Urban planning community | #theplannerlife

Poll results: Which do you agree with?

30. You may not vote on this poll
  • Going to school somewhere with a dynamic planning environment external to the school is a good idea.

    22 73.33%
  • The school is of primary importance; the external setting isn't big factor in quality of education.

    8 26.67%
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Thread: Better to study in a big city?

  1. #1
    Dec 2004
    Asheville, NC

    Better to study in a big city?

    Hi everybody,

    I am in the early stages of planning for grad school, and one of the choices I'm confronting is what kind of environment to study in. Is it better to study in a big city, with large-scale planning going on, or can you get just as much from a well-designed program in a more traditional college town? For example, I'm particularly interested in attending Portland State, not because of anything about the school itself but because I think Portland would be an awesome "laboratory" in which to study this field.

    On the other hand, UVa. looks like a good program, and I certainly wouldn't object to living in Charlottesville. I did my undergrad in a typically idyllic college-town setting, and I loved it - but is there a lot to be gained by studying planning in a real city instead?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
    Dec 2001
    West Valley, AZ
    Choose a school that can give you the best of both. Quality Program and accesibility to good planning. Also, accessibility to multiple internships is a huge thing to think about. My former college was located close enough to Chicago that I could commute reasonably to many low paying internships. Decent paying internships didn't seem to exist 6 years ago.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian DCBuff's avatar
    May 2005
    NW of a swamp called DC
    I think it is very important to be in a city with good planning so you can see first hand how different things work. Portland would be a place where you could visit examples of projects you have read about and see how they grow. I think a bigger city provides you with more projects to visit and a greater range of issues. I attended the University of Colorado at Boulder ( for undergrad) and Denver (Grad). Both were great cities to study different trends in planning and they were very close to one another, but both provided completely different topic of study. Boulder was a town-gown city with deep growth magement, open space, and new age planning ideas. Denver was your big city with great redevelopment and reuse projects. I think Boiker made a good point about "accessibility to multiple internships is a huge thing to think about." The Denver area has a great number planning internship opitions, because the number city and firms in the area. I would say that you should not go to the same school for both undergrad and graduate school (live and learn). Good luck!

  4. #4
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
    May 2005
    The Fox Valley
    Blog entries
    Yeah, I 2nd what boiker said. DeKalb is the best of both worlds. Anyplace where you're within an hour of the city/burbs and an hour from the country, is a good place. And make sure it has an excellent program, where you can at least concentrate on quality planning-related courses, even if a "Planning" degree is not available.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

  5. #5
    Mar 2005
    Vancouver, Canada
    The planning school I attended was not, shall we say, super-dooper. What it did do was get me in the door for an internship. Apologies to planning theory and history buffs, but in this profession, the best education is "on the job." As you've heard already, choose somewhere with a myriad of internship opportunities - big city, small town, suburb, regional commission, private firms, etc.

  6. #6
    Remember that Portland is almost an aberration -- it's certainly not the norm in the other 49 states, that's for sure. (And that is by no means a slam against one of my favorite places...)

    I agree with boiker and the others -- try for the best of both worlds. After a few years, your alma mater won't make that much difference -- you're real world experience will.
    Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.
    Abraham Lincoln

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