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Thread: MLA Fall 2009

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    MLA Fall 2009

    I thought I'd start a support thread for people going to school for their MLA this coming fall. Have you decided yet? Still debating? Share your story.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    I got accepted to University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and rejected from Cornell. I haven't heard anything from Texas, Colorado, or Ohio State. Right now it looks like I am 99.9% sure that I will go to UIUC. It's in-state tuition, cheap to live in, close to home, I want to end up working in Chicago, and I like their program.

    Unless Texas, Colorado, or Ohio State give me enough aid that will make it cheaper for me to attend those schools than UIUC, then I might reconsider. The chances of that happening however, are slim to none.

    MidwesternEm, what about you?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Lucifer - I think we applied to almost all of the same schools. I also applied to UIUC, Ohio State, Texas and Colorado (as well as Michigan, Minnesota and UVA). Thus far, I have received acceptances from all but UVA and Colorado but I have to say I have been really unimpressed with Ohio State and Texas. Their notification process has been sloppy and frustrating (aka Texas sent me an email, but never a letter even though they said they were going to, leaving me wondering about funding, etc). Ohio State's funding process is incredibly confusing (didn't get any money, but couldn't even figure out how to apply for it in the first place).

    I have been most impressed with UIUC and Michigan thus far. Michigan offered me a fellowship and their entire process has been smooth and reassuring. UIUC has been equally helpful. I'd be at Michigan in a heartbeat if I knew I'd have a way to fund the following two years. I currently have in state residency status for Illinois, which would make funding easy. I really don't want to leave school with a mountain of debt. So, there is a large possibility I might be seeing you next year at UIUC. If you'd like to share any of your experiences with the schools, I'd love to hear it. Best of luck with the rest of the schools you applied to!

  4. #4
    Univ. of Georiga - Rejected

    Waiting on:
    UMass
    IIT
    VT
    UVA
    Clemson

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    From my experience Illinois has been terrific through this whole application process. I am thinking I will get into Texas and Colorado, not sure about Ohio State.

    My experience with Texas is okay.

    Colorado seriously needs to update their whole application process, it seems very outdated in some ways.

    I thought Cornell's was horrible, I mean you could never reach anybody and when you would leave a message no one ever got back to me. I believe to this day, I did not make contact with anyone person in that department.

    Ohio State has been very good thus far. Still waiting on a letter though.

    Illinois, from what I have read and seen has a much more established and reputable program than Texas or Colorado. I am sure the Chicagoland is full of Illini Landscape Architecture Alums anyway. I'm definitely taking those factors into consideration. What concentration were you looking into at UIUC?

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    MidwesternEm, forgot to tell you congrats on the acceptances, that is mighty impressive. If you want to know anything else or talk to me you can contact me at my email, lou928@gmail.com, as I usually check this site at work and I could get in trouble if they catch me.

    Livingproof, I am sure you will hear soon, I think the next few weeks we will being seeing swaths of letters coming in. Best of luck.

  7. #7
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    Hey all, I just thought I would join in on the conversation. So far, I received an acceptance to Cornell early last week, but haven't heard from any of the other schools. I am currently waiting on UVA, Harvard, and NC State. That said, I have been out of town for a few days, so I am hoping that when I head home tomorrow I will have a few packets waiting for me in the mailbox...

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    I am glad people are actually using this thread!

    lucifer - thanks for the insights. I will definitely ask you some more questions as I continue to weigh the pros and cons of various schools.

    cashew and livingproof - I was getting worried about UVA and so I wrote to their admissions office today. I found out that I got in, so hopefully you two will be hearing soon. I still haven't received a letter but I am hoping one will be there when I get back from work. Oh work...haven't been doing much of that lately.

    Good luck everyone!

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Hey all -

    Just wanted to throw my 2 cents in here and also ask a question.

