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Thread: New Planetizen rankings

  1. #1
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    New Planetizen rankings

    The new guide to graduate planning programs is coming out on Monday if anyone is interested.

  2. #2
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Don't waste your money. Just my $.02. If they did it as a service (like Forbes or World News and Report) I would say interesting, but since they want you to pay for pretty much nothing, don't waste your money.

    I repeat - DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY!


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  3. #3
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Yes, save your money and go to this link (The 2010 Association of Collegate Schools of Planning Guide to Undergraduate and Graduate Education in Planning) http://www.acsp.org/sites/default/fi...10_Guide_0.pdf and read it and make your own educated decision.

  4. #4
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    Agreed, Do not waste any money.

    Here are my ranking criteria
    1. Accredited
    2. In-state Tuition also include relocation costs.
    3. Intern potential - by today's economy volunteer
    86. Big Name School - REPEAT - Do Not go into debt over a name.
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    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JNA View post
    Agreed, Do not waste any money.

    Here are my ranking criteria
    1. Accredited
    2. In-state Tuition also include relocation costs.
    3. Intern potential - by today's economy volunteer
    86. Big Name School - REPEAT - Do Not go into debt over a name.
    I am going to add...

    4. Program Fit-choose a school that offers the kind of planning program you want, i.e. if you are interested in urban design don't choose a policy based program, think about geography of where you want to practice as some states have a lot of particular regulations that you'd be better off learning in the local planning program.
    5. Program Size-is the incoming class 40 or 90? Numbers dramatically change the educational experience.
    6. Professor Collaboration-what opportunities will there be to conduct research or work on projects/papers with professors at the school.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  6. #6
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    While rankings aren't everything, sometimes the prestige of the school/program can factor into the minds of the people doing the hiring. Especially if you are applying to higher end design/consulting firms, real estate development companies, or even some non-profits. Additionally, name recognition and faculty quality may be important to those seeking to pursue a PhD after their Masters.

    All that being said, for those that have followed the rankings since Planetizen started publishing them in 2006 will probably be surprised at how the top 25 looks in 2011 edition.

  7. #7
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by NickSticks View post
    While rankings aren't everything, sometimes the prestige of the school/program can factor into the minds of the people doing the hiring. Especially if you are applying to higher end design/consulting firms, real estate development companies, or even some non-profits. Additionally, name recognition and faculty quality may be important to those seeking to pursue a PhD after their Masters.

    All that being said, for those that have followed the rankings since Planetizen started publishing them in 2006 will probably be surprised at how the top 25 looks in 2011 edition.
    I disagree to a point. I have met zero people who hire based on the school. Sure candidates get in the door if they attended X university, but the actual hire does not have anything to do with the school attended. I guarantee no one would hire a guy from Harvard because he went there. They will hire the guy from Ball State all day if he is the better candidate.

    I repeat, DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY. Plantizen is money hungry. They provide little to no service to our profession. They could be a great asset, but instead of providing a needed service, they are taking the APA route and trying to nickle and dime planners.

    Check out the ACSP guide and save yourself the money. If you want to know the Planetizen rankings, make a guess at Ivies first, West Coast second, and some random schools in between. If you made that guess you would probably be right, and have saved $25.
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  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by NickSticks View post
    While rankings aren't everything, sometimes the prestige of the school/program can factor into the minds of the people doing the hiring. Especially if you are applying to higher end design/consulting firms, real estate development companies, or even some non-profits. Additionally, name recognition and faculty quality may be important to those seeking to pursue a PhD after their Masters.

    All that being said, for those that have followed the rankings since Planetizen started publishing them in 2006 will probably be surprised at how the top 25 looks in 2011 edition.
    How's it look?

    I can only see the top 10 on Planetizen.

