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Thread: Recent grad - next step?

  1. #1
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    Recent grad - next step?

    Hello everyone,

    I am a recent grad from University of Illinois Urbana Champaign with a bs in environmental studies. My ending gpa was a 2.96 due to personal issues my sophomore year. I just recently discovered urban planning and obviously with no prior background I'd probably need a masters to continue. My gre was 720 quantitative 530 verbal and 4 analytical. I have some policy coursework but my stats grades arent good. Do I even have a chance without going back to undergrad to get better grades? As far as experience I have an independent study researching a global policy on carbon emissons I don't know if that's relevant or not.

  2. #2
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Welcome to Cyburbia. How do you like our new look?

    On to your question - it is impossible to give you an answer to what you are asking, there are just too many variables. Check out the student lounge and do some search for past questions such as this, it could be some help. In my experience most schools don't focus on just grades, or just personal statements, they look at the whole application. Call some professors at the universities you are interested in and find out more about the programs. Apply and explain your situation in your personal statement why you would be a great candidate.

    Experience is hard to come by right now, but volunteer and anything else that can be used as justification is a positive. Good luck and keep us updated on how your school journey is going.
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  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Don't worry about the GPA. I graduated with a 2.6 and still found a job. The key thing is to get experience.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian HomerJ's avatar
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    I'm a (somewhat) recent graduate of UIUC's undergraduate planning program and I suggest:

    1) Contact Stacy Harwood (she is the master's program director) or Alice Novak (undergrad director). They won't be able to tell you on the spot if you would be accepted into the planning program but they can certainly tell you the best moves to make for improving your chances. Plus they are both incredibly nice and approachable people.

    2) Look into finding a position as an hourly assistant or an internship with the state geological/natural history/water survey. They are very large organizations and are often hiring undergrads/recent grads. If you find a position doing any sort of GIS work (which was my very first internship), you will learn some skills that can transfer into the planning profession.

    Aside from that, look in the career advice forums here and the student lounge, this site can be very informative when you're trying to gain a perspective of what "planning" really is.
    Last edited by HomerJ; 27 Oct 2011 at 11:26 AM. Reason: It's Harwood not Hardwood lol
    Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    I, too, earned by BUP from UIUC, although almost a decade ago. I actually had positions at several state agencies down there doing GIS work (non-planning). The first position utilized Rockware GIS (which was later bought out by ESRI and is sold as a separate product). Keep in mind, these positions expect you to know the software already. I also had an unpaid transportation internship (which I cleverly combined with an unrelated economic development project). All of the "planning" internships were already taken by graduate planning students, so I went this back door route, landed an additional summer planning internship in Chicago, and then came back and FINALLY earned a planning-related internship with the county. I agree you will have some transferable skills BUT you need to market them, preferably as writing samples or a portfolio for admissions.

    I never applied to the MUP program at UIUC but it is very selective. You have an advantage if you have a BUP, but they are still very selective about everyone else, including other people with other degrees at UIUC. Urbana-Champaign is such a big school with so many unrelated programs that sometimes alums can be viewed as outsiders. I have had classes with both Dr. Harwood and Dr. Novak as well as volunteered for several years with ESLARP in East St. Louis. ESLARP has volunteer outreach weekends all year long so you might want to look into it. I "think" they might cover transportation/housing costs or that might be reserved during the school year.

    Hope this helps-
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  6. #6
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    If you want to stick with environmental consulting, your bachelor's degree will likely carry you pretty far. My employer is interviewing environmental consultants right now and only requires a BS/BA in an environmental field. Look for entry level positions or even short-period internships to get some experience on your resume. There are some really cool environmental jobs out there right now! Good luck!

    Also, don't worry about the GPA. Just don't list it on your resume.
    Occupy Your Brain!

  7. #7
    Most grad school applications have a section for additional information. That would be a great opportunity to explain (mitigate) the circumstances of your sophomore year to the admissions committee. Your GRE score is probably high enough to make up for the lower GPA. Research and apply to grad schools that are of interest. I also agree with the other posters regarding GPA. It's irrelevant in the working work, especially when contrasted with experience.

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