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Thread: List of schools - good, bad and ugly?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian RPfresh's avatar
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    List of schools - good, bad and ugly?

    I was wondering what Cyburbians thought about a few programs as I am trying to transfer from a California community college and am going to start applying soon. I've got a 3.0 and have completed the normal urban planning GEs (I think). I won't be able to get financial aid due to my family's tax bracket, but cost is an issue.

    I'm pretty much set on SF State; I love the city and grew up an hour and a half south, so I wouldn't really be leaving my home grounds to go here. That and as an in-state resident the costs are low. But I want to check out other programs as well. Here's a list of schools I'm considering, some of which I know a lot about, some of which I don't.

    McGill in Montreal - has a 'geography of urban spaces' degree or something that seems really interesting. Pricey for sure, though, and not sure I could transfer in. Oh and I love Montreal.

    Portland State has always been an option and is a close backup. Not sure I want to be part of the Portland cult though (although I might have the wrong impression).

    University of Washington Seattle seems interesting and I've been told is pretty 'radical' in the old sense

    Ryerson and York, Toronto Never been to the golden horseshoe but I've heard good things. Any Canadians have opinions on these places?

    I'm very open to suggestions but I've given up on the higher echelons of upper education bc my transcript isn't that hot and I'm not made of hundred dollar bills. I'm picky and don't like certain cities (LA, San Diego, Boston - personal taste) and can't live in smaller areas without suffocating (AND I believe urban planning colleges should ALWAYS be in cities). If there's any college that avoids those pitfalls and sticks out, feel free to plug it.

    Thanks for reading and responding, if anyone does.

    RP

  2. #2
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    Hey RPfresh, it's interesting to see you post about California and Canadian schools because I'm in the same situation as well! I currently live in Toronto and going to community college too, aspiring to get a Master's in Transportation Planning. But if my United States immigrant process goes well, I am moving to Northern California in San Francisco and going to school there.

    So I'm assuming you're looking for an undergrad in urban planning? There are a few schools in Canada who offer bachelor's in planning, but keep in mind a bachelor's will likely only get you into entry level jobs. A Master's degree is better. But if you're set on only getting a bachelor's, then I know for sure Ryerson University in Toronto offers an undergrad in urban planning.

    Here is the list of Canadian universities that have urban planning programs:

    http://www.cip-icu.ca/web/la/en/pa/5...1/template.asp

    As for school rankings in Toronto, here is my opinion based on what I hear.

    York University - It's a university, but it's fairly bottom tier. Most people don't know the school is surrounded by ghettos, making campus somewhat unsafe at night. And the recent teacher strike that shut down the school for 3-4 months doesn't help its reputation either. As the saying goes, "If you can hold a fork, you can go to York." Hot women go here though.

    Ryerson University - A good, mid tier university. It used to be a college and only has been a university for a short period of time. Awesome location, it's at Yonge/Dundas, right in the middle of the most entertaining part of downtown. Some classes start at 8:00 a.m. though, so that's a downer.

    University of Toronto - Top tier school, it's considered one of the best universities in Canada. However, I have a lot of friends who go to UofT and they dislike the school. The fact that the school drops grades to boost their label (e.g. if you get an A on an assignment, the professor has to justify that reason). Also, class sizes are like the size of hockey arenas, but it will be smaller if you're going for Master's.

    Also,

    McGill University - This is most likely the best university in Canada, it's always ranked #1. It's located in downtown Montreal and has a beautiful mountain adjacent to it. However, it's also difficult to get in. I checked the Maclean's magazine and it said you needed at least an 85% to be considered for admission.

    If you want, I made a list on my computer of urban planning schools in Canada and in California. I made it for myself because of the situation I'm in, but I think it also could be useful for you. Let me know.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian kalimotxo's avatar
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    Off-topic:
    Quote Originally posted by RPfresh View post
    (AND I believe urban planning colleges should ALWAYS be in cities).
    That's a pretty huge generalization. What about smaller towns and rural areas? Do they not have planning issues? Should the smaller towns be expected to just hire these big city-educated planners and embrace their inner Los Angeles?

    Many Cyburbians have studied/worked/lived in these smaller towns, and that shouldn't discount the worthiness of our studies or experience. I'd just suggest you consider your audience a little better before disregarding such a sizable chunk of the planning world. Carry on.
    Process and dismissal. Shelter and location. Everybody wants somewhere.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Well said Kalimotxo.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian RPfresh's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by kalimotxo View post
    Off-topic:


    That's a pretty huge generalization. What about smaller towns and rural areas? Do they not have planning issues? Should the smaller towns be expected to just hire these big city-educated planners and embrace their inner Los Angeles?