    My 2 cents...
    I've applied to MLA 1 programs at UPenn, Rhode Island School of Design, CCNY, and Rutgers (who aren't even sure they will have a 2009 MLA program). I've gotten accepted at RISD and CCNY so far. Haven't heard from UPenn or RU yet.

    My question...
    Anyone know anything about the CCNY MLA program? Their admissions process has been rocky to say the least (typos on the acceptance letter, shifting deadlines, mistakes on the website etc...). On top of that they are expecting a commitment from me by March 20 and I just received my acceptance today (March 12). I'm intrigued by CCNY's focus on urban larch, not to mention the low cost of attending, but I'm a bit turned off by their application procedure. that being said i don't want to judge their program based on their administration -- at this point it's all i've got though.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    milodesc - From my own research, SUNY seems to have a good reputation. It made it onto the Design Intelligence rankings last year and is respected in the east. I guess if I were you I might look at how long the program has been around, what other departments it shares classes/resources with, and whether those departments are strong. Personally, I'd feel better going to a landscape architecture program that is housed within an established architecture program because I know the program has depth. When you visit, I'd check out the student work and see if you are impressed with the sort of projects they are producing.

    But, I definitely understand what you mean about being put off my typos and administrative shortcomings. It really does have an effect! Schools like UVA, UIUC and Michigan have been really impressive in their correspondence, which reflects well on them and makes me feel like they are going to take care of me. But, I am trying to remind myself that it is the faculty, not the administrators, that I am going to be dealing with once I get to a school.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    lucifer - I am looking at the community and urban design concentration at UIUC. It was one of the big draws of the program for me. What about you?

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    Mine is Ecological Design and Technology. I orignally also had SUNY and Michigan on the list, but needed to cut a couple of them off the list as it was getting to be too much for me. Michigan because out of state tuition being so expensive there (like more than 30k yikes!) and it has provisional status. SUNY just because I needed to just cut something off the list. Kind of wish I would have cut Cornell instead of SUNY, but oh well.

    Anyway, I sent my acceptance questionaire to UIUC yesterday, looks like I am going there for sure.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    lucifer - I know what you mean about Michigan, that price tag is really scary. They offered me a fellowship for my first year (which still doesn't cover tuition) but I am so scared of what would happen if I didn't get funding the following two years (in truth, I'd probably have to drop out).

    Right now I have no idea how to approach choosing a school. UVA, UMich or UIUC? Anyone got any advice? As an art major, my strength is definitely design so UVA is tempting in that respect.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by MidwesternEm View post
    lucifer - I am looking at the community and urban design concentration at UIUC. It was one of the big draws of the program for me. What about you?
    UIUC alum here (from the BUP program). There is literally NO overlap between the landscape architecture and urban planning departments. At best you might be working on some interesting physical models. There is a dual degree in urban planning offered in UIUC's MLA program. However, there is no dual degree in landscape architecture offered in their MUP program (again no consistency between the two programs). AutoCAD skills are very rusty from landscape architecture students fresh out of UIUC (BLA and MLA) compared to other schools (Ball State, UMich, and the Ohio State). In the past few years, several of the portfolios from UIUC focused too much on golfcourse design, hand renderings were atrocious, and CAD skills were borderline mediocre. My firm places more emphasis on traditional rendering techniques rather than more computerized work.

    I work as a planner/urban designer with LAs and will be going back in 4-5 years for an MLA. UMich tends to have an ecology restoration empahsis, the Ohio State is a good overall program (CAD skills are up-to-date). Ball State and Iowa State also turn out good BLAs. UVA/Virigina Tech also have quality work. UGA is a very good all-around program, but I found their construction courses lacking. Good rendering/illustration work from a variety of media coming from Louisiana State. CU Denver has a pretty good interdisciplinary focus for MLA/MUD/MUP. K-State still ranked as one of the top, if not the top, BLA/MLA programs for landscape construction (if there is any skill you should come out of a landscape architecture program is how to create and assemble construction documents or CDs). K-State grads also have pretty sharp AutoCAD and Photoshop skills which are essential in any office.

