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Thread: Urban Planning Grad School Help

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    Urban Planning Grad School Help

    I have just recently gotten into to a number of urban planning masters programs including UPenn, Cornell, Columbia, Rutgers, UNC, and UMaryland. I'm interested in Land Use/sustainable cities with an international focus, but have a side interest in Historic Preservation. Anyone have advice on which school is the best for those topics, and might lead to the best possible job after school?

    Moderator note:
    As the thread primarily involves education, I moved it to the Student Lounge -- you'll get a lot more traffic for it here.

    Carry on.
    -Gedunker
    Last edited by Gedunker; 13 Mar 2007 at 12:03 PM.

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    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Ahhhh.....

    An ivy league education to get a feel good social sciences job that pay's $40,000 a year??? I suppose this statement sums up what my advice would be......(either that or I'm just jealous that you can afford to go to a school like that, not to mention get accepted )
    Skilled Adoxographer

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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by jlc221 View post
    I have just recently gotten into to a number of urban planning masters programs including UPenn, Cornell, Columbia, Rutgers, UNC, and UMaryland. I'm interested in Land Use/sustainable cities with an international focus, but have a side interest in Historic Preservation. Anyone have advice on which school is the best for those topics, and might lead to the best possible job after school?

    Moderator note:
    As the thread primarily involves education, I moved it to the Student Lounge -- you'll get a lot more traffic for it here.

    Carry on.
    -Gedunker
    I am not familiar with the programs you mentioned and thus I can't comment on those particularly programs. I, however share you interests and would love to hear people's opinions on the best place to go to study "sustainable cities" or "smart growth." Possibly a concept that should be narrowed down a bit first...

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    i go to UNC. i think land use/sustainability is definitely a strength of the program, but i wouldn't say that we get much of an international perspective on it. we get some, for sure, but the land use concentration is rather u.s.-centric. i think the economic development concentration is probably the one with the greatest international emphasis. while not my area of expertise, i have heard good things from students interested in historic preservation. if you come to our open house, you can talk to prof. tom campanella or lecturer myrick howard (or students, of course!)

    i'm going into the land use and sustainability field professionally and i'm very glad i went to UNC. of the schools you listed, i also applied and was accepted to penn and maryland. penn offered me some money, but i am not convinced that a planning degree is worth too much debt (it's not like a business or law degree, let's face it). did UNC offer you money? i had my tuition paid for the first year and got to pay in-state tuition for my second year. that, coupled with a top planning education, makes it pretty hard to beat, in my opinion.

    as far as jobs go, all of the schools you listed have pretty good reputations in the field (UNC, Penn, Rutgers, and Cornell probably more so than the other two), so i wouldn't worry too much job-wise. the only consideration might be that some schools will naturally have more job connections in their geographic region than in others, but they've all got alums across the country. my peers have job interviews lined up in places like san francisco, d.c., philadelphia, etc., so it shouldn't be too much of a concern.

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    Cyburbian
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    by the way, i would take a minute (or a few hours, realistically) to go through old threads in this forum. these questions have come up many times over the past few years and i think you'll find many responses relevant to your query.

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    I haven't received any of my financial aid letters yet so I don't know what anyone is going to give me. That will probably be a large factor in my decision. I am coming to the UNC open house next week, so that should be helpful.

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    Quote Originally posted by jlc221 View post
    I have just recently gotten into to a number of urban planning masters programs including UPenn, Cornell, Columbia, Rutgers, UNC, and UMaryland. I'm interested in Land Use/sustainable cities with an international focus, but have a side interest in Historic Preservation. Anyone have advice on which school is the best for those topics, and might lead to the best possible job after school?

    Moderator note:
    As the thread primarily involves education, I moved it to the Student Lounge -- you'll get a lot more traffic for it here.

    Carry on.
    -Gedunker
    Congrats on the acceptances, jlc221! Although I don't know first-hand, I have heard that Columbia has a strong Historic Preservation program. Would you share when you heard from them?

    In terms of finding jobs, it might help to talk to former/current students to see where they or their classmates have ended up, if you haven't already. I've also heard its advantageous to attend a school in the area where one wants to work, because of natural connections made through jobs/internships and local class projects (although having focused/professional school work, being a strong interviewee or attending a top school mitigates that). Of course, it depends on what type of work you plan on pursuing after earning the degree.

    good luck on choosing the best fit.

