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Thread: Penn planning visit report

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Penn planning visit report

    I'm primarily using this post to show prospective students the sort of ideas you can be exposed to at Penn and probably many places where the school has a good rapport with the community. I visited for two days last week and was pleasantly surprised by the breadth of topics covered.


    Class #1: Intro to City Planning

    The stuff in this class was pretty basic, but an interesting thing the professor did was assign students to basically write a blog post about a planning subject. You could tell that the students were pretty good writers and had some interesting topics (uncovering a river in Seoul was one that stoodout)

    Class #2: Planning Studio

    This wasn't really a class, per se, but I walked in and immediately started talking to students. The theme of the class was climate change, and the project that the whole class of 15 worked together on planning the Delaware River basin and how increases in water level might change the area. One student walked through with me with the presentation. I talked to another student at length about transportation specialization and her summer internship in Philly

    Class #3: Urban and Regional Economies
    This class was a discussion about the current financial crisis. There was supposed to be a speaker, but couldn't make it.

    Class #4:Urban Policy and Regional Analysis
    This class is party taught by the Deputy Mayor of Philadelphia, Andrew Altman. In this class, he talked about the current financial crisis, the assumptions and political ramifications of the planned budget cuts. Also talked about TIFs (tax increment financing districts). This was pretty awesome.

    Class #5: Community and Economic Development Practicum

    In this class, the director of a local Foundation, The Fels Foundation, came and discussed the foundation, their goals, how they distribute funds and receive funds, what sort of organizations and programs get funded. In the second half of the class (which I missed), the students were to work on theoretical grant applications for the non profit groups they work with.

    Class #6: Land Use and Transportation Planning
    In this class the founder and director of Phillycarshare, a non profit car sharing program came to talk about car sharing, phillycar share, its users and its business model, and other topics. This may have been my favorite class that I visited. The professor (who I had talked with for a bit before class) was very energetic, and the students were very interested.


    Outside of class, I got to visit with a planning student, who talked about his summer internship in New Orleans. I also visited with the chair of the program and talked to him about my experience. He also straight up asked me my GPA and GRE scores. (Luckily those are pretty good for me). His advice for those applying- "don't make your personal statement 3/4s a BIO" and try to get recommenders who can speak to your ability to be a good grad student.

    All in all a great experience. I couldn't help talking the whole time when I was with professors and students. It's pretty awesome to be with others who share your same (kind of nerdy) interests.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by wvhoo View post
    His advice for those applying- "don't make your personal statement 3/4s a BIO"
    Could you expand a bit on what he said about this? I'm not applying to Penn, but I am getting ready to work on my statement. Many schools' applications seem to imply that statements should be largely biographical, but this seems to show that that may not be an accurate impression (or that there is a difference of opinion on the subject).

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Penn asks specifically for the following info:

    1.How you came interested in planning
    2) What you hope to do with your degree and graduate education once finished
    3) Why Penn Planning is a good fit for your interests and professional plans

    Its only 500 words, so to be able to talk about #2 and #3 with some conviction requires a little less #1 (which is sort of what a 'bio' might entail). Other places have a much bigger word limit.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Okay, that makes sense. That's a really low word limit.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    I also visited Penn's program recently, and the chair told me to also include in my personal statement details about my practical work experience (I've been out of school for about 6 years now) that would make me a good planning student.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    I visited last week and came away with a very favorable impression. Everyone was so helpful and enthusiastic but the chair was very honest about the financial aid situation (not good).

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    I'm surprised we all didn't run into each other. My visit was last week, as well. I really enjoyed the class I sat in on, and my talks with students, although I will second or third that the chair wasn't enthusiastic about financial aid. At least he was honest, though.

    The integration of PennPlanning with the city of Philadelphia was very exciting. The students I spoke to were very excited about the second year studio that will focus on a comprehensive plan for the city.

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