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Thread: Should I apply now...or get experience in the field for better funding?

  1. #1
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    Should I apply now...or get experience in the field for better funding?

    I'm strongly considering applying for graduate programs for Fall 2007 entrance. My GPA is about a 3.0--I have great professional experience, but unfortunately not in any way related to planning. I've noticed in the student forum that many people received half/3/4/ or even full tuition paid.

    Here's my question: Should I apply now even though I have no experience in planning, or should I try to get a job in planning, work a few years, and then apply?? Will it even really make a difference, or is financial aid mainly determined by GPA and GRE's (which obviously won't change no matter how much experience in planning I have)??

    I'm poor; I live in California, but I want to go east for grad school..so that means, out of state tuition. The lowest tuition for a school that I would actually want to attend is Rutgers...

    Help!!

  2. #2
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    You don't need a couple years experience...

    I worked for 2 years after undergrad in a job that was tangentially related to planning (or I made it that way...) then interned in the planning office in the jurisdiction of my first choice school. I got a great recommendation from someone that the school's planning department was sure to know. It worked, got money. (hey, planning is politics!) Oh and undergrad was 3.4 gpa, sociology.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally posted by astoy
    I'm strongly considering applying for graduate programs for Fall 2007 entrance. My GPA is about a 3.0--I have great professional experience, but unfortunately not in any way related to planning. I've noticed in the student forum that many people received half/3/4/ or even full tuition paid.

    Here's my question: Should I apply now even though I have no experience in planning, or should I try to get a job in planning, work a few years, and then apply?? Will it even really make a difference, or is financial aid mainly determined by GPA and GRE's (which obviously won't change no matter how much experience in planning I have)??

    I'm poor; I live in California, but I want to go east for grad school..so that means, out of state tuition. The lowest tuition for a school that I would actually want to attend is Rutgers...

    Help!!
    RE: Fin Aid. Many schools give Need-based Financial Aid (like Harvard, where I am going this fall). For those schools, it makes sense to be as poor as possible when applying. that means going straight from undergrad is advantageous, since you probably have no income as an undergrad. conversely, going into the program after work experience means that the income from the previous year counts AGAINST your financial aid eligibility.

    That was my thought and why I went right away.

    Of course plenty of schools offer merit scholarships, in which the timing of your application doesnt matter.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    Go to a program that allows you to work a GRA or some other type of internship while you are going to school. That was you get both.
    Satellite City Enabler

  5. #5
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Nearly everyone qualifies for loans....

    Merit based funding is a little different.

    1. Pay attention to the application deadline to be considered for Merit Based aid. Most schools are January 15, but some are earlier and some are later.

    2. Pay attention if additional paperwork needs to be submitted for Merit Based aid.

    3. Merit based aid is not only based on the work you have done before but on the potential the program thinks you have. This comes through your letter of intent, letters of rec, and application. Remember that program is interested in making you successful enough to get their name out and have a return on their investment via the alumni network/fundraising.

    4. The financial climate of the university and the program itself determines how many merit awards can be funded. Stong alumni presence, number of research institutes at a program are a couple of indicators.

    5. Don't expect to be fully funded. Full time GRA's and TA's are hard to come by even in a well funded program and are super competitive. You might not get one the first year but you have a lot better chance the second year since they will have known you for a year. Investigate the types of merit awards given out, some are partial tuition remissions and fellowships (allowance w/o work).

    6. Merit funding awards are not always decided when admission to the program is. There is often a delay and it varies widely between schools. Often times a program will wait to see how many people commit to the progam from the first round of admissions and then begin to sort out funding.

    7. Politick. Yes politick, if you definitely know where you are going and are committed to going there start communicating with people in the program. Figure out who is in charge of funding and make sure they know you and your committment. Don't be a pest though. Visit the school if possible and talk to everyone you can to a) make sure it's right for you b) you aren't wasting your time or the program's time.

    Good luck, have patience, don't panic, and relax. It will come together in the end.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  6. #6
    Cyburbian fructa's avatar
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    chill.

    You must chill. I have hidden your keys. Chill.

    <grin> You don't need experience. I'm one of the applicants from last year. I got in all but 2 schools I applied to (MIT / Portland), was fully funded at 1(UIUC) and 3/4 at another (UMich) -- and I have NO EXPERIENCE in planning. Heck, my undergrad majors were philosophy and theater. I worked in theater for 5 years after undergrad. When I started thinking about grad school it was about going for a law degree, then a philosophy phd, then an evironmental engineering 2nd bachelor's... and then an admissions rep mentioned urban planning, which I didn't know existed, and it sounded like exactly what I'd been looking for. (I did not tell this part of the story in my personal statement.) Write a good narrative explanation of how you got from where you were to a point where you want to do urban planning. Do well on the GRE. Talk to people. You'll do fine. Write it well enough and play the funding game after you've been admitted ("Well, your school is really my first choice, but this other place gave me full funding...") -- it works. Really.

    Best of luck and don't stress out too much!

  7. #7
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    Funding

    Penn told me that they award merit-based scholarships solely on the basis of GRE scores, but I don't know what criteria the other schools used.

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