I'm a few months out of my undergraduate studies at the University of WI - Milwaukee where I got a BA in French and Sociology, a minor in Economics, and a certificate in Urban planning (no Bachelor's program available). I currently work in market research in Chicago (with my French degree) and I'm looking at going back to school to get my Master's in Urban Planning (or similar) in Fall 2014.
So since most of the application deadlines would be in late Fall 2013, I'm wondering: what should I be doing now to prepare? As it is, I try to get involved in local opportunities that have to do with urban planning and "community organizing." An example is the participatory budgeting process new to some aldermanic wards here in Chicago. I also write a blog about local issues but I'm not sure if that is really a plus all the time.
Has anyone else done anything that they feel strengthened their applications to a graduate program? I know I'm thinking early, I don't even know exactly where I want to apply – I was looking at Berkeley and Rutger's, and of course UIC here in Chicago, as well as some schools abroad. My primary interest is transportation planning.
Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer!