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Thread: Choosing a school

  1. #1

    Choosing a school

    I'm interested in pursuing a planning degree, with emphasis on "international development", "social, poverty, and housing". I plan, rather wish, to work with international organizations or development companies after I graduate.

    I got admission from

    UPenn
    UNC-CH
    FSU
    VT
    UIUC

    Any candid thoughts will be very much appreciated.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by yerinyeah; 03 Apr 2005 at 1:20 AM.

  2. #2
    Congratulations on your admission to several very fine planning schools. I happen to go to UIUC, and am also interested in international development. I would say though that my chances of success in finding a job in the field will rest more on my accomplishments as a Peace Corps volunteer than on my graduate program. International development is an extremely competitive field, and substantial overseas experience is a prerequisite even for entry-level jobs.

    Aside from MIT, I'm not really impressed by the international development offerings at any planning school. At the same time, I'm not sure how much coursework really matters to employers. A graduate degree is a nice credential, but it's really all about experience. If you are serious about development work, I strongly recommend Peace Corps. It's widely accepted as solid international experience, and there are very few other ways to "try-out" international development as a career.

    Perhaps you have heard that already. So, with respect to your list of schools, I would say forget Penn--it's a design school, really damn expensive, and I think their international courses relate more to physical planning than to poverty alleviation. VT might be a good option if you go to the Arlington campus. You would have the chance to intern in DC at least. UIUC and UNC both have nice study abroad programs, which is good. The number of faculty with interests in Third World development is very low at these schools though.




    Quote Originally posted by yerinyeah
    I'm interested in pursuing a planning degree, with emphasis on "international development", "social, poverty, and conflict issues". I plan, rather wish, to work with international organizations or development companies after I graduate.

    I got admission from

    UPenn
    UNC-CH
    FSU
    VT
    UIUC

    Any candid thoughts will be very much appreciated.

    Thanks!

  3. #3
    Quote Originally posted by Apricot+
    Congratulations on your admission to several very fine planning schools. I happen to go to UIUC, and am also interested in international development. I would say though that my chances of success in finding a job in the field will rest more on my accomplishments as a Peace Corps volunteer than on my graduate program. International development is an extremely competitive field, and substantial overseas experience is a prerequisite even for entry-level jobs.

    Aside from MIT, I'm not really impressed by the international development offerings at any planning school. At the same time, I'm not sure how much coursework really matters to employers. A graduate degree is a nice credential, but it's really all about experience. If you are serious about development work, I strongly recommend Peace Corps. It's widely accepted as solid international experience, and there are very few other ways to "try-out" international development as a career.

    Perhaps you have heard that already. So, with respect to your list of schools, I would say forget Penn--it's a design school, really damn expensive, and I think their international courses relate more to physical planning than to poverty alleviation. VT might be a good option if you go to the Arlington campus. You would have the chance to intern in DC at least. UIUC and UNC both have nice study abroad programs, which is good. The number of faculty with interests in Third World development is very low at these schools though.
    wow thanks for your thoughtful response

    VT's planning dpt is in Blacksburg, not in Arlington.
    Does it make difference?

    and because I'm a novice in the planning field, what do you mean my phisical planning? does it include housing, which I am interested in?

    finally, since I'm not a US citizen, would it be posible for you to let me know the other ways to enter the international scene with urban planning background, other than peace corps?

    thanks again once more!
    Last edited by yerinyeah; 03 Apr 2005 at 1:35 AM.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    There is no international concentration at Penn, to tell you the truth, despite what you may have been told. It exists in name but not in reality.

    The Penn name may carry more weight overseas than the other programs you have been accepted into, if you are looking to go overseas someday.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Hceux's avatar
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    Last weekend, I read an invaluable book entitled "Getting What You Came For: The Smart Student's Guide to Earning a Master's or PhD", written by Robert L. Peters. It is written for students who are thinking attending or those who are actually attending schools in America for their Master's and/or PhD. It outlines what is to be expected as a graduate student, as it is immensely different from being an undergraduate student, what kinds of motivation you should have to go ahead and do a Master's and/or a PhD, and etc. It even provides many different tips how to speed up one's progress of completing the Master's or PhD degree and suggestions how to focus your Master's and/or PhD towards a job that you hope to have.

    There is also a section about how important it to have a good relationship with your thesis advisor, something that I have not thought about.

    Anyways, this book has turned me off from doing a Master's degree right now. Maybe I'll reconsider it in the future...

    Yerinyeah, I know that this doesn't really directly help you with your situation, but I thought maybe some of the discussions in this book would help you in narrowing down your choice of which school to attend. Good luck with your decision.

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