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Thread: Portland State University VS. USC

  1. #1
         
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    Portland State University VS. USC

    In deciding which Masters Program to attend come this fall, the decision will be made between PSU and USC. I have visited the programs and I have gotten completely different vibes about them, as they are completely different programs located in completely different environments. Portland seems to offer an innovative & progressive course of study that appears to be very socially concious and idealistic, which is exactly what I am looking for. However, I'm just not sure whether a degree that consists of a lot of sociological focused courses will equate to a low employment demand in the real world. And I'm just not sure whether the prestige, career resources, networking potential and opportunities are comparable to USC (but of course this difference is seen in USC's tuition). If I will be looking to work outside of the west coast, and eventually internationally, will one program put me in a worse position than the other? Will the large difference in USC's tuition be worth it in the end?

    I am looking to focus on local econ development, revitalization, redevelopment, community development, etc. Any advice, information, or even conceptions regarding the programs would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Speaking for myself (economic developer focused on revitalization and redevelopment), I would be very interested in a graduate of PSU, and somewhat ambivilent about USC. Portland State's reputation as a school very involved in its community (much like the UW-Milwaukee) is an appealing aspect of the program.
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    I am also trying to decide between the Master's Program at Portland State and a more prestigious (and more expensive) school. Along with alxwyt, I welcome any advice and information on PSU. What is the perception of a degree from Portland State compared to a similar degree from a more well-known university?

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    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by drewford
    I am also trying to decide between the Master's Program at Portland State and a more prestigious (and more expensive) school. Along with alxwyt, I welcome any advice and information on PSU. What is the perception of a degree from Portland State compared to a similar degree from a more well-known university?
    I really don't care a bit about the reputation of the university. I care about the department. Even a "prestigious" university is going to have some average departments, and some that are worthless.
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    USC has a really good program in real estate (top two or three in the country), and it's possible to earn a joint real estate/planning degree in two years. In the long term, this may make a big difference to your breadth of career prospects and salary potential.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Psu

    Since you don't seem interested in U. of Colorado, I'd go with PSU.

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    PSU Baby!

    I got accepted at PSU and just went to visit over the weekend to check it out. Portland is quite an amazing town. Transportation is great! Environmental awareness (green design/building etc.) is at the forefront there. It was pretty inspiring.

    I was also impressed by the School of Urban Planning. The dept. is in the new (2000) Colllege of Urban and Public Affairs building which is probably the best and most beautiful building on campus. The MAX light rail goes right through the building! The urban planning program seems like one of the most well funded in the university.

    Portland is also a very affordable town (especially compared to the Bay Area). You can get like a 2 bedroom apartment farther out but in a nice neighborhood for $600-700 or one bedroom downtown for that price. Oh and you don't need no car!

    See you at PSU maybe.

    Jon

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    Thanx for the advice guys. But lastly, what can be said about USC's Planning program? I know it's been "ranked" third in the country, whatever that means, but what type of education will I receive? Any alumni out there?

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Dharmster's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by alxwyt
    Thanx for the advice guys. But lastly, what can be said about USC's Planning program? I know it's been "ranked" third in the country, whatever that means, but what type of education will I receive? Any alumni out there?
    U$C has long had one of the better planning programs in the country (along with Berkeley and UCLA one could argue CA has three out of the five best in the country). They have a large department that and two WELL endowed research centers focusing on Real Estate (Lusk Center ) and transportation (METRANS ).

    I must caution anyone getting a planning degree against taking on excessive debt. However, if Southern California is where you want to live then you should strongly consider U$C as graduating from a school within the state is pretty important if you want to get a job as a newly minted graduate.

  10. #10
         
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    Thanx Dharmster-

    Yes the tuition rate is pretty scary! I don't necessarily want to end up in Los Angeles but am looking for a program that will leave with anumber of options to apply my education to. USC requires participation in international workshops, has a number of research centers, networking resources, and a lot more blah that I am trying to equate to tuition justification.

    Anyhow, if I leave L.A. in search of work say on the east coast, do you think the degree (and the associated education) fail to be distinguished from other programs? I'm leaning towards the negative! Can anyone give me some input regarding the benefits of a pre$$$$$$$$tigious program that may justify the debt? Thanx so much!!

  11. #11
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Sounds like your looking for a reason to attend USC?

    See title above....

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Dharmster's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by alxwyt
    Thanx Dharmster-

    Anyhow, if I leave L.A. in search of work say on the east coast, do you think the degree (and the associated education) fail to be distinguished from other programs? I'm leaning towards the negative! Can anyone give me some input regarding the benefits of a pre$$$$$$$$tigious program that may justify the debt? Thanx so much!!
    I think a USC certainly has more name recognition, especially if you stray from field of urban planning/urban studies (where people know PSU is a good school).

