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Thread: New here, and scared that I won't have a chance anywhere.

  1. #1

    New here, and scared that I won't have a chance anywhere.

    Hey all, I'm new to the site. I'm really glad I found it--I've read through things, and it seems to be helpful.

    My dilemma: I'm very interested in planning, and would like to get my Masters when I finish undergrad; however, I feel my GPA may not allow this. My second year of undergrad really messed me up; due to personal issues, I just lost interest and focus in school altogether, and that had a tremendous [negative] impact on my grades, which brought me down to my current GPA--2.75.

    Now, I'm doing better this year already. I'm hoping that, by the end of this year, I'll be up to at least a 3.0; and by the end of my senior year, hopefully a 3.3-3.4. My expected graduation date is May 2011; if needed, however, I will stay one more semester (December 2011 graduation date) in order to improve my GPA a bit.

    I'm going to take the GRE at the beginning of next year, and I've already got two excellent professors lined up who would be willing to write recommendation letters for me.

    I have no experience though. I don't know how to go about getting an internship in planning. I've found a couple online, but I need at least a 3.0 GPA, which doesn't do me much good right now.

    So, low GPA and no experience are my main dilemmas. Would I have any chance?

    I know some may think it's a bit too soon for me to be worrying about this, but I do worry about things like this--especially since I'm the first in my family to even go to college.

  2. #2
    Welcome to Cyburbia, Aerorobyn.

    A couple of thoughts: a low over all GPA is not something to automatically disqualify you from a MUP degree, though it will limit your selection of possible schools. Harvard and Penn, for example, are probably off your list If your GPA in your major is strong, then I wouldn't worry about it at all.

    Schools also recognize that some students go through rough stretches. It's what you do to overcome those that shows your character. From the sounds of it, you've picked your self up nicely and that says a lot.

    Lastly, I don't care where job candidates went to school: I care about what they learned while they were there and how that will translate into helping my organization meet its goals. Good luck and I look forward to seeing you around the forums!
    On pitching to Stan Musial:
    "Once he timed your fastball, your infielders were in jeopardy."
    Warren Spahn

  3. #3
         
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    From my quick browsing, it appears that if you can get your GPA up to 3.0 and just show up for the GRE, you can likely get into the MCRP program at UT-Arlington, which is, of course, just around the corner from you.

    If you're looking to venture outside Texas, I know a couple of programs that might suit you well.

    Best wishes.

  4. #4
    Thank you for the replies. I'm not looking to go to Harvard or Penn, so I shouldn't have a problem there. As far as UT-Arlington is concerned--that's where I am currently attending; so, I'm looking to get away from Texas (or, at least the DFW area) for a change.

    Providing I did bring my GPA up to at least a 3.2 by graduation, and I have decent GRE scores and letters of recommendation, are there any schools I should try? Which ones should I not waste time on (besides Harvard or Penn, obviously)?

    Thank you again!

  5. #5
    Quote Originally posted by Aerorobyn View post
    Thank you for the replies. I'm not looking to go to Harvard or Penn, so I shouldn't have a problem there. As far as UT-Arlington is concerned--that's where I am currently attending; so, I'm looking to get away from Texas (or, at least the DFW area) for a change.

    Providing I did bring my GPA up to at least a 3.2 by graduation, and I have decent GRE scores and letters of recommendation, are there any schools I should try? Which ones should I not waste time on (besides Harvard or Penn, obviously)?

    Thank you again!

    I'm in a similar dilemna, except this is my fifth year in school, and with a 2.8 GPA I have little time to pull my grades up. I'm in the process of applying to grad school right now. I actually believe that I'll get into the schools that I'm applying to - I'm applying to North Carolina and Clemson for sure, but I'm also seriously contemplating Wisconsin, Cincinnati, and Rutgers. However, I've had two internships, a couple of extracurriculars, and a 3.6 GPA in my major. I have no doubt that I will be able to muster up solid letters of rec, heck it was hard for me to narrow it down to just three people! I don't want to brag on myself, but I have pretty strong writing skills and I'm pretty focused on what I'd like to do and having already studied planning for several years, I know how to express it in an intelligent manner and in the language of planning itself. So I have no worries about my personal statement. My B.S. degree is in planning, so I have no doubt that I'll be able to "get" the material in grad school and do well. I personally don't see why admissions staff would doubt me either.