  9. #9
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    Frugal Fact

    Just FYI, tuition at Cornell is $25,815 per annum; OOS tuition at Ball State is $29,200 per annum. Big name school does not necessarily mean more expensive-

    If you're having a dilemma on where to apply/attend, try making a decision tree; it is planning school after all.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Dharmster's avatar
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    I am old. I worked on getting the first version of the ACSP guide on the web. I agree that buying the Planitizen rankings is a waste of money. I also question any rankings that put Cornell over Berkeley. I realize California as a state is hurting but I have met plenty of Berkeley grads in my career. I can't say the same for Cornell grads. As for name recognition my advice is to ask people in the field. I was fortunate to do my undergrad in urban studies. The professors I asked al told me to go to the school I went to. The other fact is that all state universities have increased both their in state and out of state tuitions. Thus add up the cost of two years of foregone income, two years of living expenses and two years of tuition. Your big decision is whether to get a planning degree, not which school you go to. Finally, the school you go to does matter, but only based on individual circumstances. I work at US DOT and the people with planning degrees have degrees from a wide variety of schools but generally top 15 programs. I used to work at the Inter-American Development bank and before that a small beltway bandit consulting firm and I was one of the few with a state school degree. On the other hand if you work in munciplan planning local connections are more important. MIT is a top flight planning program but it has no network of planners in local planning because few alumni go onto work for local government. So yes, take Planitizen with a grain of salt and ASK people in the type of planning you want to do what they think is a good program. Also in the current job market think long and hard whether a degree is worth it before obsessing over which schoo to attend.

  11. #11
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    I'll just be entering a master's program in the Fall, so I won't opine on the utility of Planetizen's rankings, but I did notice something interesting about this set compared to the 2009 set. In 2009, a survey was sent to practitioners as well as educators and students, and this newest version seems to have consulted only educators and students. To me, this seems like it may favor more academic/less practical programs, which might explain Cornell's leap and Berkeley's sag (although why then Harvard's fall from grace?). Just food for thought - certainly might explain why, as NickSticks pointed out, these rankings look a lot different from previous ones.

  12. #12
    Rutgers is up to 3 so I think the rankings are great haha.

    In all seriousness, do the Planetizen Rankings matter? Only for us to argue amongst ourselves. These rankings aren't like B-School Rankings or Law School Rankings, which really do matter.

    I think a lot of times a school's overall reputation has more of an impact than the Planning program's rep. Some of the high-end private schools get overrated because of their university reputations, when in the end we are talking about planning here, and there is a lot of meat and potatoes type of work that a planner has to do on a regular basis that doesn't require one to know the depth of the theoretic topics covered ad nauseam in an academic setting.

    Are some programs better than others? Of course, but planning school ins't like B-School, where if you don't have a Big 6 MBA your chance at a top firm doesn't exist.

    On a side note, I don't get the hatred for Planetizen. They provide a good website for information and don't charge for it. They have other things they change for, but it isn't a racket like APA.
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    For everyone complaining about "big name" schools not being worth the price tag, the Planetizen rankings take this into account. "Program characteristics" include financial characteristics like tuition and merit or need-based aid.

    That also probably explains Cornell's strong performance relative to other "big name" schools. Not only is the tuition $25,815, but every single student receives a $6,000 stipend for being a graduate assistant, bringing the effective cost to $19,815 plus living expenses, and Ithaca is a much cheaper place to live then any Northeastern or Western city. MIT, meanwhile, has a nominal tuition of a whopping $37,500, but gives merit aid to 98% of enrollees with an average award amount of $25,000, bringing the effective cost lower then even in-state tuition at a lot of schools.

    Sure, there are cheaper schools, like Clemson, with an in-state price tag of only $8,000 (out-of-state, MIT is cheaper after you factor in the relative amount of financial aid the two give out). But the median starting salary for 2008 Clemson grads was $35,000, while the median starting salary for 2008 MIT grads was $65,000. Now that's penny-wise and pound-foolish.

    Quote Originally posted by RU_Planning View post
    In all seriousness, do the Planetizen Rankings matter? Only for us to argue amongst ourselves. These rankings aren't like B-School Rankings or Law School Rankings, which really do matter.

    I think you're right that they're qualitatively different from business or law rankings - in those cases, simply being higher on the rankings increases your career prospects for no reason other than the rankings themselves. However, I do think the planning school rankings give valuable and roughly accurate information about the quality of the school itself. Employment prospects for a top ten grad aren't better than for a lesser-known grad simply because of the rankings themselves, they're better because the school was better. And it's hard to argue that the top-ranked schools don't offer better employment opportunities - the data suggest that more of their grads find employment and at higher salaries than the grads of schools lower down the rankings.