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    Quote Originally posted by tuleelk View post
    Congrats on the acceptances, jlc221! Although I don't know first-hand, I have heard that Columbia has a strong Historic Preservation program. Would you share when you heard from them?

    In terms of finding jobs, it might help to talk to former/current students to see where they or their classmates have ended up, if you haven't already. I've also heard its advantageous to attend a school in the area where one wants to work, because of natural connections made through jobs/internships and local class projects (although having focused/professional school work, being a strong interviewee or attending a top school mitigates that). Of course, it depends on what type of work you plan on pursuing after earning the degree.

    good luck on choosing the best fit.
    I'm sorry, I was rattling off the schools I got into and I said Columbia by accident. I haven't heard from them yet either. Still waiting for them and Harvard, though neither is my first choice I think.

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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by jlc221 View post
    I haven't received any of my financial aid letters yet so I don't know what anyone is going to give me. That will probably be a large factor in my decision. I am coming to the UNC open house next week, so that should be helpful.
    JLC, please let us know what you think of the UNC open house. I would really love to attend, as well, but can't due to work and school obligations, as well as the cost of flying down to NC.

    By the way, it seems that the schools we applied to overlap - I applied and am deciding b/w Cornell, UNC and Rutgers.

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    Quote Originally posted by ebina49 View post
    JLC, please let us know what you think of the UNC open house. I would really love to attend, as well, but can't due to work and school obligations, as well as the cost of flying down to NC.

    By the way, it seems that the schools we applied to overlap - I applied and am deciding b/w Cornell, UNC and Rutgers.
    Sure Ebina,
    The place is small, but everyone seemed really friendly. All the students seemed pretty happy there, though most thought the core courses weren't the strongest. A few of us got the impression that the students/internships seemed very North Carolina centric even though they insisted that people scatter after the program is over. Do you have specific questions? They provided a lot of info.

    Are you going to the Cornell open house? Trying to decide if I can make it.

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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by jlc221 View post
    Sure Ebina,
    The place is small, but everyone seemed really friendly. All the students seemed pretty happy there, though most thought the core courses weren't the strongest. A few of us got the impression that the students/internships seemed very North Carolina centric even though they insisted that people scatter after the program is over. Do you have specific questions? They provided a lot of info.

    Are you going to the Cornell open house? Trying to decide if I can make it.
    JLC,

    I can't make the 3/30 open house, but I am going to try to arrange things so I can drive to Ithaca the following week in order to speak with faculty/students and sit in on a class. I'm hoping to have all my financial offers on the table by that point so I can really compare what is feasible.

    As far as UNC goes, one of the things that has very much concerned me thus far during the process is that I haven't heard anything about assistance - I imagine that can't be a good sign because I think one round of offers have already went out...

    I was wondering about your impressions regarding the student community - are most of them straight out of undergrad or older with planning experience in the field? Did you get a sense for the concentrations that were both popular among the students and had the most faculty support/interest?

    Did they mention anything about opportunities to work within the community on projects? Are the faculty active in the community?

    Finally, what did you think of the surrounding area? I've heard a lot about Chapel Hill, but I have never been there. Are there interesting "planning case studies" in the area?

    Thanks!

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    Quote Originally posted by ebina49 View post
    JLC,

    I can't make the 3/30 open house, but I am going to try to arrange things so I can drive to Ithaca the following week in order to speak with faculty/students and sit in on a class. I'm hoping to have all my financial offers on the table by that point so I can really compare what is feasible.

    As far as UNC goes, one of the things that has very much concerned me thus far during the process is that I haven't heard anything about assistance - I imagine that can't be a good sign because I think one round of offers have already went out...

    I was wondering about your impressions regarding the student community - are most of them straight out of undergrad or older with planning experience in the field? Did you get a sense for the concentrations that were both popular among the students and had the most faculty support/interest?

    Did they mention anything about opportunities to work within the community on projects? Are the faculty active in the community?

    Finally, what did you think of the surrounding area? I've heard a lot about Chapel Hill, but I have never been there. Are there interesting "planning case studies" in the area?

    Thanks!
    First offers of assistance did go out, I haven't gotten mine yet either. Though everyone seemed to say that they do a really good job of offering a good deal of money.

    The student community was a mix. The second year students were anywhere from 25-30, but I would have to say that the majority of people at the open house who would start in the fall are between 22 and 25 with a couple of people between 25 and 29. A couple of people had some minor planning experience either as an internship in undergrad, or a community project they worked on, but most had very little.