    As far as internships are concerned...........well, my first internship was at a non-profit CDC (I got that through a deacon at my mom's church). I literally walked into my second internship at the local regional planning commission. I simply e-mailed the planning commission stating that I was a student interested in interning with them and attached my resume. They gave me the internship. Though it was unpaid, it still provided me invaluable experience and I found myself ahead of the curve in terms of what I knew about the nuts and bolts of planning so to speak once classes resumed this fall. Lesson here? Sometimes you just have to take the initative and be bold in your efforts.

    I definitely think you have a chance. Just be bold and confident. Keep pulling your grades up, build up as many contacts with professionals and practicioners alike as you can. I'll be glad to provide you with an update in a few months as to whether or not I got into the schools that I'm applying to right now.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    I'll second this.....

    Just be bold and confident. Keep pulling your grades up. Make applications to a wide variety of schools.

    Maybe these schools:

    Florida Atlantic University
    College of Architecture, Urban and Public Affairs
    School of Urban and Regional Planning

    University of New Orleans
    Department of Planning and Urban Studies

    University of New Mexico
    Community and Regional Planning Program
    School of Architecture and Planning
    Skilled Adoxographer

  7. #7
         
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    I went to a school that rarely gets mentioned on this board -- The University of Memphis. It was a great experience that I wouldn't trade for anything.

    My undergrad GPA was 3.5; GRE scores were dismal. I had an assistantship with the city-county planning agency during both years of school and had a job waiting for me when I graduated. My assistantship paid full tuition/fees and a monthly stipend.

    Memphis is very much a 'generalist' school, meaning that you'll get the basics (land use, site planning, land use controls, methods, etc.) and then are free to venture off and create your own niche/specialty. I focused on housing and community development. I had friends who took design classes through the architecture department.

    Certainly, Memphis is no Harvard or Penn, but if you're looking for a solid program in an urban setting and a good shot at an assistantship, you might give it a look-see.

    Best wishes.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    I had a terrible GPA. In applications I emphasized my last 2 years rather than the previous 8. Only one of five applications was rejected: and I didn't want to go there anyway.

    Talk it up. Show the maturity you gained after the soph. year. "I finally became focused while taking a Soc. of the Community class...."

  9. #9
    Cyburbian joshking2's avatar
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    Outside of the Academic Arena what your GPA was really doesn't matter. Your life experiences and your ability to work SHOULD play a larger role. I graduated with my undergrad with just under a 3.0 and found a job (Not my ideal job but a planning job is a planning job) 4 months later. If your geographically relocatable and can put a sentence together you'll be just fine.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian The District's avatar
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    i've never had a paid internship, but i've interned at a lot of great places. if you're willing to provide free labor, it opens a lot of doors into places that wouldn't otherwise be interested. working for free may require that you limit your internship hours to make room for a paying job, but just do what you need to do to get the experience. call around, send out resumes to anywhere you'd like to work, assuming you're willing to work for free. internship experience is extremely important, so be willing to forego being paid for your work in order to stand out as a grad school applicant.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian FueledByRamen's avatar
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    I had about a 3.0 when I graduated from UT-Austin and a 1300 GRE score and I got into UT-Austin's MSCRP program.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally posted by The District View post
    i've never had a paid internship, but i've interned at a lot of great places. if you're willing to provide free labor, it opens a lot of doors into places that wouldn't otherwise be interested. working for free may require that you limit your internship hours to make room for a paying job, but just do what you need to do to get the experience. call around, send out resumes to anywhere you'd like to work, assuming you're willing to work for free. internship experience is extremely important, so be willing to forego being paid for your work in order to stand out as a grad school applicant.

    Great advice. I've had two internships, neither one paid. But I had a paying internship and only went to the internship once a week, so it worked out. The first one got my feet wet with basic data collection and GIS skills and using them for real-world applications, while giving me a chance to do some community development work (it was at a non-profit CDC). The second internship (at the local regional planning commission) proved to be VERY helpful, as the topic of research during the summer ended up doubling as my senior project. When I went to UNC-Chapel Hill's open house the other day, I handed that work over to a professor there who seemed to be quite interested as his research interests cover the same general topic (land use, environmental planning, etc). This past internship has opened doors for me, without a doubt, but I never got a paid a cent.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Kingmak's avatar
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    I'm in the same boat, worried about getting in anywhere:

    BA in Geography (Urban and Regional Systems) from Ohio State, 3.1 GPA so far (Cumulative)
    Minor in Sociology, 3.8 GPA

    GRE: 940, but will take again on Dec. 1st. Practices averaging around 1100

    Internship/Volunteer: Interned for Congresswoman, volunteered at Wetland Preserve, working with Ph.d student.

