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Thread: MURP: Am I competetive?

  1. #1
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    MURP: Am I competetive?

    Hi guys,

    I am an international student from Nepal and just got my BA this May. Its been really difficult for me to figure out what kind of rankings different schools for planning have and also how difficult it is to get in them. So, I was hoping some feedback on my chances at the schools I have listed below considering my qualification. I'm applying for fall 2012 so time is running out for me in terms of applying.
    Here's my Bio:

    Interest: MURP
    Community Development, Social Policy, International Development. I'm looking more at working with non-profits than governments and am eventually planning on working outside the US in more developing nations.

    Undergraduate:
    GPA: 3.317
    BA in Sociology and International Relations from Beloit College (Ranked around 60)

    GRE:
    Verbal: 166 (97%)
    Quant: 157(77%)
    AW: 4.5(72%)

    Work Experience:
    I graduated in May 2011 so I have almost no work experience. I did conduct a fully funded independent research on social capital in a slum in Mumbai, India over winter break of my senior year however. Also, my thesis paper addressed air pollution in Kathmandu, Nepal and proposed the restructuring of the public transport system as a potential solution.

    Language Skills:
    Nepali(native), English, Intermediate Hindi, Intermediate Japanese

    Schools I'm Applying To:
    University of Illinois - Urbana Champagne
    University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
    Portland State University
    Rutgers, The State University of New York
    University of Hawaii - Manoa
    Alabama A&M Univ
    Univ of Cincinnati
    Texas A&M

    I'm also thinking about Arizona State Univ but not sure at the moment.

    So if people could tell me what they think I would REALLY appreciate it. Also, if you have some schools in mind that I should look in to, that would be awesome.

    Thanks for the input!!


    Isamu.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Why do you want to be a planner? Stats are just stats. I see you have studied sociology and international relations. Why planning?

    Two things will make and break you: 1. Your passion, 2. Your ability to pay/get scolarships. You won't so well in either by spouting personal stats. This ain't baseball.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  3. #3
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    coming from a developing country, i have seen a lot of inequality because of which i want to work towards social equality and enhancing living conditions. if it's any help multiple professors at my school have read my statement of purpose and all have said that i have a very strong statement. i guess my main issue, however, would be that i would need financial aid from the schools to be able to enroll no matter where i get in.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    The right questions

    Quote Originally posted by isamu View post
    i have seen a lot of inequality because of which i want to work towards social equality and enhancing living conditions.
    If you can answer the questions
    o "do planners actually do actual work to actually improve these things on the ground" and if so, then
    o "how often do they actually get to do these things"
    then you should go into planning, and you probably are generally "competitive" without even looking at your data. If you cannot answer those questions, you may want to reexamine how to find a profession to address these concerns.

    As for this being "competitive", I suspect there are fewer applications into many planning programs right now, so "competitive" is relative. That is: is there competition right now for slots, and at which school(s)? That is the real question (or, alternatively: if there are fewer openings for students, is the environment more competitive? I suspect each school is different and a blanket reply is impossible).

    All this is a different way of framing the standard question Detroit Planner asked.

    It is all about selling yourself and your ideas to the school. If you can't do that, you won't be successful in planning. If you can, you are competitive.

    HTH
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
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    Your competitiveness has a lot to do with what school you apply to. If you apply to Harvard or something, then the bar is generally higher.

    When I opted to go to grad school - with almost no work experience and straight out of undergrad - I chose a school I felt I had a good shot at. Only applied to that one school. Got in with partial funding (graduate assistant position). I certainly didn't go to no Ivy league school, but the education was good in my opinion, and it was PAB accredited - it just was a school no one had heard of, so there was less competition.
    In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. (Douglas Adams)

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    the way i have structured my personal statement is by first pointing out the underdevelopment and inequality ive seen in parts of nepal and the research i have done on that while ive been in college. then i go on to pose questions that arose after the study such as how to bolster existing efforts by the residents of certain areas to develop their hometowns and then i state how I could explore these questions through certain classes and faculty in the school. in that sense, i feel like i have strong arguments on how i would fit the schools.

    like i mentioned, my biggest issue is financial aid, and also the fact that i have, relatively speaking, very little experience in planning. im also very unsure because i dont really know how selective these schools are in terms of admission.

    thanks for the input guys!

    isamu.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by isamu View post
    like i mentioned, my biggest issue is financial aid, and also the fact that i have, relatively speaking, very little experience in planning. im also very unsure because i dont really know how selective these schools are in terms of admission.
    On the financial aid part, don't try for the expensive schools. You may end up needing to take loans (that's what I did), and may luck out with a graduate position (or partial/full funding).

    Your experience in planning: does not matter for grad school. I'm applying to PhD programs right now, with 10 years of experience... I can tell you that being out of school for 10 years made me feel less competitive in my applications. They care about your ability to do research (which you don't do as a working planner, but do get with as an undergraduate student). The care about your letters of recommendation (try hunting those down after 11 years of being out of school). Etc. etc. Don't worry about your lack of work experience, but do play up whatever experience you have in your application.

    On selectivity, you'll never know until you apply. It only costs you some time and a pittance of an application fee to find out. As noted earlier, don't apply only to the "brand name" schools - look at all schools around you that offer some form of planning, figure out which one(s) you can afford (if you're not funded), and apply.

    Hope that helps.
    In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. (Douglas Adams)

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    I'd say you're quite competitive, because your academic preparation is solid, you have good test scores, and your research projects seem quite interesting, applied work that shows initiative. I would think you'd have your pick of several schools and should carefully evaluate which ones will allow you to build the experience and connections that best allow you to pursue your interests, as well as which offer financial aid, stipends, teaching assistantships depending on your needs. I think you have some good schools on your list, although I'm only familiar with the first 3 or 4. Of course, prepare your applications carefully and don't get over-confidant based on what I say! (Based on PSU being on your list, I am curious why you did not include U. Washington or Berkeley?)

    Also, I wouldn't necessarily rule out "expensive" schools because you may get a good financial aid package - with the caveat that grants are nicer than loans and I know its harder to get free money at the grad level than undergrad.

    I don't know how it is in planning grad schools, but if its like other fields it couldn't hurt to contact a professor whose work you are interested in just to find out more about the program.

  9. #9
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    well i guess all i can do is polish my SOP as much a i can. thank you for the encouraging post docwatson. and Tarf, good luck with the process! i had trouble getting recomendations from my advisor because she was too busy so i completely understand the issue of trying to decide who to get one from and such. more comments and suggestions from others are also more than welcome!

    isamu

  10. #10
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    oops...just realized that i put down rutgers as the "state university of new york". my bad guys!

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Plus
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    I did conduct a fully funded independent research on social capital in a slum in Mumbai, India...
    At this point in time in the United States, the English word "slum" is considered to be "politically incorrect". It would be a good idea to nix this word from your English vocabulary and use a euphemistic word or phrase in its place.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally posted by Seana View post
    At this point in time in the United States, the English word "slum" is considered to be "politically incorrect". It would be a good idea to nix this word from your English vocabulary and use a euphemistic word or phrase in its place.
    This might be true for describing US neighborhoods, but the word 'slum' is absolutely current/accepted usage for describing makeshift housing in the developing world, particularly in South Asia.

  13. #13
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    yep, UN-Habitat classifies a slum household as a group of individuals living under the same roof in an urban area who lack one or more of the following; permanent durable housing, sufficient living space, easy access to water, access to adequate sanitation and security of tenure that prevents forced evictions . so the term is used in south asia at the very least. didnt realize that the word was starting to be labelled politically incorrect though.

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