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Thread: Planning careers in the western US/Schools

  1. #1

    Planning careers in the western US/Schools

    Hello all,

    I'm interested in pursuing a planning degree in the next couple of years and my primary interests involve issues facing western cities: massive growth, encroachment on public lands, water rights, and sustainable development.

    I'd like to go to a good university, but because of my lack of academic preparation- the college where I got my undergraduate degree didn't have even a geography department, let alone a planning degree (my degree is in Spanish)- probably makes admission into top-tier schools like USC or UCLA unlikely.

    I also want to go to a school in the west, since that's where I'd like to work. I've looked at ASU, but I don't have much confidence in their program; it seems somewhat relaxed and almost a second thought to their other school of design programs. The program at the UofA seems tiny.

    So, my question is: would I have a problem getting a job in the west if I had a degree from an eastern university? How much of a factor is geography?

    I'm interested in the UCincinnati program specifically; I have seen some negative comments about the city and unversity, but I'd be interested in hearing other opinions.

    Thanks for the input.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    There are a lot of great planning schools dotted throughout the west. Colorado has a few of them and so does California aside from USC, UCLA and Cal (The Cal Polys, San Jose State, just to name a few). Don't ever count out the top tier schools. Have you tried getting an internship with your local jurisdiction? That can go a long ways to helping you out on application and give you valuable work experience. As for the geography of your degree, it doesn't really matter, but as said before on a few forums, some public and private agencies (more private though) may have a preference of where your degree is from. Good luck!
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  3. #3
    Dan Staley's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    There are a lot of great planning schools dotted throughout the west. Colorado has a few of them and so does California aside from USC, UCLA and Cal (The Cal Polys, San Jose State, just to name a few). As for the geography of your degree, it doesn't really matter, but as said before on a few forums, some public and private agencies (more private though) may have a preference of where your degree is from. Good luck!
    Seconded.

    And in my view you will have less of a problem if your work is good.

    There are two 'wests' and a sub-west: the Intermountain West, the Coastal West, and the Pacific Northwest (Cascadia). Their issues are similar, but different in scale according to geography.

    The advantage of going to a western school is that the natural resources are better (IMHO); higher mountains, rugged terrain, more wilderness, etc. Where you'll go between terms and in the summer.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    I don't know if Oklahoma's as far west as you're looking, but the University of Oklahoma's RCPL program is very good and has produced a strong alumni network working in the western U.S. (as well as 5 FAICP and 3 APA presidents).

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Nevada has a Planning program and its right in your home town.

    http://www.unr.edu/geography/graduate.html

  6. #6
    Cyburbian lycosidae's avatar
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    I personally would focus on Denver. Colorado seems to have a sustainability focus and the kind of culture to support the activity you want to be involved in. The University of Colorado Denver is an okay planning school (and the only one in the region), but I would also consider DU for Geography. The University of Denver is a highly regarded school in Denver and its graduates are certainly the first in line for jobs in the region, whether it be from their business school, law school, whatever... And while DU is expensive, so is CU for out of state (about comparable). You'll be getting more bang for your buck with DU.

    Admission to top schools depends more on your grade point average, GRE scores, and statement of purpose - much more than your undergraduate concentration. Your Spanish background is invaluable in that it will help you bring the Hispanic population into the public discourse on planning issues.

    I would avoid Ohio at all costs because of its poor job market. Generally speaking, you want to try to go to school in the state you want your first planning job. You always have the option of looking out of state, but if you don't have to relocate that is always a plus. And you might want to think about the big difference between Ohio and the West in general, as Ohio planning tend to focus on economic development while planning out West will have more an interest in growth and sustainability issues.

    Many planning schools are tied to their own urban design schools so I wouldn't let that deter you from the program. A small program gives you the advantage of a lot of one-on-one with the professors.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan Staley View post
    There are two 'wests' and a sub-west: the Intermountain West, the Coastal West, and the Pacific Northwest (Cascadia). Their issues are similar, but different in scale according to geography.
    What a dis! The Northwest as a 'sub-west'?

  8. #8
    Dan Staley's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by manzell View post
    What a dis! The Northwest as a 'sub-west'?
    What is the purpose in assuming I would wish to convey the worst connotation.

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