    Many Cyburbians have studied/worked/lived in these smaller towns, and that shouldn't discount the worthiness of our studies or experience. I'd just suggest you consider your audience a little better before disregarding such a sizable chunk of the planning world. Carry on.
    I see your point and it is valid. I wasn't thinking about planning in small towns, and odds are that's what most of Cyburbia does. I guess for me I only want to be planning in big cities, so being in a city only makes sense but I agree that's not everyone's cup of tea.

    deity307 - I do want a master's in urban planning, but want to get a BA first. I hope to master in International Planning, hopefully at NYU because they are a leading school in that field. This selection of schools is just for a preliminary degree. And it'd be cool to see your list - are there any good planning schools in Vancouver? It's small but I'm down for that city.

    As far as CA, have you visited yet? SF is great and so is Berkeley and various other parts of the Bay Area. Are you also considering LA as well? It is definitely an acquired taste and some, like me, have never acquired it. As a transit planner both major CA cities would be interesting cases - San Francisco is relatively small (800,000) but has two transit systems and is, I believe, the next American city behind NYC as far as percentage of residents who don't have cars, while LA is of course the exact opposite, with the greater Bay Area (San Jose etc) somewhere in between.

    If you do make it to SF hit me up, I'm greater bay local and would be glad to show a fellow urban student around the area. PM me your list if you would, thanks.

  6. #6
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    A few thoughts about Ryerson and University of Toronto:

    I did my undergrad at U of T. I would say *it* is the number one school in Canada, not McGill. It provides you with a fantastic education. But its planning department is a joke. Planning is in the same department as geography, which can make sense when you think about it, but I have found no other schools that put planning in with geography during my grad school search, so I think that says something. I also knew a few geography profs at U of T, and they all but completely disregarded the planning program. Also, the course offerings are pretty sparse. Basically, U of T is a huge school and can therefore offer a lot of programs, so some programs are better than others.

    As for Ryerson, what I've seen seems to be mixed. I knew a Ryerson urban planning grad student who could, in no way, articulate why he wanted to study urban planning. I realize that this could very easily be just one case, but I took it as a bad sign. He was a grad student, for goodness' sake. Then, on the other hand, there is a Ryerson alum who works in Pittsburgh, is brilliant, and has a really cool job researching at a local university. But she went to a school in Quebec somewhere for her master's (Laval, maybe?), and I'm wondering if maybe that's where she got all her awesome urban design knowledge.

    Just thought I'd throw my two cents in!

  7. #7
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    Regarding McGill

    I just started at McGill University for a Master of Urban Planning. I can tell you it is far from pricey at only 15,000 a year and so far I am really enjoying the program. Overall, my classmates also are enjoying the program. The program is extremely hands on. The classes correspond well together. So far it has been very team orientated.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    I just went through the admissions process last year, so i'll throw my 2-cents in...

    York: We'll you've heard the saying about York by deity....it's definitely true for its undergrad program but less so for its grad programs...there are some min standards. The negative points about the campus are all true though.

    UofT:I went there for my undergrad and really wish i hadn't....massive classes, indifferent profs, unfair grading etc....The only redeeming quality was that you're in the heart of Toronto, i city i absolutely love. That being said, its grad program is quite different...i dont think the comments by rbolich are really true...yes the program is housed in the Geog dept, but the program's value depends on what you are looking for in a degree. UofT's program is great from a theoretical point of view, and if you want to do a phd, this is probably the place you want to go to...just not much work is done from a practical point of view.

    Ryerson:The master's program is brand new, and yes they have a few kinks to work out. That being said, i found their program the most interesting and it was my top choice. They are extremely practical, your projects revolve around current development in Toronto (i think this year they will be working on the redevelopment of the Hockey Hall of Fame...imagine that on your resume...) but i may be wrong. Anyway, they have great links to City Hall, and if you want a practical program and a good lead for a job in the GTA, this is the place to go to.

    MontrealNot much experience. Got in for my undergrad but decided not to go...its a great campus, i love the city and especially the people, the food, the culture...its breathtaking. The only problem is (and this is my perception) that as an anglophone, you will find it very difficult to get a job locally (or within the province for that matter) and especially if you plan on working in the public sector or have to deal with them regularly...forget it.

    Some other recommendations i would offer are Queens, UBC, and Waterloo, all great programs and each with their own strengths, it just depends on what exactly you're looking for.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    I'm sorry, i only just noticed that you were looking for an undergrad program. In that case:

    York: Stay away from

    Ryerson: Better for their masters

    UofT: I'd stay away from but there are some redeeming qualities.

    Montreal: if you dont want to work in Montreal afterwards this would would probably be your top choice...you'll have a blast in Montreal...as long as you can survive the cold...oh so cold, so very cold

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