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Thread: Minnesota vs. Cornell

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    Minnesota vs. Cornell

    I'm sorry to load another one of these on here, but can I get some perspectives on the respective planning masters programs at the University of Minnesota and Cornell. I have been accepted to both and need to make a decision asap. It seems Minnesota provides an advantage in terms of location (major metropolitan location) whereas Cornell's is in its reputation and connection possibilities. Let me know what you think!

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    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    Thoughts from a Gopher

    Quote Originally posted by Merlin
    I'm sorry to load another one of these on here, but can I get some perspectives on the respective planning masters programs at the University of Minnesota and Cornell. I have been accepted to both and need to make a decision asap. It seems Minnesota provides an advantage in terms of location (major metropolitan location) whereas Cornell's is in its reputation and connection possibilities. Let me know what you think!
    I think you are about right there about the differences. MN also has very good financial aid (both before and when you get there). And being in the Twin Cities is a good workshop for planning.

    MN's program is getting better all the time- Ann Markusen was a good catch from MIT and the Design Center for the American Landscape (I think I got the name right, its been a while) is a good asset. But Cornell is a better name, still. Not that either name will be a liability if you are hunting for planning jobs- Cornell just has a better network nationally and internationally.

    One other difference- MN is more policy and economics focussed, and I think Cornell is more of a traditional program.

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    Thanks. As for the aid, Cornell is giving me about half, whereas Minn nothing. (Though this just serves to equal out the cost between the two). Can you comment at all on the prevalence of a design focus at either school? Which school offers a "broader" range of opportunities, would you say?

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    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    I only know a wee bit about each school's current program, but I know more of thier reputations. Both are VERY respectable on a resume that crosses my desk. I would have to ask, what do you want to do when you graduate, but I know the answer from 99% of people in you position will change over the next 4 years

    The Cornell assistance is very tempting, but if you can swing it, dont make it a deciding factor. Have you had the opportunity to network with any of their alums?

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    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I will admit up front that I have a bias against the "big name" schools like Cornell. That said, when I considered going on for a PhD, my selection was very quickly narrowed down to Minnesota and Washington, which have the best urban geography programs in the country. Of course, UG is not planning, but it carries a lot of weight in my mind. My choice for planning with a design focus? UW-Milwaukee.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

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    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    Ummm....

    Quote Originally posted by Merlin
    Thanks. As for the aid, Cornell is giving me about half, whereas Minn nothing. (Though this just serves to equal out the cost between the two). Can you comment at all on the prevalence of a design focus at either school? Which school offers a "broader" range of opportunities, would you say?
    I think the aid is very tempting. I don't know about opportunities at Cornell once you are there but I know that 90% of the people I went to school with ended up getting some or all tuition reimbursement via assistantships, etc., whether or not they arrived on campus with an aid package.

    You should consider contacting MN and telling them about the aid package from Cornell to see if they will sweeten the pot- that sometimes works.

    In terms of design, MN was weak on it when I was there. My understanding is that the revamping of the planning program about 8 years ago changed that some, and that the program has tried very hard to strengthen that element since I was there. As for Cornell, I just don't know for sure so I won't guess.

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    One more decision...

    Thanks, everyone. That advice is helpful. I would just like to hear your opinion on one other thing. I also have to decide whether to defer my admission for a year, to work hopefully and gain some experience. The problem is, I have no actual planning experience and my undergrad degree is in Government - with no real planning education. Would it be worthwile to try and take a year, or would whatever I found likely be unhelpful?

  8. #8
    I was in your exact situation last year. I applied and got into several schools, but decided to defer admission for a year to gain some planning experience. I have really enjoyed taking time out to work--although I've made very little money, I've gained a lot of perspective on planning and now have a MUCH clearer picture of what I want to do with my grad school education.

    I would really encourage you to consider taking time out to gain whatever experience you can. I know I've been really glad that I made that decision. But not all schools will allow you to defer, so keep that in mind.

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