Saara got accepted into Aalto University – See her work!

Oct 30 / HEINI
Saara Abdi attended our year-long preparatory course and got accepted into Aalto University’s prestigious Bachelor’s Programme in Design! In this article, Saara talks about her journey to this point and presents her most successful preliminary and intake assignment work.

To study design instead of medicine

Saara’s interest in art and design began in 2015 while she was working as an intern at a contemporary art museum Kiasma. Saara also worked as a guide and wrote a blog for Amos Rex one summer, which further increased her interest in the art world.

“In my senior year at high school, I started to think more about what I want to do in the future. I’ve always been interested in medicine and that’s been my thing, but at the beginning of the senior year I realized that it was not what I wanted to do. I forced myself to explore different study options and did hours of research. Studies in design and art seemed the most diverse, so I started thinking about applying somewhere in those fields. ”

Saara also gained more confidence after being selected to the Amos Rex Generation 2020 exhibition, where she exhibits four digital works.

“In the spring of 2020, I also applied to study visual communication. However, I didn’t have time to complete the preliminary assignments because graphic design was still quite new to me, so I had to learn many things from the beginning.”

Application process and intake assignment  

After that, Saara attended our preparatory course and decided to apply to Aalto University’s Bachelor’s Programme in Design.

“I decided to apply for the programme because it was quite extensive, and there was no need to immediately choose whether to focus on visual communication or service design or what. As the programme is in English, I thought it would facilitate internationalization and would also be useful when studying user interface design, where many terms are in English. “


“In this preliminary assignment, I wanted to do a campaign that aims to reduce prejudice around menstruation. The topic is still quite taboo somewhere and as I am a woman myself, it really inspired me. I spent quite a lot of time on this, and I feel that I did really well.”

“The preliminary assignments were in January and there were three assignments of which two went well in my opinion. I think I have more problem-solving skills and creativity, whereas my artistic skills are not that good. I was very surprised that I got through to the second intake assignment phase, because I thought all the three assignments should have been done perfectly.”

“It was very useful when the SDS’s teachers told me that success does not necessarily depend on how artistic you are, but the most important thing is being able to find a problem and solve it creatively.”
After the preliminary assignments, the selected applicants continued to work on the intake assignments, which had to be completed within two weeks. The assignments included three design and visual communication assignments, as well as a video to explain the work and to demonstrate the applicant’s English language skills.

INTAKE ASSIGNMENT 2: Day of Peace – campaign

Design a Day of Peace campaign and show how it appears in three different media.
“I had to plan a Day of Peace campaign and present how it would show in three different media. I made a magazine cover, a YouTube ad, and a new front page for the MyHelsinki website that promotes the Day of Peace.”

“The intake assignments went fine, some better and some worse. When I received an email in May that I was selected to continue to the interview phase, I was in quite a shock. The interview also went quite well and I answered everything really honestly, but I was still left feeling I didn’t get to say everything I wanted. However, I think I stood out from some of the applicants because I spoke English, even though it was possible to conduct the interview in Finnish as well.”

“I was surprised that the interview had such a strong emphasis on the application process. The intake assignments were worth 60 points in total, whereas the interview yielded a maximum of 40 points.”

INTAKE ASSIGNMENT 2: Day of Peace – campaign

“I designed a Dove mascot, but I made it look like that Chinese New Year dragon that is carried with sticks so that it looks like it’s dancing. The Dove is set in the center of the Day of Peace event, for the participants to write their thoughts on peace.”

“Going forward, I want to try everything and I am especially interested in user interface design and everything related to a user. This programme offered everything from furniture design to service design and product design, and fortunately a more specific major must be chosen only at the master’s level.”


“Do not stress too much if you’re not the most artistic person in the world. With good problem-solving skills, you can go really far, because in every assignment there was a problem to be solved. Also, do not think too much about the number of applicants and the admission percentage. I panicked because about 450 applied for this programme and only about 25 get in every year.

Additionally, it is very important to follow the assignment and its instructions carefully. In this programme one can combine technology, design, and creativity, which is why this is well suited for those who do not yet quite know what they want to do in the future.”
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