    Having said that your profile says you are in Boston. If you wanted to stay on the East Coast why didn't you apply to any schools on the East Coast? There are many fine schools with tuitions less than USC.

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    Psu

    Hey Man-

    I'm off to PSU like yourself. I'm pretty excited about everything the Program, city, and lifestyle have to offer (except the rain). I must admit though that I am a bit worried about what 8 months of rain may relate to in turns of depression though!!!

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by alxwyt
    Hey Man-

    I'm off to PSU like yourself. I'm pretty excited about everything the Program, city, and lifestyle have to offer (except the rain). I must admit though that I am a bit worried about what 8 months of rain may relate to in turns of depression though!!!
    Congratulations! I have been very impressed by what I see coming out of PSU, so you have made a good choice. As far as the weather goes, remember that the rain does not make it very far inland. Once you get past the Dalles you are in the desert, and can get a good dose of sun pretty easily. Do it! Sunlight will improve your physical and mental health.
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    Quote Originally posted by alxwyt

    I am looking to focus on local econ development, revitalization, redevelopment, community development, etc. Any advice, information, or even conceptions regarding the programs would be greatly appreciated.
    My advice to anyone entering graduate school is to thoroughly investigate not only the schoolís academic courses and their focus, its location, etc., as you have already stated, but also the following:

    1. Ask the prospective planning program for the names and contact information of two or three recent graduates of the program. I wished I would have done this. I would want to know studentís experience with the availability of required courses to complete their degree program or specialization. In other words, what is the stability of the program? Is program enrollment adequate to conduct a required course when it is scheduled? Classes are often dropped on short notice just before or just after the start of a new term if there are not enough students enrolled. That magic number may be different at each university.

    2. Are professors available between semesters to critique draft thesis items? Letís face it, a studentís ďfree timeĒ my revolve around semester breaks. My experience in grad school was the professors in my grad program were not available to me when school was not in session. This was troubling and frustrating as I did not know this until I had already started the program. Because my planning program had this policy it made scheduling appointments with my thesis committee during the end of each term. They were busy with final exams, theses defenses, etc.

    3. Ask your prospective planning program for statistics of job placement by program graduates. Are students that leave the program getting hired? However, I doubt a graduate at either PSU or USC will have any problem finding employment.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian FueledByRamen's avatar
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    hey, I hope some people can answer this for me:

    Would PSU be a good fit for me based on ths following?

    I live in Austin. I love it. Its the best place Ive ever lived. I am, however, ready to go somewhere else for a while. I am almost 100% that I want to go to grad school for Planning/Transporation. I have another year and an internship this summer to figure out the specifics. Right now my GPA at UT Austin is a 2.9 (freaking first year in engineering ) but I am doing an honors thesis (my dept. GPA is better) and have just been granted an internship with the city of Austin. What are my chances of getting into PSU based on what you just read?

    I am going to Portland some time this summer to check everything out, but what is the vibe of the city compared with Austin? Anything else? Ill post more Q's when I have them.

    Adam

  17. #17
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Ramen, don't worry about your first year if things progress for the better. I had less than a 2.0 my first two years, and I made it ... to Dodge City.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally posted by The One
    Since you don't seem interested in U. of Colorado, I'd go with PSU.
    Ditto from a UCD Grad.
    Why pay more for essentially the same degree.

    One answer to GPA issues / or length of time out of school is to have superior Letters of Recommendation.
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  19. #19
         
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    Psu

    Hey Jon-

    Just wanted to make sure my e-mail went through, only because I've been having trouble with it... Thanx-

    alex

    alxwyt@hotmail.com

  20. #20
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    This thread is old, but I want to offer my 2 cents for this b/c is moved to Portland in 1987 and saw this whole town transform and mutate into an incredible case study.

    Examples: The current Mayor once wanted to erect city blocks to cover a freeway. Interstate-5 was literally moved to make way for a downtown waterfront park. Hong Kong style towers are moving into a quiet white-collar neighborhood. Voters said YES to Lightrail, but vote NO, and then YES again. 1995-built homes are single-level with a big yard, but 1997 homes are often 2-level with no yard whatsoever. Dense subdivisions sit adjacent to farmland where you can't build a home unless you farm on it, even though Lightrail service is nearby. Portland's Transportation Agency called Metro used its increased funding to buy up land.

    Portland State offers a solid education esp for those who favor sustainability models, but the real deal- the RED MEAT of your urban planning education will come from what's going on in the Portland area because it is changing very quickly. THIS IS A CITY TO LEARN FROM.

    FYI: ...and a city to party. 20 & 30-somethings galore. Magazines compare PDX to the likes of NYC and Chicago in terms of night life amenities. Hope this helps any and all!

