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Thread: Expensive school vs. in-state tuition

  1. #1
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    Expensive school vs. in-state tuition

    Hi, all. I have a public policy background and am heading back to grad school to get a Master of Landscape Architecture with a dual Master of Urban Planning. What I really want to work on are sustainable cities, urban design, and livability.

    I have been accepted to Cal-Berkley and Virgina Tech (Alexandria campus)--I live in Virginia. Neither school offered assistance. Berkeley will cost ~$25,000 a year and VT $12,000 a year, plus living expenses.

    My question is: Is attending Berkeley worth doubling my debt load?

    Berkeley was my top pick, both because of the strength of the program in my interest areas and because I eventually want to work in the west. But now that I actually have to make the decision, the prospect of graduating with of $145K in loans is scary.

    Thoughts? I appreciate any and all advice!

    MS

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Pretty sure that several of us might give you the same answer -

    Why go into debt for a "name".
    besides the cost/distance of relocating/starting over.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Unless there is vast difference in the quality of the programs, it seems like Virginia Tech is the answer, especially if Berkley isn't offering assistance.

  4. #4
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    To clarify: I'm not questioning whether I should double my debt load for a name. If the two programs were equal, that would be a no-brainer.

    I am curious what professionals in the field think of the two programs, as far as the curriculum/faculty and how well they prepare students to work specifically in urban design. I have my own impressions but am looking for thoughts from others.

    Thanks,
    MS

  5. #5
         
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    IMO, the proximity of the school to the town/state where you want to live and work is the best way to go. In my neck of the woods, going to the tried-and-true local school (where local employers know exactly what they're going to get if they hire a grad) beats the national prestige and quality perceptions every time.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian The District's avatar
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    +1 for danthonyjr. where do you want to live/work after graduation? that should be a pretty big determining factor in choosing a school.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    mksharp01,

    I am a first year MLA student at VT (Alexandria) and I would suggest you to visit both schools before you decide. WAAC promotes a very different learning style and there is a lot of interaction between landscape architects and architects as we share the same studio space. It is a small community where everyone knows each other and I found it a perfect place for people who want to work part-time and go to school at the same time.

    PM me if you want more info.

  8. #8
    Mod Gedunker's avatar
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    As a professional that has done some hiring, this might bum out a bunch of people who are going to "big name" schools and paying the bucks to do so (and paying and paying and paying), but an applicant's school doesn't really impress me all that much. I take note of it, but someone with a solid resume from some state school will get his foot in the door if he or she shows me solid work. The person that gets the job is the one that interviews the best regardless of whether they went to Berkeley or VaTech.

    That's my $0.02. Take it or leave it.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    What Gedunker said...plus VATech has a very good reputation.

  10. #10

    residency

    you should look into how hard it is to obtain residency in california. i'm pretty sure that you can qualify for in-state tuition after your first year.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Plus PlannerGirl's avatar
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    Gedunker is right on track

    Every agency I have worked with has echoed the same thing, if you are going into the majority of planning jobs the hiring person could give a hill of beans where you went. Heck I have seen some cases of the bigger names harming an applicants chance at a job.



    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker View post
    As a professional that has done some hiring, this might bum out a bunch of people who are going to "big name" schools and paying the bucks to do so (and paying and paying and paying), but an applicant's school doesn't really impress me all that much. I take note of it, but someone with a solid resume from some state school will get his foot in the door if he or she shows me solid work. The person that gets the job is the one that interviews the best regardless of whether they went to Berkeley or VaTech.

    That's my $0.02. Take it or leave it.
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin

    Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO- HOO what a ride!'"

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