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Thread: Where Do I Start????

  1. #1
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    Where Do I Start????

    I graduated from Cal State Los Angeles in 2006 with a BA in Liberal Studies. My GPA was not spectacular actually it was pretty dismal 2.98. I am now working as a compliance inspector for CSA, a top certification body in the United States and Canada. Of the most interesting and important topics touched during my Bachelors was architecture and its influences on the social and economic portions of the city. Now, while working as an inspector I have been able to travel and really identify the defining lines of cities and regions through higways, urbanizations, business parks and other aspects. I have come to the crude reality that I just may end up going to school to become a planner. Why crude? Well because my sister is in the process of completing her masters in Urban Planning. In end, I guess it might be in the genes. Anyway I am starting to look into many schools that offer Urban Planning programs. I will be taking the GRE in the next couple of months and hope to begin applying towards the end of the year. Now seems like a good time to get feedback from you all on what process I should follow to better my chances at getting into a good Urban Planning school seeing as how my GPA is not very high and I am not specifically involved in a planning profession at the moment. Your feedback and advise will be read thoroughly and put into use...thank you all!!!!!!If anyone would liek to add me to their messenger feel free it is bpsp12@hotmail.com.

  2. #2

    Don't let your GPA limit you

    You needn't get into a prestigious Urban planning school to become an urban planner. Your degree will be urban planning, the same as someone who went to Harvard or MIT or whatever. If a company or jurisdiction will be shallow enough to choose you based on the school you received your degree at, you don't want to work for them anyway. Good luck on whatever you decide.

    $.02 from a Professional Civil engineer who graduated from a slightly-above average small undergraduate engineering school with a 2.3 GPA in the midwest.
    Who's gonna re-invent the wheel today?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ssnyderjr View post
    If a company or jurisdiction will be shallow enough to choose you based on the school you received your degree at, you don't want to work for them anyway.
    I'm glad you said this. I've noticed in the Student Lounge there is so much discussion about how to get into a "good" graduate program. This is something that never concerned me. I don't even have my Masters yet, and it will be in geography from a small school, not known for producing good planners, that I chose because I could commute there from the apartment I had at the time, in my hometown. But it doesn't matter. I've managed a pretty good career for myself, where state and regional leaders tell me they've "heard good things about me", I'm AICP, and I think I'm setting myself up for good things.

    What matters is that you get some kind of planning degree, from anywhere, and start at a ground-floor job where you are exposed to lots of aspects of planning, and work your way up from there, possibly becoming AICP along the way. Maybe I'm in the minority, but I think how you build your career is way more important than where you went to school.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian RubberStamp Man's avatar
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    I agree with the others.

    All schools accredited by AICP need to meet minimum standards, so if you apply for such a program I would consider it a "good" planning school. Where you may want to think about differentiating will be in schools with programs that offer a concentration in a certain aspect of planning, whether its land economics, design, environmental, social, etc. A lot of times its not even the program that will provide a specialty, but opportunities to take courses in another deptartment, such as architecture. Also look at what the faculty have in terms of education, their interests and what they have published recently (last 5 years) to give a good sense on where their interests lie.

    Think about what you like about planning and look for a program that trys to cater to those interests. But really, what you get out of a program is what you put into it.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian njm's avatar
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    That you're already thinking about it is the first step to success. I am in the process of finishing up a little over one year's worth of researching, visiting, and hand-wringing... had I not though ahead, the task would have been even more brutal.

    I'd guess that a lot of schools have a minimum GPA to satisfy some administrator rather than to eliminate potential candidates--if you can make a good case, they'll probably look at you.

    One possibility might be to take a few classes at a community college. The ideal situation would be to spend some extra time on these courses and get good grades to prove that you're a viable candidate. An even better idea would be to look at the list of 'typical' prerequisites for MCRP courses at the schools you like, and take any of those (courses) you might be missing. Good grades AND initiative could earn you DOUBLE bonus points.

    Other than that, start your essay early. I think that nearly everyone underestimates the amount of time it takes to complete this. I personally remember thinking "pffft. I can whip that out in a weekend." I am VERY glad I started my applications quite early because it took me closer to 3-4 weeks to finish the first letter, and the later ones are not particularly quicker 'cause every school is looking for a slightly different angle.

    GOOD LUCK!
    What luck! A random assemblage of words never sounded less intelligent.

  6. #6
    ... But it doesn't matter. I've managed a pretty good career for myself, where state and regional leaders tell me they've "heard good things about me", I'm AICP, and I think I'm setting myself up for good things. ...
    I'm just wondering, what do you do , or how do you approach your job such that you've set up a good career and also manage to have people hearing good things about you?

    Any practical advice?

  7. #7
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gkorstad Staegenheim View post
    I'm just wondering, what do you do , or how do you approach your job such that you've set up a good career and also manage to have people hearing good things about you?

    Any practical advice?
    Well, I volunteer to work on a lot of different projects, sometimes heading them up (like writing a model ordinance for wind farms, writing our ag preservation plan, facilitated all the visioning sessions for our comp plan, and now I've volunteered to make a proposal for how to get a county purchase of development rights program off the ground, for instance). I guess I'm always courteous and knowledgable when I talk to the higher-ups, and when I talk to "joe public". I've been told I'm a pretty good public speaker, even though I absolutely dreaded doing it in college. Fact is, I got my b.s. with only a 2.6 gpa, and I wasn't a stand-out student at all. I just did barely what I had to do to pass, and skipped a ton of classes. But, since building my career I've gotten a lot more interested in planning, and I work a lot harder than I ever did in school.

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