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Thread: Cal Poly Pomona or SLO?

  1. #1

    Cal Poly Pomona or SLO?

    I have not heard much about either in terms of their masters of planning programs..if I had to guess I would say SLO has the better program solely because it seems their whole school is architect-based and would seem because of that they would have more resources available for the whole department. But that is just a guess. Has anyone else heard anything about the quality of either of these schools' programs? I lived in SLO for a while and the school in general had a great reputation..but I've never heard anything about Pomona.

  2. #2
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    Pomona vs. SLO

    I got my MURP from Pomona, largely because at the time I wanted to stay in Greater LA (where I grew up) and wanted an evening program so that I could work as much as possible to pay for school (on average about 30 hours per week while I was in school). I liked Pomona, as it was primarily an older, working crowd (I was on the younger side, starting when I was 24) that was there because they really wanted to break into, or advance within, the planning profession.

    The Cal Poly Pomona network in Southern California is pretty strong (if that's where you want to end up), so I was able to get a decent-paying graduate internship almost immediately after I started the program. In my two years, I had two graduate internships in suburbs of LA, as well as a couple of paid research projects with professors that were writing policy papers and/or books, including one that I got to be second author on. The internships were definitely pivotal in helping me get a foot in the door, and ultimately get a full time position.

    Given the state of the economy now, I'm not too confident that would happen again, but I have heard it is still a fairly strong program, and continues to prepare planners for the practical world of municipal planning/zoning much more than more theory/design oriented schools such as USC and UCLA.

    I have friends/colleagues that went to SLO and really enjoyed it as well, but they were more looking for a full time planning program, and they didn't mind being a bit isolated up in SLO; they also like tipping cows, so they fit right in. SLO definitely has a higher overall academic reputation than Pomona (which for most subjects other than engineering, is still seen largely as a commuter school), and is probably seen as somewhere between Pomona and UCLA. However, given the size of the Pomona alumni network, employers definitely value the degree as well. Since moving from LA I have worked in the Bay Area and Seattle, and in both places routinely come across planners that also went to Pomona.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally posted by gobears View post
    I got my MURP from Pomona, largely because at the time I wanted to stay in Greater LA (where I grew up) and wanted an evening program so that I could work as much as possible to pay for school (on average about 30 hours per week while I was in school). I liked Pomona, as it was primarily an older, working crowd (I was on the younger side, starting when I was 24) that was there because they really wanted to break into, or advance within, the planning profession.

    The Cal Poly Pomona network in Southern California is pretty strong (if that's where you want to end up), so I was able to get a decent-paying graduate internship almost immediately after I started the program. In my two years, I had two graduate internships in suburbs of LA, as well as a couple of paid research projects with professors that were writing policy papers and/or books, including one that I got to be second author on. The internships were definitely pivotal in helping me get a foot in the door, and ultimately get a full time position.

    Given the state of the economy now, I'm not too confident that would happen again, but I have heard it is still a fairly strong program, and continues to prepare planners for the practical world of municipal planning/zoning much more than more theory/design oriented schools such as USC and UCLA.

    I have friends/colleagues that went to SLO and really enjoyed it as well, but they were more looking for a full time planning program, and they didn't mind being a bit isolated up in SLO; they also like tipping cows, so they fit right in. SLO definitely has a higher overall academic reputation than Pomona (which for most subjects other than engineering, is still seen largely as a commuter school), and is probably seen as somewhere between Pomona and UCLA. However, given the size of the Pomona alumni network, employers definitely value the degree as well. Since moving from LA I have worked in the Bay Area and Seattle, and in both places routinely come across planners that also went to Pomona.
    That's great information, thank you. I was contemplating how isolated San Luis Obispo is, that makes sense that you would have more opportunities and connections down in Pomona/LA. That's good to know that Pomona accommodates the students that work/intern during the day, that is going to be a big factor in my decision..I wonder if SLO has evening classes as well? I'll have to look into that.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian cng's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TheInternational View post
    That's great information, thank you. I was contemplating how isolated San Luis Obispo is, that makes sense that you would have more opportunities and connections down in Pomona/LA. That's good to know that Pomona accommodates the students that work/intern during the day, that is going to be a big factor in my decision..I wonder if SLO has evening classes as well? I'll have to look into that.
    I graduated with a MCRP from SLO in 2004. It's somewhat isolated compared to Pomona, but there's still handful of Central Coast jurisdictions you can use for case studies, or in some cases, Central Valley communities. It is definitely geared for the full-time student--but it was a good experience for me. While I was there, I was able to intern for San Luis Obispo County and the SLO County Housing Trust Fund. And given it was 2004, I was able to find work right away. In the last 6 years, I've worked in the Central Valley, in the city of LA, and now, in the outskirts of LA. I'd chime in that you'd want to consider your lifestyle environment... and SLO is a good place to be for nice weather, and the small coastal community vibe.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TheInternational View post
    That's great information, thank you. I was contemplating how isolated San Luis Obispo is, that makes sense that you would have more opportunities and connections down in Pomona/LA. That's good to know that Pomona accommodates the students that work/intern during the day, that is going to be a big factor in my decision..I wonder if SLO has evening classes as well? I'll have to look into that.
    Isolated? You make it sound like we are surrounded by cows . Ok, SLO is about 3 hours away from LA 3.5 to 4 hours from San Francisco. I don't know about evening classes. As an undergrad there, they had lots of evening classes.

    One thing you have to remember, especially planners out here in California, when you say "cal poly", we automatically think SLO. The alumni network is well established, and many many practicing professionals know what type of planner we will get with a newly minted grad from the real Cal Poly. My department employs two Cal Poly Students, one grad, one undergrad, and I am throughly impressed with their work ethic and grasp of concepts

    not to mention you might have me as a lecture next year, that's even cooler huh?
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

  6. #6
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    TheInternational--where in CA do you live?

    I was actually looking up those two schools as well, since I am planning to apply for Fall 2011 admission. I have friends who have attended both programs and all have very good things to say about the schools. I'm personally significantly more inclined toward Pomona because I live in Los Angeles and would rather live with my parents for the time being. I even went on to craigslist SLO to look at what an avg bedroom with apartment-mates would translate into. Looks like you'll easily pay about $1,000 per month in housing/utilities for any hole in the wall apt. Most programs take at least 2 years to complete when attending full-time. So, you're looking at mid $20k just for housing alone if you finish the program in 2 years. When I compared that to living at home and still getting a comparable education at Pomona, I didn't really have to think very hard about this. Honestly, I am trying really hard not to rack up really high student loan debt. Therefore, the housing issue alone is playing a big role for me. That and the fact that I know I want to work in Southern California and feel that going to school while interning in SoCal might facilitate that process. But who knows the likelihood of that these days.

    I'll be submitting my initial app to Pomona sometime this week

  7. #7
    Do a search for other threads... this topic has been visited many times. (My suggestion: go to the REAL Cal Poly).

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Cal Poly Pomona has a wonderful department of Urban & Regional Planning and is situated in a beautiful campus. Its proximity to Downtown Los Angeles is also a great plus!

    I went to CPP for undergrad, but was accepted to SLO as well. I can securely say that I am very happy with that decision. I recommend visiting both campuses (its a great roadtrip!) and meet with faculty members; find what truly interests you and interview those who will be helping guide your research.

    Best of luck with your applications.

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