    Hope this helps-
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  15. #15
    Cyburbian
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    Yeah, I would be careful with Michigan's program. If you are looking to get into Urban Design or Community Design I am not sure Michigan's MLA is ideal. It is really heavy on ecological design from what I could see. Their curriculm is strictly ecological.

    I am sure UVA has a really good program. Can't comment on it much because I don't know much about it.

    I want to work in Chicago, and have researched firms and there are plenty that are made up of Illinois alumni for BLA/MLA, so finding a job in the Chicago metro I don't think would be a problem from a degree from Illinois. A school can teach you only so much, what you decide to do and how hard you work in school will really come out in the end. It's also the only Illinois school with an MLA program, that is until Illinois Tech gets their program accredited.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian
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    Thanks nrschmid, you have certainly done your research, which I appreciate. Are there any particular schools you are leaning toward (sounds like K-State)? I am sorry to hear a poor review of UIUC - up til now, I have heard good things. The eco-focus of UMich did initially give me pause, but I thought that having that type of knowledge might ultimately benefit me. Am I right in thinking this? I went to a liberal arts school for my undergrad and I am really looking for a place that will give me practical more than theoretical knowledge. While there, I asked the Michigan faculty about their provisional accreditation and they said it should be cleared up this year. Sounds like an issue of administration more than quality.

    UVA seems like a name that carries weight in the architecture/design world and I was thoroughly impressed with the student work and the breadth of the curriculum. Again, just afraid of the price tag. I am hoping to get some news of financing when I get their envelope.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    I've had a lot of negative experiences with the planning program at UIUC.
    http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showp...0&postcount=11

    There is NO overlap between architecture, planning, and landscape architecture programs, only an occassional joint participation between the departments but none of the programs show how the different professions (including engineering, ecology, social services, etc.) work together. There are a decent number of firms in Chicago willing to hire UIUC students fresh out of landscape architecture. school. However, my firm doesn't really hold them in high regard, except for maybe the planning program.

    As for me, I am currently leaning towards K-State, Louisiana State, and possibly Harvard. I will be visiting those schools over the next few years, in addition to UVA, Virigina Tech, the Ohio State, CU Denver, and possibly University of Oregon and University of Washington. I'm not planning on going back to school until at least 2013 (with about 8 years of planning experience under my belt). Michigain discouraged me because it is WAY too expensive even for in-state, too much of an ecological emphasis, and the economy there is terrible.

    What do you want to do with your MLA degree?
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  18. #18
    Cyburbian
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    nrschmid - I am interested in issues of social/environmental justice and the ability of urban green space to create a sense of community within traditionally marginalized populations (for example, the Sustainable South Bronx project, which is actually a project of UVA's Kristina Hill). UVA and Michigan both have very good programs for this particular specialization (UMich has an environmental justice program within the SNRE). I thought UIUC's urban and community specialization would address these issues as well. Denver's also has potential, but their reputation seems somewhat limited to the west coast.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian
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    Just got an email from Ohio State. Accepted, no word on aid yet.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian
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    got into UF for their MLA I.. no aid for the first year though

  21. #21
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    got into UF for their MLA I.. no aid for the first year though
    How did you hear? mail, email?

    Congratulations by the way

  22. #22
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by macsurf View post
    How did you hear? mail, email?

    Congratulations by the way
    It came via regular mail and was dated 3/20... I only live a few hours away so I'm assuming that explains the monday turn around.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian
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    nrschmid and I have very different experiences while in Champaign. I've heard that the undergrad experience in the UIUC Planning program leaves something to be desired. However, don't let his bad experience sour your perspective of the Department OR the grad program, which is VERY competitive and highly regarded. The students in it are phenominal and the faculty very accessible and internationally regarded.

