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Thread: Applying to grad school next fall: my chances of acceptance

  1. #1
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    Applying to grad school next fall: my chances of acceptance

    Hello Cyburbian prospective students.

    Congrats on all those admissions. I've been following these forums for a couple months, but this is my first post. During that time, I decided to apply to grad school for urban planning. I know everyone is stressing out about where to study next fall and advising someone who hasn't applied yet is the last thing most of you want to do. If it's not a problem, could you guys offer thoughts on my prospects?

    The tale of the tape:
    BA, Colgate University, '06
    Undergraduate majors: Economics and History (wrote honors thesis on economic development, labor, housing, and declining quality of life in Lowell, MA in 19th century)
    Cumulative GPA: 3.67
    GRE: expecting/aiming for 1350-1400
    Work experience:
    - Research assistant for economics professor to develop database of 1820, 1830, and 1840 censuses and methodology for geographic interpretation of demographics and economic development.
    - Research analyst responsible for data collection, market analysis, forecasting, short-term research projects and reports, briefing clients, and contributing articles for our newsletter. My specialty was large printers used to produce architectural plans, construction drawings, and signage. I was responsible for reports that advised clients like HP on the need of technology to fulfill zoning and regulatory structural requirements, plus small business and public considerations for size, color, texture, placement, and location of signage and decorative graphics. Hence, I think I can connect my work to the built environment.
    - Likely to grab a seat on my town's planning commission. Possibly zoning as well.
    - Trying to volunteer at local planning agencies.

    My interest is in land use and economic development and I think North Carolina or Cornell would be a good fit. I think I'll try for Harvard and MIT on the possibility that they might be impressed with my work experience.

    Thanks for any input provided.

  2. #2
    1. Why do you need someone else to reassure you of your chances? Apply, make the best case you can, and see if you get in. There's nothing else you can do.
    2. Do you think other prospective students can objectively answer this with any degree of authority on the matter?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    biggest lil state there is
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    Ok, as Chocolatechip said, I don't think any of us applicants are in a position of authority to comment on admissions. As many of the people on this year's thread seem to say, it's so hard to tell why one school picks someone, rejects someone, offers funding, and so on!

    Beyond that - with your predicted GRE, I have to imagine that you would be competitive for top programs, as your stats seem to match up with their class profiles. And I do agree that your experience is pretty strong, but remember, a lot of it is going to be the way you swing it in your essay. I think it's pretty true when these schools say they look at things 'holistically', so you never know which aspect of your experience is going to stand out to a particular admissions committee member.

    I know this all sounds vague, but I feel like it's all anyone can say outside of being a member of an adcom.

    Best of luck.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    P.S. did your name based off the character on Parks and Rec?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    North Jersey
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    You have a similar but more qualified background than I have right now and I got into 5 of 7 schools this year (including UNC and Cornell) and generous financial aid (not including Cornell, LOL). If you're applying for planning programs, in my OPINION you should have no problem getting accepted at UNC and Cornell as long as you have decent essays, recs.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    A little low for MIT and Harvard but a stellar personal statement could make up for it.

  7. #7
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    You'll be fine.

  8. #8
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    Stratford, CT
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    Thanks everyone for the feedback.

    @manonthemoon I think understand what you're saying. I appreciate that admissions committees don't use a magic formula to compare applicants. The key seems to be to make a convincing argument that you as a person add value to their program.

    And yes, it is a tip of the hat to Parks and Rec. It's one of my favorite shows on television.

    @chocolatechip I'm looking for an honest appraisal of my limitations, ways I can improve my profile, and whether my experience actually merits being emphasized in a Statement of Purpose. I realize applicants and students can't authoritatively know what admission committees will value, but then why have a forum? I'm amazed how you can read my post and quickly judge that I'm merely looking for someone to comfort me. Your post is confrontational for no good reason and you seem to take pride in avoiding any pretense of geniality. The lounge seems to be a constructive place in general where people actually help one another.

  9. #9
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    Your statistics look great but it all depends on what any particular department is looking for with their incoming class.

    Talk to prospective students and I can't stress how important it is to visit those places where you really want to go. I visited my top choice and met with the department head. He only had a half an hour to talk before he had to go to a meeting with colleagues but we spoke for a full sixty minutes... after which he gave me a personal tour of the department. We ran into the admissions coordinator who pulled out my file and accepted me on the spot. I think this is a rare occurrence but I can't stress enough how important it is for them to be able to put a face to a name. Makes it that much harder to reject you

    Furthermore, your statistics are better than mine in every category and I had no problem getting into reputable graduate programs.

    Good luck!

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