Ok, so Iím currently a freshman in the University of Miami school of business majoring in management science also known as operations research. However, I donít particularly like it here. I find most of the students here to be extremely superficial and materialistic, especially in the school of business. They know nothing about whatís going on in the world nor do they care to know. All they care about is their frat parties and what night clubs to go to. So anyways Iím considering transferring to Occidental College, a small liberal arts college in Los Angeles. Since they donít have my current major there I was looking through possible majors that I could switch to if I were to transfer there. As I was looking there was one that really caught my eye, urban and environmental policy. So I started to think that maybe I can major in that with the eventual goal of getting a masterís degree in urban planning. Aside from the issue of money, switching my major is the biggest factor in deciding whether or not I want to transfer because I know I would like Occidental a lot more than I like Miami but at the same time I have to look toward the future and my career plans and try not to be short sighted.
However, to be honest I only have a very vague idea of what an urban planner actually does. But there are several things that make me think that urban planning would be a good career for me. Iíve always loved cities and maps. When I was younger I was absolutely OBSESSED. When, I was probably about 8 or 9 years old I would spend hours studying maps and looking up census data about cities (I was a strange kid). Also, I would continually beg my parents to take me to visit big cities like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Even now I still love that kind of stuff. Back in high school I spent countless hours riding my bike all over my hometown of Cincinnati exploring all of the different neighborhoods in the city (including the extremely dangerous crime-ridden neighborhoods). I loved learning about the layout of the city and eventually came to know it very well. Aside from my reasons for thinking that urban planning might be a really good fit for me I also think that business might not be right for me. I donít know if I could deal with the conservative business environment filled with people who care nothing for their fellow human beings and are only interested in how to make more money. I consider myself to be a rather liberal person and Iím also very proud to be a liberal. My goal in life isnít to make as much money as I possibly can. My goal is to be able to make a difference in the world and help people, especially people living in poverty. In general would you say that the people in urban planning tend to be liberal, conservative, moderate, or a fairly diverse mixture of people from all different political viewpoints? Also, for the people who are already working in urban planning do you feel like what you do makes a difference? Do you get a sense of fulfillment out of what you do?
However, even though there are several things that lead me to believe that urban planning would be a good career for me I also have a lot of concerns about switching my major and I donít want to burn any bridges without giving a lot of thought to what I actually want to do. One of the big concerns I have about urban planning is the money issue. From the research Iíve done on it, it seems like urban planners are somewhat underpaid, especially for a field that generally requires a masterís degree to get good entry level positions. Normally this wouldnít be such a big concern but I think that I would probably like to stay in Los Angeles after college and it is insanely expensive to live there. I know that money doesnít buy happiness but at the same time I want to be able to live my life without constantly having to worry about my finances. Do you think that I would be able to live comfortably in Los Angeles working as an urban planner? Are there any urban planners that live and work in Los Angeles that could give me some insight into that? Another thing I wanted to know is how useful is being talented in math in urban planning? Iím extremely talented in math (I got a perfect score on the math section of the SAT) and itís not a skill that I want to let go to waste. Another thing Iím curious about is how useful are foreign languages in urban planning? I really love foreign languages and want to be in a career where I can utilize my foreign language skills. Iím nearly fluent in Spanish and could probably be fluent with just a little bit more practice, Iím currently learning Portuguese, and I hope to learn even more languages later on in life. Another thing Iím concerned about is that some people have told me that urban planning can be very political and urban planners spend a lot of their time tangled up in politics. Is this true?
So anyways, based on everything Iíve said does it sound like urban planning would be a good fit for me? From the little I know about urban planning I think it sounds like something I would really enjoy. But like I said I only have a vague idea of what an urban planner actually does and I do have my concerns about going into urban planning. Does anybody have any advice for me on what I should do? Iím really torn right now on whether or not to transfer. Iím only a freshman right now but I really think that I would like my current major as I start to get into more advanced topics but itís hard to know right now since Iím still only in the general business classes such as economics, business law, and accounting and havenít really gotten into classes from my specific major yet. But at the same time I really donít like most the people here at Miami and even after college I donít know if I could stand working in the corrupt corporate world. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Sorry that this is so long but I had a lot to say. Please read it anyways because it took me a long time to write this. This is actually my second time writing this because the first time my computer messed up and I lost everything I wrote so this time I was smart and typed it in Word and copied and pasted it. But anyways thank you so much for any advice. Iím so lost right now.