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Thread: How good do I have to be in math?

  1. #1
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    How good do I have to be in math?

    I keep hearing that I do have to good at math in order to be an urban planner. However my professor has told me that there are different types of urban planners, some that deal with social services and others that deal with infrastructures. There's more of an emphasis on math in infrastructures than in social services. I myself do love math however I'm not the best student. Although I know I shouldn't let that stop me from trying.

    I've always been fascinated with cities. When I was little I used to take notes on a particular city whenever my dad would take me there (and still do). I also like to take photos of cities. I do reports on cities I have visited during my spare time sometimes.

    Also when I'm into cities I'm also into their subcultures. Which is partly why I feel maybe I should be an anthropologist. Unless of course knowing about city subcultures helps you as an urban planner.

    Urban planning always interested me. But I don't know if this should be my career because of the math and because I'm into subcultures. Any advice would be appreciated thank you.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    I am going to sound like your father but you can never be too good at math. Yes its true that some jobs are less math intensive than others. However think about this, how are you going to keep your household budget from becoming a mess or plan for retirement without knowing math?

    You should not be able to graduate from college without some mathematical knowledge.
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  3. #3
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    it is helpful to have a handle on stats in my opinion.
    "Those who plan do better than those who do not plan, even though they rarely stick to their plan." - Winston Churchill

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    Cyburbian Plus
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    Quote Originally posted by H View post
    it is helpful to have a handle on stats in my opinion.
    Back when I was in Grad School, stats was a required core course.
    That was 18 + yrs ago.
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    Cyburbian Woolley's avatar
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    Re: How good do I have to be in math?

    Statistics were apart of our planning program structure as a core course. But got scraped due to students failing and complaining. There are a few science equations that I came across during my ecology course. They did my head in a bit, but I persisted and did well without any help. This is from a person who only went to grade 10 and failed maths C (advanced). I think stats would mainly be beneficial in transportation and environmental planning.


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    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    I cannot subtract. When I divide, I do it three times. If I get the same answer twice, I go with it.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Plus Salmissra's avatar
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    I took stats, but that was my only math class in college. I took it again in grad school, because it was required. For most of what you would do in current planning, basic math plus knowing how to calculate FAR is about all you need.

    If I were in a different area of planning, different and maybe more math would be required. Math is also used outside of planning, so even if you switch to anthropology (which I almost minored in, so I understand the allure) you'll still need stats at a minimum.
    "We do not need any other Tutankhamun's tomb with all its treasures. We need context. We need understanding. We need knowledge of historical events to tie them together. We don't know much. Of course we know a lot, but it is context that's missing, not treasures." - Werner Herzog, in Archaeology, March/April 2011

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    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Most planners I know have to deal with little more than basic math. Trig and geometry help, although they have become less important as GIS becomes commonplace and there is less need to do things like calculate area off a paper map. Stats is helpful at a more advanced level, or if you will be involved in research.
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    Cyburbian Woolley's avatar
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    Another thought: it is one thing to know the math and another thing to apply it in a useful manner
    We architects and urban planners aren't the visible symbols of oppression, like the military or the police. We're more sophisticated, more educated, and more socially conscious. We're the soft cops.- Robert Goodman, After the Planners My Planning Forumino

  10. #10
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Curious Cat View post
    I keep hearing that I do have to good at math in order to be an urban planner. However my professor has told me that there are different types of urban planners, some that deal with social services and others that deal with infrastructures. There's more of an emphasis on math in infrastructures than in social services. I myself do love math however I'm not the best student. Although I know I shouldn't let that stop me from trying.

    [snip]

    Any advice would be appreciated thank you.
    I've had quite a bit of math, including physics, calc, econ, stats. I have never regretted it. Although I wouldn't consider myself good at math, others do and that has come in handy, often.

    You never know when math skills are going to be useful, esp to set off your BS meter or to apply your smell test. You'd be surprised how often some assumption is made that is either just plain dumb or to see if they can get over on th' GUMMINT (heh) or some sucker. Seriously.

    Once you get over the 'math is scary' part, you will find the skillset useful on a number of levels. I like stats for the formal test of 'what's the chance of x happening' or understanding someone when they say/ask that. I think microecon is much more useful as an explanation than macro which is close to a joke in my mind when we base policy on it. Physics for the big picture viewpoint of a lot of silly-a** policy (or non-policy) ideas. And so on.

    Try it, you'll like it. Don't listen to those who are afraid of the work.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    I think math is helpful in grad school but there are many, many planning jobs that never use it.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    Most planners I know have to deal with little more than basic math. Trig and geometry help, although they have become less important as GIS becomes commonplace and there is less need to do things like calculate area off a paper map. Stats is helpful at a more advanced level, or if you will be involved in research.
    I agree. When I was in grad school we did alot of stats. After school, not so much. And these days, even if you do need stats, Excel does the serious work for you.

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