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Thread: Appropriate number of school to apply to?

  1. #1
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    Appropriate number of school to apply to?

    Hey All,

    I'm new to the forum and looking for a little advice. I'm originally from Detroit (talk about failed planning in your face!), but recently moved out to California where I'm planning on pursuing a masters in planning next year.

    At the moment I'm busy studying for the GRE (Boo!) and getting app stuff together. I'm trying to figure out how many schools I should apply to. Let me drop a bit about myself, my interests and where I'm considering. Any advice is appreciated!

    Me: Undergrad finished in 2005, Doubled in Pol. Sci/sociology, minor in econ, Cum. GPA 3.92, one of my majors and my minor was a 4.0, minus study abroad my courses were all at a large state school in the mit (not MSU or UofM). Was active in volunteer work and worked as a student assistant. No technical planning or design experience, spent the recent years in the D taking care of an ill parent and working as a chef.

    I did travel abroad a lot in the past years, and recently completed a steller internship in South Africa @ an NGO focused on sustainable development and energy.

    I don't feel too confident that my GRE scores will be great but who knows.

    Interests: integrated approaches at sustainable development and resource management, policy more than design.-> prob. going to specialize in enviromental design or policy, although transportation programs are looking rewarding as they seem to really consider a broad range of associated issues.

    Post Grad thoughts-prob. stay in cali for a bit though not sure where. Would like to work on an alternative career where I can learn and get experience in new approaches, possibly in the private sector but I'm down with getting some public gov. experience first if necessary. (is this too idealistic or fuzzy?)

    Anyways, I'm considering:
    UC Berk.
    UCLA
    Cal Poly SLO
    USC

    I'm wondering if I should tone it down to 3, either dropping USC cause of the price tag (just went to a grad fair where I asked their rep about funding and was told that applications went up 50% while funding was going down) or UC Berkley cause I'm not sure I represent a competitive candidate and I would like something more hands on (or at least a more practicing faculty)

    Any thoughts are appreciated. Sorry for the long post. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    I don't see why you shouldn't apply to all four of those schools.

    In my opinion some people do get carried away with applying. In most cases, any more than, say, six or seven seems excessive and probably includes some redundancy, but I don't think that's the case here.

    Each of the schools you're looking at is different than the others in at least some respect. As far as Berkeley and USC, you never know about admission or financial aid - given that you'd only be applying to four, it seems well worth a shot to me.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    5 schools....

    Yep...That's the answer....I think....

    Although yesterday I was leaning more to 4.7....

    Tomorrow looks like a 6 to me...

    ....

    I'm sorry, what was the question again?
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  4. #4
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    Thanks ya'll,

    Each is different and having their own intriguing aspects. Guess I'll push through and try for all four.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally posted by steve_rogers View post
    Thanks ya'll,

    Each is different and having their own intriguing aspects. Guess I'll push through and try for all four.
    You don't want to stretch yourself thin, in this down economoy, it will be a very competitive application process and hence the best is to concentrate on quality not on quantity of applications

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Batmanda's avatar
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    I wouldn't apply to any fewer than that, and maybe even more, unless you're OK with the idea of maybe not going anywhere. I'm not saying that will be the case, as you've got a lot of great assets and its likely you'd get it, but some of the schools on your list are very selective. When I was applying to a MUP program at Berkeley last year, they had like an 8% acceptance rate, and a friend who applied to UCLA said it was about 15%. If you're ok with the concept of maybe not going to grad school, and wouldn't go anywhere but X, y, z school, then only apply to a few; but if you def. want to go, don't trim it down too much. I'm in a masters program now, and at least a third of the people there went back to grad school because of the economy, so I'm pretty sure there are a lot more people applying these days than in the past few years.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    UCLA 15%?

    Quote Originally posted by Batmanda View post
    I wouldn't apply to any fewer than that, and maybe even more, unless you're OK with the idea of maybe not going anywhere. I'm not saying that will be the case, as you've got a lot of great assets and its likely you'd get it, but some of the schools on your list are very selective. When I was applying to a MUP program at Berkeley last year, they had like an 8% acceptance rate, and a friend who applied to UCLA said it was about 15%. If you're ok with the concept of maybe not going to grad school, and wouldn't go anywhere but X, y, z school, then only apply to a few; but if you def. want to go, don't trim it down too much. I'm in a masters program now, and at least a third of the people there went back to grad school because of the economy, so I'm pretty sure there are a lot more people applying these days than in the past few years.

    15% seems really low wow. was it really the case for UCLA last year?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian kalimotxo's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by krbxtigerz View post
    15% seems really low wow. was it really the case for UCLA last year?
    It does seem a little bit low... could that have been the matriculation rate? Then again, having gone through this process last year, I would not be all that surprised. Acceptance rates at all schools were down significantly from the year before. If I remember correctly, UNC-CH's acceptance rate was 15 points lower for Fall '09 than the rate reported in the last Planetizen guide due to a confluence of factors - mostly a lot less funding going to the department coupled with a 25% increase in the number of applicants.

    Based on the state of the economy right now, it seems probable that acceptance rates at a lot of the most prestigious schools will continue to drop for Fall '10. Just look at the state of the budget in places like NC and California. Like those of us who went through it last year, anyone applying this year will face some pretty stiff competition. Not to discourage anyone... everyone here is capable of getting into great planning programs. Just don't take anything for granted.
    Process and dismissal. Shelter and location. Everybody wants somewhere.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally posted by kalimotxo View post
    If I remember correctly, UNC-CH's acceptance rate was 15 points lower for Fall '09 than the rate reported in the last Planetizen guide due to a confluence of factors - mostly a lot less funding going to the department coupled with a 25% increase in the number of applicants.
    Yeah, the numbers they gave my visitation group today at UNC were a bit lower than what Planetizen has for previous years. They couldn't remember exactly what they were, but it was around 70 accepted out of 235.

    Based upon this information, and the fact that competition will be even stiffer due to the economy, UNC has gone from a school that I think I am likely to get accepted to to one that is a reach. I'm applying to seven schools total...not because I enjoy forking out $50-$77 per application, but I do want to get into at least three or four schools.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by krbxtigerz View post
    15% seems really low wow. was it really the case for UCLA last year?
    According to the guide put out by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, it was 46 percent. Out of 357 applicants, they accepted 164.

    Certainly competitive, but not quite that rough. I think sometimes schools put out figures that compare the number of enrolled students to the number of applications. As a ratio, that's going to be a lot lower than the number of accepted students to applications.

    Berkeley is pretty brutal, though - 14 percent acceptance rate.

    Overall, that seems like a pretty good mix of schools to me. But whether you apply to more might depend on how confident you feel. Given your grades, with a decent GRE score I would think you would have a very competitive application. But admissions is an inexact science (if it's even fair to call it a science) so it could be argued that it's wise to err on the side of more schools.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Batmanda's avatar
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    Ah, well it looks like I was given the wrong information about UCLA, and remembered slightly wrong about Berkeley- sorry about that!! Didn't mean to give any misleading info. I didn't have official recent statistical information, but what they told us last year at acceptance/rejection time.

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