I'm looking to transition into a career in planning and need a bit of advice. I'm about 6 years out of college and I'm currently in sales, but planning has been something I've been very interested in since before high school. My plan at this point is to enter a graduate program in planning, geography, or public admin/public policy in either Spring or Fall of next year.
I'm interested in the Community and Economic Development or the GIS certificate that Penn State offers online. My thinking is that earning one of these certificates would be nice to have on a resume, but more importantly might help with getting into a decent grad school. It would also allow me to work towards my goal of becoming a planner without sitting around stagnant for six months to a year. Plus, letters of recommendation have been a real worry for me and I could potentially land a few through a certificate program.
Would one of these be worthwhile for someone in my position? It's not about the time and effort, but more about the costs for the Penn State programs. Both certificates run at $644 per credit hour which amounts to $7500 for the GIS and about $9500 for the Community and Economic Development certificate. On the plus side, the credits from the certificate would count towards their online masters programs, but I'm not sure I'd be interested in doing a full masters program online.
What do you think? Can anyone recommend a less expensive online alternative?