, discussions and small interviews. This is really going to be a lot of fun! The applicants will have a chance to get a better overall idea of Strelka, of our goals, dreams and ideas. First and foremost, we want to see if the people attending have the qualities we are looking for in applicants, including leadership skills and potential, creativity, the desire to grow, the ability to work in a team and an authentic interest in working on research projects.

We will make our final decisions on applicant selection on the basis of the admissions session, and every successful applicant will receive a notice of admission immediately after August 23.

– Why have you decided to change the admissions process?

I am sure that studying at Strelka is a unique experience for anyone: our students achieve quite a lot in as little as one year – even less – within that time, they to do an exciting project about the city, develop their research and visual skills, get to know leading experts in and practitioners of urban development – designers and architects, scientists and entrepreneurs, public servants and urban activists.

However, when we look at our alumni who want to continue doing urban development projects and continue promoting the Strelka values in their future professional life, we note certain qualities in them. There are certain qualities they cannot do without: they’ve got to have a propensity for leadership, an urgent desire to make an impact, they have to have a dream. We realize very well that we want to see these qualities in our applicants as well as our graduates and alumni.  We want to see the kind of people studying at the institute who are already infected with the idea that one can change the life of an urban dweller for the better by using personal initiative, through cooperation with the city hall, entrepreneurs, and activists. We want to work with these people, we want to give them at least some additional opportunities. And we have come to realize that getting to know each other at the admissions session is incredibly valuable both for us and for our applicants, because this way we can learn more about each other and understand each other so much better.

– How can someone prepare for the events the Admissions Board is running?

On the one hand, we want to offer a comprehensive program that would take into account the intellectual potential of every applicant. The admissions session will include a series of discussions about the city and the issues that we see as fundamental. It is important that we see the way our prospective students think about the world around them. They would have to have a pretty good grasp of what is going on in Moscow, to have some understanding of the contemporary international architectural and urban studies context, they have to read the newspapers, read the books that we recommend on our blog. On the other hand, it is also very important to realize that this session gives us an honest opportunity to get to know each applicant. Therefore, coming in, you should realize that this is not going to be a test at which we would just evaluate and critique you; you should understand that our admissions session is about both whether we see the applicants as Strelka students and whether or not they see themselves in this capacity.