    While the rankings are no substitute for personal knowledge of the field you want to move into, I still think they're a valuable resource for potential students who can't possibly be expected to personally sift through reams of data on each school.

    I will say that I think it downright foolish that they appeared to remove the opinion of practitioners as an element of the ranking. Indeed, for someone who wants to go into planning practice rather than academia, I would argue that the opinion of practitioners (read: potential employers) means a hell of a lot more than what a professor thinks.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian kalimotxo's avatar
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    The apparent schizophrenia of their rankings suggests to me that if there is any potential value in their system, it probably has not been realized yet. Having just gone through a top 20 ranked program with friends in other lesser and better ranked schools, I can confidently say that objectively comparing "planning" programs is pretty much impossible. Sure, each program has it's core requirements, but beyond that most programs are to be judged at the quality and breadth of university-wide offerings. Almost every planning curriculum requires that one choose a specialization. For someone interested in, for example, urban design or technical GIS applications, there are "top ten" schools that would simply fail at preparing them for jobs in their respective fields. Take these rankings too seriously at your own detriment, because choosing School A over School B based on rankings without seriously considering how the curriculum and faculty fit with your own specific interests is truly "penny-wise, pound-foolish".

    In addition to that, the average salary stats are self-reported and Planetizen provides no information on the sample size or sampling methodology. They're about as believable as the quarterly news articles touting planning as a hot career.
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    Quote Originally posted by dferry01 View post
    Sure, there are cheaper schools, like Clemson, with an in-state price tag of only $8,000 (out-of-state, MIT is cheaper after you factor in the relative amount of financial aid the two give out). But the median starting salary for 2008 Clemson grads was $35,000, while the median starting salary for 2008 MIT grads was $65,000. Now that's penny-wise and pound-foolish.
    Most Clemson graduates also happen to stick around South Carolina which has a much lower cost of living than most places in the country. So I'm not sure how much further ahead MIT graduates actually are in pay. Then of course Clemson's program offers a great deal of financial aid as well. Most students in the program have an assistantship which takes care of all their tuition regardless of whether they're from out of state.

    I'd imagine the type and caliber of students attracted to MIT are much different though, so that'd definitely explain some disparity. The type of students a program attracts isn't really indicative of the quality of the faculty or the education though.
    Last edited by Blide; 08 May 2011 at 2:17 AM.

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    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by RU_Planning View post
    On a side note, I don't get the hatred for Planetizen. They provide a good website for information and don't charge for it. They have other things they change for, but it isn't a racket like APA.
    Off-topic:
    I would imagine hatred is a pretty strong word that has never been used at least by me. I think we joke a lot, but in reality, they just try VERY hard to provide a service - and my (as well as many others) opinion is that they do it poorly. They are "free" to view, but for any service they charge a fee. Their AICP guide a perfect example. Junk, and they charge for it. The States put out free material that is phenomenal. My argument is that they are trying very hard to be important and are charging planners for services that they should be giving away for free.

    Not hatred. Just annoyance.
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  17. #17
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dferry01 View post
    That also probably explains Cornell's strong performance relative to other "big name" schools. Not only is the tuition $25,815, but every single student receives a $6,000 stipend for being a graduate assistant, bringing the effective cost to $19,815 plus living expenses, and Ithaca is a much cheaper place to live then any Northeastern or Western city.
    Somewhat off-topic: I'm a planner in the Ithaca area. Planning culture is quite strong around here, but only a couple working planners I've met are Cornell grads. SUNY ES&F grads seem more prominent around here, and nobody has scoffed at my SUNY/University at Buffalo pedigree.

    The cost of living in Ithaca is quite low compared to New York or Boston, but it has the most expensive housing in upstate New York. Because of the very large student population (not just Cornell, but also Ithaca College), rents are inflated in Tompkins County. In Collegetown, a decent two-bedroom apartment will go as much as $2,000 a month. Affordable workforce housing isn't on the agenda in cities like Buffalo and Rochester, but it's a front-and-center issue here.

    That being said, Cornell has an excellent planning program, and Ithaca is the archetypal college town. You can't go wrong here. Just be prepared for the school's legendary workload.
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  18. #18
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    The whole rankings thing seems rather pointless and arbitrary to me.