    I think a lot of people seemed to be doing development work, but took classes all across the board. They really encourage you to concentrate in more than one area. I saw some projects from a land use class that looked really interesting. There were really only a few faculty members who were there, and they all seemed excited about their areas. There was really only one person per concentration that came.

    The students seemed to say that especially during the summer there were lots of opportunities to become involved in projects around the area. Most I had met had worked during the summer in NC.

    Chapel Hill was very pretty, but very suburban. There's just one street of shops and bars. It's very suburban sprawl. It felt very tiny for someone coming from a big city, and students who came from cities told me it was definitely an adjustment.

    Hope this helps.

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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by jlc221 View post
    First offers of assistance did go out, I haven't gotten mine yet either. Though everyone seemed to say that they do a really good job of offering a good deal of money.

    The student community was a mix. The second year students were anywhere from 25-30, but I would have to say that the majority of people at the open house who would start in the fall are between 22 and 25 with a couple of people between 25 and 29. A couple of people had some minor planning experience either as an internship in undergrad, or a community project they worked on, but most had very little.

    I think a lot of people seemed to be doing development work, but took classes all across the board. They really encourage you to concentrate in more than one area. I saw some projects from a land use class that looked really interesting. There were really only a few faculty members who were there, and they all seemed excited about their areas. There was really only one person per concentration that came.

    The students seemed to say that especially during the summer there were lots of opportunities to become involved in projects around the area. Most I had met had worked during the summer in NC.

    Chapel Hill was very pretty, but very suburban. There's just one street of shops and bars. It's very suburban sprawl. It felt very tiny for someone coming from a big city, and students who came from cities told me it was definitely an adjustment.

    Hope this helps.

    Thanks for the overview! So, are you leaning towards any of your options at this point?

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    Quote Originally posted by ebina49 View post
    Thanks for the overview! So, are you leaning towards any of your options at this point?
    Not sure yet. Penn offered me such little money that I think they have to be out. Cornell's open house is this Friday, and I'm trying to decide between going to the Rutgers or the Columbia open house next week because of course they're on the same day.

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    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    I graduated from the Bloustein School (Rutgers) several years ago. I know many of the staff are international or have background in international issues and there is a Korean exchange program that brings in many students from Korea. The Bloustein School has many classes based in international planning such as; International Transport Policy and Planning, Tourism Planning, Social Policy in Developing Nations, International Economic Development, Global Restructuring; just to name a few of the already available classes, individual studies are also available geared toward what specifically you are looking into. The enrollment is very diverse and many opportunities are available to take classes within Rutgers but outside of planning and still earning a policy or planning degree. I hope this helped you, good luck in your decision.
    @GigCityPlanner

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    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post
    I graduated from the Bloustein School (Rutgers) several years ago. I know many of the staff are international or have background in international issues and there is a Korean exchange program that brings in many students from Korea. The Bloustein School has many classes based in international planning such as; International Transport Policy and Planning, Tourism Planning, Social Policy in Developing Nations, International Economic Development, Global Restructuring; just to name a few of the already available classes, individual studies are also available geared toward what specifically you are looking into. The enrollment is very diverse and many opportunities are available to take classes within Rutgers but outside of planning and still earning a policy or planning degree. I hope this helped you, good luck in your decision.
    I heard from another alum that most people only find work in Jersey after leaving Bloustein. Also, I heard that the average salarie coming out of Rutgers is a little lower than some of the other top schools. Did you find that at all?

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    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jlc221 View post
    I heard from another alum that most people only find work in Jersey after leaving Bloustein. Also, I heard that the average salarie coming out of Rutgers is a little lower than some of the other top schools. Did you find that at all?
    PM sent, check your inbox.
    @GigCityPlanner

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    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post
    PM sent, check your inbox.
    So, as of now, I am leaning towards Rutgers primarily because Cornell is so expensive that the financial aid offered by their department does not offset enough of the cost and I can't seem to justify enormous debt for graduate school. However, still need to see the UNC cost comparison...

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    Cyburbian njm's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post
    PM sent, check your inbox.

    I'd be curious to see what the PM says.

    I'd surmise that some of this may depend on who this alum knew... plus one must keep in mind that there are probably A LOT of planning jobs in NJ. Furthermore, a little lower salary probably isn't a big deal when you consider how much less the school costs (unless one gets a nice financial package from one of the nearby privates.)
    What luck! A random assemblage of words never sounded less intelligent.

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