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Thread: AICP application vent

  1. #1
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    AICP application vent

    In the beginning of January, I sent in my application for the May 2009 exam. I waited patiently for my approval letter, but after 6 weeks, I bit the bullet and shelled out for some exam prep materials and started studying. After 10 weeks, I called AICP to find out that I was rejected but couldn't find out why until my official rejection letter was sent. I called back and got the response emailed today, which was good because the letter took almost three weeks to show up. I have until May 1 to appeal, but even if my appeal is accepted, I can't take the test until November. The rejection stated: "The applicant's experience with AECOM qualifies as professional-level environmental review, not urban, rural and regional planning. In particular, the applicant's response to Criterion 2 (Comprehensiveness) and Criterion 3 (Appropriate Planning Process) do not address the elements required by the application to illustrate urban, rural and regional planning experience."

    The whole process is ridiculous! I have been an urban planner for 5 years. Rural planning? I live and work in NYC. We don't have rural planning. All of my coworkers are AICP and the planner that works for me was just accepted to take the test. I am also still waiting to get my application fee back. I'm currently debating whether or not to even appeal. The whole thing really makes me upset.

    If I do appeal, does anyone have a suggestion on answering those questions? Clearly, I didn't b.s. enough.

    Thanks for letting me rant.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    http://www.planning.org/certification/faq.htm

    Criterion A: Influencing public decision making in the public interest

    Have you, for example:
    • Presented planning proposals before an elected/appointed body such as the city council, planning commission/board, citizens' advisory board, state/federal officials?
    • Worked on a project, in a significant capacity, that was later presented to such a body?
    • Recommended strategies based on research of past/current laws/ordinances or zoning proposals, etc.?

    Criterion B: Employing an appropriately comprehensive point of view

    Have you:
    • Worked on a project, say for downtown development, where you had to review several factors such as: traffic patterns, environmental concerns, economic impact, residential concerns, demographic considerations? or
    • Worked on a project such as a proposed transportation system where considerations such as traffic patterns, highway/rail construction, commercial/residential proximity, pollution concerns, noise abatement, cost projections, community input, etc. were investigated?

    Criterion C: Applying a planning process appropriate to the situation

    Were you directly involved in two or more of the following planning process techniques:
    • Public Opinion Surveys (evaluated community services, needs, and desires)?
    • Technical Interviews (gathered information from community experts)?
    • Inventory and Surveys (land uses, conflicts, traffic patterns, etc.)?
    • Citizens Participation (presented plans, conducted "vision" workshops, prepared plan summary handouts)?
    • Official Representatives Meetings (group or one-on-one meetings with public and private officials)?
    • Draft Plan/Project Review (grassroots/informal feedback from public)?
    • Public Hearings (formal feedback with elected officials and public for project/plan approval)?

    Criterion D: Involving a professional level of responsibility and resourcefulness

    Have you done one or more of the following:
    • Supervised a project?
    • Presented a proposal/plan before a decision making body?
    • Provided significant input in one or more facets of a project (i.e., conducted research, managed staff, given technical expertise in areas such as computer application, strategy development, impact analysis, etc.?


    These are just specific examples that are more likely to count towards the four criteria. You don't need to have rural planning experience to apply for the exam (although it is a policy area that can be asked on the exam). I included environmenal planning work (among other project) in my application, and it was acceptable. I also spent an equal amount of time explaining how the work tied into the larger picture.

    I was not able to submit my application until last July, which was my three year anniversary date. It took 10-11 weeks to receive a GO (instead of the official six week response). I started purchasing study material in July, but I did not start studying for the exam until I received the green light, which was in late August. I wish I had more time, so I made the most of the 2 1/2 months and passed on the first try.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jnewshel View post
    The whole process is ridiculous! I have been an urban planner for 5 years. Rural planning? I live and work in NYC. We don't have rural planning. All of my coworkers are AICP and the planner that works for me was just accepted to take the test. I am also still waiting to get my application fee back. I'm currently debating whether or not to even appeal. The whole thing really makes me upset.