  21. #21
    Member japrovo's avatar
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    just a couple of points

    I can't argue with your ultimate conclusions (this is a city to learn from) but your post had a few points it might be worth clearing up.


    Quote Originally posted by nyawker
    Interstate-5 was literally moved to make way for a downtown waterfront park.
    Harbor Drive, a major arterial not an interstate, was removed to make way for a waterfront park in the city's downtown, on the west side of the Willamette River. I-5 is on the eastern side, and though there has been much discussion of a realignment to create more access on that side of the river, it hasn't happened yet. There was a proposal for a major highway downtown that was "derailed" in favor of making the initial investments in light rail at the end of the 70s.


    Quote Originally posted by nyawker
    Voters said YES to Lightrail, but vote NO, and then YES again.
    Just guessing, but I think you're thinking of the new Interstate light rail line (named not because it travels across state lines but because it parallels an arterial that does) which opened in May months ahead of schedule. It was originally part of a proposal including Portland and some suburban jurisdictions. It passed in the city and failed in the suburbs. The city portion was revived and funded through an urban renewal district, which, if I'm not mistaken, didn't require a public vote.

    Quote Originally posted by nyawker
    Portland's Transportation Agency called Metro used its increased funding to buy up land.
    Metro is the elected regional government, Tri-Met is the independent regional transportation agency, and the Portland Department of Transportation is Portland's Transportation agency. Metro's only land purchases come through a "green bond" passed by the voters a number of years ago for the purchase of open spaces and natural habitat. I don't know of a transit agency buying up land. There was a partnership with a private developer who got land to develop as an office park near the airport. In turn that developer helped fund an extension of TriMet's light rail system to the airport.

  22. #22
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    Portland

    hi,

    I recently graduated from Reed College in Portland, OR...right now I'm on an English teaching Fulbright in South Korea...I got a B.A. in English from Reed but sometime during my Junior or Senior year I started getting really interested in Urban Planning and now I'm pretty positive that's what I want to do next...I'll be applying to PSU and GaTech next winter, when I'm back in the States.

    Just wanted to say as a person who spent four years in Portland (even though I didn't have much free time and so couldn't explore it as much as I wanted to) it's really a wonderful city. And very interesting...even before I realized I wanted to go into Urban Planning, Portland was really intriguing to me because of it's sort of rural/urban feel (Reed's located in Southeast Portland, near the Eastmoreland and Woodstock neighborhoods, the former which is very fancy and the latter, just up the street, consists of old ranch houses surrounded by unpaved roads). And the public transportation is great. And housing is cheap (though the unemployment rate is pretty high). If you like coffeeshops, cheap beer, good beer (pabst is chic and the microbrews are the best), independent music and movies...

    As for the weather...I guess you get used to it, and it's not quite as bad as it sounds. The summers are dry and warm, really nice, and the sort of summer weather often lasts well into october. In April or May it gets sunny, with occasional showers. Anyway, all the water results in beautiful greenery all year round.

    I didn't really realize how reputed PSU was until I started thinking about taking some classes there next fall, and being pretty heavily in debt from attending Reed, it's starting to look even nicer...

  23. #23
    Cyburbian silentvoice's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by alxwyt

    Anyhow, if I leave L.A. in search of work say on the east coast, do you think the degree (and the associated education) fail to be distinguished from other programs? I'm leaning towards the negative! Can anyone give me some input regarding the benefits of a pre$$$$$$$$tigious program that may justify the debt? Thanx so much!!
    This post is old, I just realized it. Anyway, there are tons of ivy univ in the east. I would say prestige is impt if you're going outside the US for work.
    Last edited by silentvoice; 03 Dec 2004 at 10:46 PM.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by alxwyt
    I must admit though that I am a bit worried about what 8 months of rain may relate to in turns of depression though!!!
    I got my undergrad there. I wouldn't say Portland is rainy. It rained less there than it does at home (Alaska) and my impression was more that every few days, it lightly mists for a few minutes before the sun comes out again and everyone walks out of their houses and talks about how tough they are to withstand all the oppressive rain. yeesh. It's rainy maybe if you're coming from Tucson or Dallas or Vegas.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian FueledByRamen's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JusticeZero
    I got my undergrad there. I wouldn't say Portland is rainy. It rained less there than it does at home (Alaska) and my impression was more that every few days, it lightly mists for a few minutes before the sun comes out again and everyone walks out of their houses and talks about how tough they are to withstand all the oppressive rain. yeesh. It's rainy maybe if you're coming from Tucson or Dallas or Vegas.
    Not to be a geography dork (but I am)...I wouldnt put Dallas in the same rainfall category as Tucson and Vegas. Amarillo and Lubbock fall more along those lines with less than 20" of rain a year (and it all comes down on one day)

    anyway, back to work.

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