    Applying to:

    UNM-Water Resource Program
    U. Wyoming-Rangeland Ecology and Watershed Management
    Toledo-Geography and Planning
    Ball St.- MURP
    Ohio U.- Environmental Policy and Planning

  14. #14
    Thank you all for your replies!

    To those of you who are in the same boat as me--Good Luck! I really hope you get into the school you want to go to.

    As said, I'm not looking to get into a "fancy" school like Harvard, Penn, Columbia, etc.; I'm not looking to stay in Texas either, but I will probably apply to UT-Austin's program just to see what happens.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Well.....

    Quote Originally posted by Kingmak View post
    I'm in the same boat, worried about getting in anywhere:

    BA in Geography (Urban and Regional Systems) from Ohio State, 3.1 GPA so far (Cumulative)
    Minor in Sociology, 3.8 GPA

    GRE: 940, but will take again on Dec. 1st. Practices averaging around 1100

    Internship/Volunteer: Interned for Congresswoman, volunteered at Wetland Preserve, working with Ph.d student.

    Applying to:

    UNM-Water Resource Program
    U. Wyoming-Rangeland Ecology and Watershed Management
    Toledo-Geography and Planning
    Ball St.- MURP
    Ohio U.- Environmental Policy and Planning
    Apply to Colorado if you are smart, Yuk Lee Professor and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs-Denver will see that you get in....being an Ohio State grad and all He's big into the academic lineage me thinks

    http://www.cudenver.edu/Academics/Co...s/Lee_Yuk.aspx
    Skilled Adoxographer

  16. #16
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    I had a worse GPA then you have currently and my GRE scores were less then spectacular but the biggest thing that helped me was interviews. I was nowhere near the schools I was applying for but I emailed or called the departments and asked for phone interviews with the chair. Every school I interviewed at I got accepted at.

    Until you speak or meet with someone making the decisions, you're just a name on a paper. Even if you've got great scores/ grades. So with poor scores/ grades you're really at a disadvantage. But if you can put a voice (or a face for better effect) with that name while conveying your interest in their program they start to get the whole picture of who you are. You can really work this to your advantage.

    I guess if you're bad at interviewing then it's probably not a good idea. But for most people I would say this this really makes you stand out. At one school I interviewed with, I concluded my interview with asking when the chair when they thought they would be sending out acceptance letters. He told me he had a big stack and would get to some of them in the next couple of weeks. The next morning I had an email congratulating me on my admittance. There's no way my interview didn't get me accepted to that school.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally posted by spagnoli View post
    I had a worse GPA then you have currently and my GRE scores were less then spectacular but the biggest thing that helped me was interviews. I was nowhere near the schools I was applying for but I emailed or called the departments and asked for phone interviews with the chair. Every school I interviewed at I got accepted at.

    Until you speak or meet with someone making the decisions, you're just a name on a paper. Even if you've got great scores/ grades. So with poor scores/ grades you're really at a disadvantage. But if you can put a voice (or a face for better effect) with that name while conveying your interest in their program they start to get the whole picture of who you are. You can really work this to your advantage.

    I guess if you're bad at interviewing then it's probably not a good idea. But for most people I would say this this really makes you stand out. At one school I interviewed with, I concluded my interview with asking when the chair when they thought they would be sending out acceptance letters. He told me he had a big stack and would get to some of them in the next couple of weeks. The next morning I had an email congratulating me on my admittance. There's no way my interview didn't get me accepted to that school.


    Oh wow.

    First of all,

    What school(s) did you interview with?

    How long ago was this?

    What exactly were your stats?



    Because of my low cum GPA (2.8) I'm looking to boost my chances of admission any way that I can. Didn't think about phone interviews.

  18. #18
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    I'll PM you with the personal information.

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