    If I do appeal, does anyone have a suggestion on answering those questions? Clearly, I didn't b.s. enough.
    Well, do you work for the private sector still? These questions can sometimes be a little tricky for private sector/consultants, especially in career fields where you could be constantly doing land use concepts, document writing etc. You could have 5 plus years of planning experience in the private sector, but never once been in front of a decision making body or perform Criteria C as nick described. Remember, the test really is skewed for public planners, not the private sector, so you really have to be careful on how you answer the questions to adequately show you have performed the worked that AICP folks feel you need to have established as a good "planner" base.
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  4. #4
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    Yes, I'm still in the private sector, but work for public clients.

  5. #5
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jnewshel View post
    Yes, I'm still in the private sector, but work for public clients.
    well there you go! You probably just need to adjust your answer C on the application to better link between decision makers and your private sector work. Like the other poster said, the application is written with public sector planners in mind. Do that, and create a better connection between the environmental work you do and how it relates to implementing/contributing to long-range plans should boost your application up a bit.

    I'm surprised they gave you a hard time, especially considering that some planners are jumping off the AICP ship. If you submitted employment verification letters, you might see if you can have your bosses adjust them a bit to hit the individual criteria a little more clearly.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

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    I don't have anything helpful to add other than a "thank you" for posting your frustration, and including painful detail.

    I'm also a private-sector planner and will be following in your footsteps at some point-- I hope successful ones after you appeal. The other posters' suggestions confirm my suspicions about the importance of nuance and writing answers to fit the questions specifically.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Please understand that the staff of APA are largely incompetant, will not put effort into figuring out something that is not obviously stated and placed directly in front of them, and have no regard for serving their membership. They will not make any effort to attempt to understand your experience. When you write your application, you need to make it so obvious that an illiterate person can read what you are saying. I suspect that rather than simply restate the requirements, you provided a thoughtful answer. Wrong! APA staff do not - likely can not think!
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    APA/AICP might be an incompetant, but AICP application staff is simply understaffed. Last year, Evan, one of the main point of contacts for the AICP application, told me that staff reviews several thousand applications every testing period. That is twice a year, and that is all they do. Late last July, I talked with Evan over some education credentials. He quickly browsed over my submitted application over the phone and told me it pretty much met all four requirements. However, it would take several weeks before it was reviewed by the rest of the staff. I received the green light the last week in August. He sounded like he alone had to review all of the applications. I assume the staff might be a handful of people which is why they are backlogged. At least you can talk to someone directly through AICP and they return phone calls within a couple of days. This is far better than USGBC/GBCI which sometimes takes a month to respond to LEED AP questions submitted by e-mail.

    As much as I despised all of the paperwork, employer verifications, and constant waiting, if you play by the rules they will approve your application. Evan was pretty knowledgeable and helpful about the process, so I will give him the benefit of the doubt.

    I think the biggest problem with AICP applicants is that they assume they will be elligible for the exam by virtue of being a planner for so many years. Although you don't need a planning degree (or even a college degree) to apply for the exam (unlike engineering, architecture, landscape architecture, etc.) the planning criteria are still strict. Personally, I think many career fields have some overlap. However, AICP is really the only membership organization that planners have to separate us from the others. Otherwise, architects, engineers, ecologists, surveyors, mapmakers, etc. would clamor to take the exam, much like they are doing with LEED. This is why so much work experience is not counted towards the AICP planning criteria, despite the works' contributions to planning.

    As Raf mentioned on another thread, you really need to pay careful attention to what AICP is asking for, and if you can't think outside of the box, you probably will struggle with the exam. I was very worried that I would not meet Criteria A and D, so I had to think very carefully for a long time to include specific projects that would illustrate those strengths, and I played up that experience. We as planners constantly brag about our problem-solving skills. Well, here is a golden opportunity to do just that

    Hope this helps-
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

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