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Thread: A wannabe planner in high school

  1. #1
    Aug 2009
    Central Maryland

    A wannabe planner in high school

    Hi! So, as you can see from the title I'm currently in High School (I'm starting my sophomore year in a few weeks) and seeing as college is right around the corner, I wanted to get a rough idea what exactly I want to do with my life. So, without further ado, here are some questions that I hope you'll take the time to answer.

    1. What are some good colleges that have strong urban planning/design schools on the East Coast (preferably in the BosWash)

    2. I've read/heard that most schools do not offer an undergraduate degree for urban planning so would be a typical degree that I could get to lead me into a masters degree in planning?

    3. Is ACIP accreditation really necessary?

    4. What are the typical job prospects for an urban planner. Is it really a growing field? What's the typical salary?

    5. What is a typical day/week for an urban planner? How much work is expected?

    6. I've also wanted to be on the development side of urban planning like real estate [re]development (like a mini-mixture of James Rouse/Robert Moses/Donald Trump/Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company). So, is this even realistic/possible, and if so, is there any other steps I should take to achieve it?

    So, that's pretty much it. I look forward to reading your responses! And thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Plus
    Jun 2003
    1. - Loook at the list of accredited programs at: http://www.planningaccreditationboar...ndex.php?id=30

    2. - Almost anything you wish. Several of us have degrees in Geography.

    3. - We have had a spirited debate/threads about this. Use the search function.

    5. - We had a thread about this:

  3. #3
    Oct 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    In regards to #2 you are correct, most accredited planning programs are offered at the graduate level. However, there are few accredited undergraduate programs out there. In the BosWash corridor the only one I know of is the University of Virgina's Bachelor of Urban and Environmental Planning. In addition to UVA being a great school, the program is housed in the School of Architecture so you would more than likely be able to some architecture classes that deal with site and real estate development issues.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
    Jan 2009
    Remote command post at local bar
    You may want to look at some of the related degrees offered by colleges. You're not looking out west, but ASU has a degree in real estate development, planning, housing and urban development and sustainability. See if some of the east coast schools can offer a similar program.

    As far as jobs, it's a dead market right now, but by the time you graduate it may be up again. Somewhere there's a thread on websites that offer planning jobs, that should tell you starting wages and earning potential.

    For a day in the life, do some intern work at your city or a planning firm, they may not be able to pay you, but they can show you what we do. Also with some schools you can just sit in on the classes to learn more about the jobs.

    Good luck

  5. #5
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
    Jan 2005
    Hang on Sloopy...land
    2- Some will argue, but I think that the Urban Planning undergrad is better than the masters. Depending on the program of course. By getting put into the planning world for four years, you get to see a much more detailed view of what you are getting into. The masters really does what the undergrad does in four years, in two. So really if you want to be rounded in other fields, get the undergrad in it, but if you want to be a planner, get the undergrad in planning, why wait?

    3- No, there are becoming many more certifications if you do not want to get AICP.

    4. Jobs range from government work (75%) to private sector and non-profit. It really depends on what you want to do with your degree. Salary is dependant on the area you work but ranges from $30k to $100+k.

    6. I would argue that real estate development is not exactly urban planning. If you enjoy this type of field look more to the real estate degrees or get an MBA. Understanding the finances behind the transactions is probably the most important part of the real estate game, and your urban planning degree will just touch on this.

    Good luck. I too found the Urban Planning spirit in high school. It is a small group who do so that early. It gives you plenty of time to get the experience and understanding of the profession. Intern, volunteer, or hang out at your local planning office, and see what they do. Go to a private company and see if they can show you some projects they are doing. It will not only make you understand what you are doing better, it will get you connections you will keep for a long time.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  6. #6
    Oct 2007
    Amherst, MA
    Before you set out charging through college to a planning career, you may want to find a school that offers urban design and planning courses through a more interdisciplinary approach. You really never know what direction the subject matter will start taking you in. A few years ago I had narrowed my path down to urban planning. Now, I'm in my final semester as an undergrad at a school that allows me to design my own concentration, which was simply the best decision I could have made. It allowed me to find a semester long program where I studied urban design, history, and theory through an intense architecture design project (with which I had no prior experience). Now, I'm considering a joint master's architecture and urban design, but, again...you never know.

    Actually, you might want to consider trying on the profession through a program like the one I did (http://www.institute-ny.org/) early on as an undergraduate.

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