    I've had lots of opportunities for crossover between the Landscape Architecture, Planning, AND Architecture programs. Again, I'm sure the difference between my experiences and Nrschmid's are the difference between the undergrad and grad programs...

  24. #24
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by rdnichol View post
    nrschmid and I have very different experiences while in Champaign. I've heard that the undergrad experience in the UIUC Planning program leaves something to be desired. However, don't let his bad experience sour your perspective of the Department OR the grad program, which is VERY competitive and highly regarded. The students in it are phenominal and the faculty very accessible and internationally regarded.

    I've had lots of opportunities for crossover between the Landscape Architecture, Planning, AND Architecture programs. Again, I'm sure the difference between my experiences and Nrschmid's are the difference between the undergrad and grad programs...
    I partly agree. I am not speaking just as an undergraduate planning student fed up with my alma mater. I am speaking as a practicing planner who also works side by side with licensed landscape architects, who has had the oppportunity to compare my rudimentary education/lack of professional development with other undergradaute and graduate planning and LA programs across the country.

    In UIUC's defense, I said in my attached post that the graduate planning program is good for a lot of non-design areas of planning (economic development, international planning, etc.). You are also enrolled in the MLA program (with a joint MUP degree). However, in the MUP program there is no MLA joint degree, which I find every odd.

    UIUC was a terrible school, and I know a lot of planners who graduated with an MUP who feel the same way, especially those who wanted to do alot more on the design side. ESLARP is one big joke and waste of state tax dollars. In +20 years of the program, they have done little to nothing to revitalize East St. Louis' industrial sector, even if it meant replacing it with biotechnology, non-manufacturing, services, etc. Undergraduate and graduate students "contribute" to this program in all three departments (Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Planning). I did a ton of volunteering for ESLARP in school, which juggling several planning internships. I even offered my services as a certified planner pro-bono and they still have yet to contact me back. My firm has a lot of BLAs from Iowa State and Ball State, and they tend to overlook both undergrad and graduate students from UIUC because they leave so much to be desired in terms of AutoCAD work and hand-rendering. Granted it's only one firm, and there are others that hire BLAs and MLAs from Urbana. However, I am pointing out some of the biggest weakenesses of Urbana's landscape architecture programs.

    It's good that SOMEONE is at least enjoying UIUC for its academics. I did when I was an architecture student, but that pretty much stopped when I switched to planning.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
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  25. #25
    Cyburbian
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    nrschmid, I've seen many of your other posts and recognize the contributions you've made to the forum and the discussions on academic programs in particular. However, Your reply seems to come from a deep venom for the DURP undergrad experience morphed into a knee-jerk against anything affiliated with that narrow slice.

    UIUC is a phenomenal school. I know alot of MUP students that feel the same way.

    DURP does policy and law, and makes no bones about not being a design program. I've seen a few of your other posts and you seem to understand that 'Urban Design' is not something one goes to school for except as a post-professional program. I'd hope that if these MUP students didn't understand that before graduate school, they do afterwards.

    There is no difference in going after a MLA/MUP starting off in either Planning or L.A. Its still up to the student to reconcile the course requirements and coordinate between the two programs. That doesn't change whether you're going at it from the L.A. or U.P. side.

    Is it possible to inquire as to the firm you work with? I'd like to know before commenting more on how the cross section of students who's portfolios have come across your desk have come to not be representative of even an average student at UIUC.

    I don't think you've identified the weaknesses of the program at all. I'm happy that you've identified the skills that your firm is interested in. However, ACAD is only one of a host of computer aided design tools that is taught and utilized, among them FormZ, 3ds, and SketchUp. A great example of the de-emphasis of ACAD is SOM's decision to shift all of its design documentation into SketchUp.

    Do you think your expectations for ESLARP might be alittle out of scale for a non-profit, under-funded, educational entity? ESt.L's problems run deep. Blaming an academic entity and a group of people that essentially donate their time for failing to turn around a city that's been suffering for decades is a little unreasonable, don't you think?

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