    I went to Memphis for my MCRP. (If Planetizen lists the schools in order of rankings, you'll probably have to flip very, very far toward the back of the book to find Memphis.) Nationally, Memphis doesn't compare to Cornell or Harvard or MIT. But Memphis has never tried to compete with those schools. The program at Memphis is primarily focused on providing a generalist education (with opportunities for specializations) and preparing emerging planners with the skills necessary to successfully find muni/county/state planning jobs in the Mid-South region.

    And they do it quite well. Of the many, many people I know who graduated in my class and the classes before and after, 100 percent were employed in just those types of jobs within a very short time (couple of months) of finishing the program.

    If a program is very straightforward about its aims, and it succeeds by doing exactly what it says it can do, then how can a person reasonably compare that to schools with completely different goals? The programs at Cornell, Harvard, and MIT undoubtedly have very different goals than the programs at Memphis, Jackson State, and UT-Arlington. Trying to compare programs with such different goals/orientations on some sort of continuum is just plain silly or--to conclude the same way I started--pointless and arbitrary.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Dharmster's avatar
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    Hmmm. Do they document how they use this in their formula for calculating the rankings (like US News & World Report)? Honestly, I prefer the Consumer Reports approach where they rate based irrespective of price which is disclosed next to the rating. They then identify best buys which are based upon those products which have high value for money. For undergraudate colleges, you have a similar system where some rankings like US News & World Report rate based irrespective of price and others like Kiplingers rate based on value. I think both have a role to play and would have preferred if Plantizen has rated based irrespective of price and then provided information on the actual price paid.

    On a similar note, the Wall Steet Journal did a story on the rate of return of a undergraduate education. Not surpisingly big name schools did well in returning the biggest total return on investment. However, the top state universities did better on the rate of return on investment. In other words, Harvard may be the best you can buy for your kids but if you can only afford Michigan you are still making a smart investment decision.



    Quote Originally posted by dferry01 View post
    For everyone complaining about "big name" schools not being worth the price tag, the Planetizen rankings take this into account. "Program characteristics" include financial characteristics like tuition and merit or need-based aid.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally posted by SpremenitiSvet View post
    Just FYI, tuition at Cornell is $25,815 per annum; OOS tuition at Ball State is $29,200 per annum. Big name school does not necessarily mean more expensive-

    If you're having a dilemma on where to apply/attend, try making a decision tree; it is planning school after all.
    Tuition at Ball State is $20,960. The $29,200 figure includes estimated cost of living and all other fees. Cornell's website says their tuition is $27,040, not including housing, food, etc.

  21. #21
    Anyone know what employers think of programs that are not accredited by the PAB?

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    I know that the University of Tennessee's now-defunct planning program was highly regarded for a long time. It was not accredited by the PAB.

    Again, though, it probably comes down to regional reputation, which is in my opinion, the only 'ranking' that really matters for most planning programs. As an example, the planning program at Jackson State University in Mississippi probably holds little weight outside of Mississippi and neighboring states; however, it is one of only a handful of programs in this region, and its graduates are typically able to find decent-paying employment in the region soon after graduating.

  23. #23
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by manoverde84 View post
    Anyone know what employers think of programs that are not accredited by the PAB?
    The PAB is important because it affects your ability to get accredited. If you don't care about AICP, then it probably doesn't matter as much.
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  24. #24
    Cyburbian Dharmster's avatar
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    Even if you do care about AICP, you only have to work a whole additional year (that's right one year) if you have a unaccredited masters degree in planning. That's part of the problem of AICP. They make it far too easy to get AICP (keeping it with CM requirements is another story).

    Quote Originally posted by Hink_Planner View post
    The PAB is important because it affects your ability to get accredited. If you don't care about AICP, then it probably doesn't matter as much.

  25. #25
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Moderator note:
    Just our usual reminder: with the ranking list out, and the full reports in circulation:

    1) Please don't ask for free copies of the report (.pdf) from other users, or offer to give copies to others.

    2) Respect the copyright of the publisher. Any posts related to the reports should be done per the fair use doctrine under United States copyright law. From Wikipedia:
    In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—

    1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

    2. the nature of the copyrighted work;

    3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

    4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

    Basically, use your judgement when you quote from or cite the report. Thanks!
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