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Thread: Questions from a GIS major applying planning master

  1. #1
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    Questions from a GIS major applying planning master

    Hi,

    I am senior GIS major currently studying in Canada, applying for master program of planning in the US.

    As a GIS major undergrad, I don't have too much experience directly related to planning, but I did have a summer job helping develop a GIS for a planning department of a local municipality. I did two other internships in two good IT companies but they are not so relevant.

    As for recommendation letters, all are academic. One is from my thesis supervisor who is in planning school, but other two are from my profs in my own department. I think they will write strong letters but still the problem is that they are not so relevant to planning.

    The only thing that gives me some confidence to apply is my GPA (3.6), GRE (1580, 4.5) and TOEFL (111).

    I do have a passion in planning, but I am afraid that passion is not enough as there are so many qualified applicants. So I was wondering whether I will have a chance to get into one of the top 10 planning schools if I could write a solid PS.

    And I would more than happy if any of you could give me some suggestions on how to make up my deficiency in work experience, or other suggestions about how I could stand out from other applicants with planning background and more experience.

    Thanks a lot in advance!

    Clara

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    No matter who you are, the personal statement will be the most important piece of your application package. You need to make an argument for why the program you are applying for is right for you, why you are right for them, and how your background ties into all of that.

    Your numbers are fine. A year or two in the "real world" always helps, but even if you've had a small amount of exposure to planning, you will be in a good position.

    The question then becomes, what do you want to do with your planning degree? Because, depending on that, the "top 10 schools" will look very different. Its not like law school - going to Harvard for community development isn't going to help you in the long run. In fact, it might hold you back.

  3. #3
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    Thank you Rumbach. Your thoughts are really helpful to me.

    My interest in planning lies in environment and development. And I hope my GIS background can be an asset and be applied in my graduate study.

    I have to admit that I have long been dreaming of attending a "top" school, but you are right, top 10 make sense only if they are suitable for me. I had Harvard on my list, but now I am rethinking about whether to apply as they don't provide a concentration that fit in with my background and interest.

    Any suggestions for personal statement? I know it is really really important for my application, but I found it so difficult to write... Do you think I should emphasize more on my interest in planning or my GIS background that makes me competent for graduate studies?

    Thanks again!

  4. #4
    claireyang--what makes you passionate about planning? How will you apply your GIS background to it? That is the kind of information that should go into your SoP.

    Your GRE is superb, but at the most selective schools extra-curricular activities are very important. What have you done that separates you from any other person? What have you been responsible for? Who have you been in charge of? How have you spent your free time?

    But as Rumbach says, "Top 10" in planning is less important. MUP programs tend to be focused on the issues confronting their related urban area.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally posted by theblindsage View post
    claireyang--what makes you passionate about planning? How will you apply your GIS background to it? That is the kind of information that should go into your SoP.

    Your GRE is superb, but at the most selective schools extra-curricular activities are very important. What have you done that separates you from any other person? What have you been responsible for? Who have you been in charge of? How have you spent your free time?

    But as Rumbach says, "Top 10" in planning is less important. MUP programs tend to be focused on the issues confronting their related urban area.
    Thank you for your advice! I have revised my SOP for hundreds of times according to the valuable advice I got from here and from my profs and friends. Writing the SOP is really frustrating, but I am glad to read it when I finish

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