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Thread: Considering University of New Mexico graduate program

  1. #1
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    Considering University of New Mexico graduate program

    I am considering the Graduate Community and Regional Planning program at UNM. Their emphasis on environmental issues and community greatly attracts my interest.

    Does anyone have any experience with this program that can give some general insight? Also; how competitive is it getting into this program?

    Thanks!
    Last edited by SkaVille; 13 Jul 2009 at 5:30 PM. Reason: incorrect title

  2. #2
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    SkaVille,

    I am a UNM CRP graduate. PM me and I can give you some specific feedback. I had a very positive experience at UNM, but it does have its issues to consider (as does every school.) Overall, though, I give it a thumbs up!
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the reply wahday (I just returned from a visit to Albuquerque). I would like to discuss UNM with you, but do not find a PM option in your profile anywhere...

    Am I looking in the wrong place?

    Thanks

  4. #4
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    SkaVille,

    I'll be starting at UNM for a Masters in Community Planning this fall. I was really impressed from my visit, and felt more at home there than the other 3 programs that I had considered.

    It does seem to emphasize community development, which is my interest, and there is a strong interplay with regional environmental resources. Albuquerque (and New Mexico) have a unique set of issues to contend with in planning - I'm sure wahday can fill you in more fully. That said, it is a small program, and so did not seem as well rounded as the others that I visited. As far as national reputation, UNM definitely flies under that radar, but I wasn't too concerned. All MUP programs are short, and generally offer similar experiences if they are accredited so I would choose where you feel most comfortable. If that happens to be New Mexico, then I'll be seeing you there!

  5. #5
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    Whaday,

    Are you still in Albuquerque?

  6. #6
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Hi All,

    I am still in Albuquerque. I agree with what DCycle said about the program. Its small but they do a very good job of tapping the resources and case studies from the region. And there are some excellent staff. I went back to school a bit later in life and so was very focused when I was there and I definitely benefited from that. Which is to say, the program is what you make of it and if you are motivated to take advantage of opportunities like TAships, professional assistanceships, internships, etc. you can gain some excellent experiences.

    The program has three "emphases" - physical planning (which was mine), community development and natural resource planning. The reality, though, is that the core classes are taken by everyone and really emphasizes process. By this I mean how to engage with constituencies using different strategies, decision making approaches, public processes and so on. So, aside from specific bits of knowledge, I feel no matter which emphasis one chooses, you could easily work in any of the others because you come out with a strong set of tools for working with varied constituencies on almost any issue. My current position emphasizes both pysical elements and a good deal of community development.

    On the downside, the staff is small and the physical planning emphasis in particular is something they have not fully developed. They had a very good professor who went to US Davis (he came in to develop the physical planning emphasis in to something more than it has been) and I don't really know about his replacement. Again, I think being self-directed is important in this program - being motivated to go after things that interest you. There were some students who I think wanted more direction and structure coming from the program, but for me, it was perfect. I think for some of these folks, they had come straight out of undergrad and there can be a little shift there in expectations from college to graduate school where you take on more responsibility for directing your own education. That transition can be challenging (especially if you moved from another part of the country for the program).

    The staff is very accessible and they all take their position very seriously. Having another graduate degree in another field I can say that this is not always the case. The UNM staff wants you to succeed, they want you to finish and they want you to find a job where you can really shine. They also all work on many projects out of work as volunteers (something they all pride themselves on and see as an essential part of being good instructors - praxis) and manage the program collectively (collaborative leadership). I still keep in touch with a number of my professors and occasionally present for classes on various topics.

    I will also say that the school attracts a surprisingly bright student body. My cohorts, for the most part, were all very creative, bright and collaborative thinkers and many of us still stay in touch and help each other out when we can. You engage in a lot of studio based projects in small teams and I always felt everyone not only pulled their weight, but were more than willing to put in the extra time and effort needed to make a project excellent and not just "good enough."

    The last accreditation process was when I was finishing my Masters and evidently the school got very high marks, so that's something to take into account as well.

    They also have a brand new building that is pretty impressive. They had not finished it when I was in school

    Do either of you have an interest in one of these emphases at this point? I can tell you more specifically about some of those areas if you want.

    In sum, I had a very positive experience at UNM. I went there largely because I already lived here and the cost was reasonable. With the education I got, I don't think I would have done any better at a more expensive program.

    If you all have any more Qs, just fire away. Don't worry about the PMing anymore, unless you want to discuss something like the reputation of specific professors or something. Sorry it took me a while to post this info. I'm sure you all are chomping at the bit...
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    wahday knows much more about the program than I do, but I'm available for any questions people might have about Albuquerque or New Mexico more generally. I grew up in Albuquerque and have spent a lot of time in various parts of the state. It's a fascinating place in all sorts of ways, and there are a lot of planning-related issues to study, but it can also be kind of a shock for people coming from elsewhere. It's really quite different from most other parts of the country, and that's an important thing to consider when deciding where to go to school.

  8. #8
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    Wahday,

    Thank you for the very informative response about UNM! I am still in the process of figuring things out for graduate school; your response was very insightful for me.

    Also, thanks to DCycle and teofilo. I will be in touch if I have any specific questions.

    Grazie

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Kingmak's avatar
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    I just reviewed the program at it looks very interesting. I'm just wondering if it is very selective?

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