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Thread: Cornell anyone?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Cornell anyone?

    Ok, I apologize for another pointless Ivy Leaguer-wannabe thread, but I haven't seen Cornell being talked about much here. I find it curious since it seems to be a very well-regarded program and has fairly generous funding.

    Anyway, perusing the Planetizen guide for a solid program with a decent urban design specialization, Cornell caught my eye. What really confuses me is that the program, judging from the website/list of faculty, is heavily biased towards economic development and quantitative methods. So I was wondering if anyone went there & what they think about it (and Ithaca, while ou are at it).

    Oh the stress of application season...

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    I don't know anything about the planning program, but I went to Cornell for undergrad and can tell you a bit about Ithaca. The Finger Lakes region is very green and beautiful, and the gorges are spectacular, but it's also a pretty depressed area economically and the weather can be harsh in the winter. No huge snowfalls like in cities right on the Great Lakes (such as Buffalo and Oswego), but it can get very, very cold. People's impressions of Ithaca tend to be shaped largely by how important they consider each of these factors.

    Ithaca itself is pretty small and has some nice old buildings that are not generally in great shape. The Cornell campus is on a very steep hill overlooking downtown and Cayuga Lake. The views are fantastic. There's a bit of a hippyish vibe to Ithaca, especially downtown, but it mixes (surprisingly well) with a blue-collar feel more typical of other towns in the area. Cornell dominates the local economy and is by far the largest employer in the county. It's quite possible to live entirely within the Cornell atmosphere and never see much of the rest of the town, but it's definitely worth it to explore a little.

    If you have any other questions, feel free to ask.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    As someone who went to Cornell for both grad and undergrad, I can tell
    you both the good and bad of the program. Basically, the Cornell
    program is very heavily slanted towards international development and,
    how to put this nicely? "Conceptual" planning? All about how you
    should feel about planning, conflict resolution, politics, but NOTHING
    AT ALL about practical planning. NOTHING.

    Generally, if you are looking to work in a field related somewhat to
    planning, this is a good program as it does provide a lot of theory.
    However, if you are planning on actually becoming a planner, I would
    not recommend the program.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    I would disagree with the above poster. I am a PhD student at Cornell in planning, and earned my Masters here. The program is very strong in theory of planning and international development, true, but has a large faculty (2nd largest in the country) and therefore plenty of opportunities for practical planning experience - the workshops cover a range of practical planning, including land-use, environmental, and neighborhood planning. One area that Cornell is weak is in transportation planning. The department is making some nice additions to the urban design component, especially the hiring of Ann Forsyth and the building of a new urban design lab.

    I would be happy to answer any more questions you might have - feel free to send me a private message!

  5. #5
    Cyburbian tsc's avatar
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    I didn't go to Cornell, but grew up in Ithaca. I know a few people that went to Cornell. I think that the only way you really learn about municipal planning is by working. I think schools give you a basis and foundation, but the only way you really experience the planning profession, is by working in it. Cornell is a great school and Ithaca is a really nice community. The City of Ithaca is pretty progressive in terms of planning for an upstate community, or any community really. The place is full of earthy crunchy granola vegan green eco-minded folk.
    "Yeehaw!" is not a foreign policy

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  6. #6
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    Cornell

    I graduated early from Cornell with a degree in natural resources management and became an environmental planner on Long Island. I loved Ithaca and the campus. I still manage to keep in touch with a few professors who've offered me some wonderful advice and knowledge over the years.

    I think the best part about a large university like Cornell is that you have the opportunity to take classes that interest you in difference colleges within the university to see what piques your interest and what you don't like all the while working toward your degree. That's ultimately how I arrived at my career choice. good luck!

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    I applied to Cornell in Fall 08 and was accepted but decided to defer my graduate studies another year to gain experience (and save $) at my current job with a RE development company.

    Anyways, I left Cornell thoroughly impressed - when I went upstate to visit I spent about half a day with Pierre Clavel touring the campus and discussing the program, and I also met with Ann Forsyth for an hour or two. Both were very enthusiastic about Cornell, honest when discussing the program's weaknesses, and more than willing to meet with me on a Saturday afternoon, which I think says a lot.

    I'll definitely re-apply to Cornell this fall, but I'm hoping current and former students could shed some light on my biggest concern about enrolling: Ithaca. I grew up in Chicago and I've been living in NYC since beginning undergrad, so the idea of living in such a remote area bothers me... Would any current/former students share to shed some light on studying in Ithaca? What, exactly, do you guys do up there in the winter?

    Despite location, Cornell really doesn't get as much attention as it deserves. It's also surprisingly affordable for an Ivy, and I received a generous aid package last year.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by riotproofcity View post
    I grew up in Chicago and I've been living in NYC since beginning undergrad, so the idea of living in such a remote area bothers me... Would any current/former students share to shed some light on studying in Ithaca? What, exactly, do you guys do up there in the winter?
    The mere fact that you're asking that question suggests that Ithaca may not be the place for you...

    More seriously, in addition to my previous comments in this thread, I'll say that if you're coming from a big-city background, as very many Cornell students are, Ithaca will likely be a bit of a shock. It really is both surprisingly isolated and remarkably cold. It's also beautiful, however, and it you like outdoor activities like hiking and skiing it's a nice place to live, even in the winter.

    If you have any more questions about Ithaca, feel free to ask. Personally, I loved it, but my frame of reference is probably a bit different from yours.

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