Hello! I have been reading the boards quite a bit after stumbling upon Cyburbia. As someone who is newly interested in planning, it has been incredibly insightful. What a great resource!
Ok, a little about me. I graduated from Florida State University in Ď08 with a Bachelorís degree in Humanities (concentration in Communications), which allowed me the freedom to take a wide range of courses from different departments. I finished in 3 years (thanks to IB credits) and found myself unsure of where I should be headed. After graduation, I spent three months abroad studying French. Since then, Iíve been focused on learning to trade in the stock market for an income, a venture that I started before graduation.
My interest in planning began during a Summer study abroad to Amsterdam which focused on Dutch design, art and architecture. I was absolutely floored by the functionality, and yet aesthetic value of the Netherlands. Every bit of space was valued. The ease of biking or taking efficient public transportation anywhere I needed to go turned out to be one of the most pleasurable experiences. It completely changed the way I viewed my surroundings. I want to understand what defines a community and what sustains it. It motivates me to realize how many social, economic and environmental issues can be approached through urban planning.
Iíve started considering this a serious career route in the last 9 months or so. I have read that many planning students do in fact come from ďunrelatedĒ undergrad programs, but I know without work experience or recommendations coming from a related field I am a weak applicant at the moment. Iíve spoken with someone at the School of Urban Studies & Planning at Portland State and she said any more undergrad work would not be valuable. She instead suggested I apply to PSU as a post-bac student and take graduate courses before applying to the MURP program. That way I can start grad level work and prove to the admissions board that I am capable of succeeding in the program. Up to 24 credits can be transferred to the Masterís program after admission.
Here is where I could use some advice. (First off, I thank you in advance for taking the time to read through this and offer any advice you may have. It is greatly appreciated.)
Iíve read time and time again that in this economy many with Masterís are unable to find internships or work. Despite this, I am not convinced that a Bachelorís program in Planning or Community Development would be totally worthless. I believe it would be a good foundation, one that my Humanities degree has not given me, for planning. It would give me a chance to start networking and Iíd at least be more likely than I am now to find (ok, beg for) unpaid internships or work prior to graduate school. Also, later down the road I would be able to apply to Masterís programs abroad, something that greatly interests me. Is there anyone out there that would suggest starting in an undergrad program for these reasons or others? Has anyone recently done something like what the PSU advisor suggested, and did you feel in over your head?
Right now Iíve mainly considered Portland State for a couple reasons. First, Portland is a desirable place to live with a progressive attitude, especially towards land use and transportation. Second, the university has a flexible post-bac admission that might allow me to jump right into graduate level work. Given my situation and the possibility of doing another undergrad program, would you suggest any other universities to look into? For location, Iíd like to leave the Southeast. The Northwest/West greatly interests me but I do still have a certain sentimentality for the Northeast as I was raised in NH and most of my family is from Mass and Penn.
I welcome any other advice you are willing to share. Thank you again!