I've been rejected to every planning school I've applied to (granted, it's not many - I only tried out for three in Canada) and I can probably figure out that my 3.00 GPA is the limiting barrier to entry, which means I'm unlikely to get into planning school unless I take another year enrolling in make-up courses to boost my GPA. The bright side is I was accepted into a "backup" program to pursue a MSc in environmental management for which my employer is willing to fund over half of the tuition cost. Since graduating with a BSc. in environmental science, I've been working for the past four years for the government on environmental policy work, where I am reasonably well compensated for ($60k/yr) and enjoy good benefits. From an economic standpoint it makes perfect sense to further improve my credentials in this sector to climb the ladder... the problem is I have somehow convinced myself that my true career passion is in the field of environmental planning and sustainable urban development and am willing to make some financial sacrifices to reach this end goal.
My eventual objective is to work for the city and land myself some sort of a "environmental planner" role. My question is what is the best way that you would perceive for me to achieve this in my current stage now? Should I just do my MSc. in environmental or resource management and hope to work my way into a civic job as an environmental planner? Do any employed planners get to where they are without formal planning education? Or should I try again next year and expand the list of schools I am willing to go to, with still no guarantee of getting in with my weak GPA? Is a graduate education in planning absolutely critical to this profession, and is it worth sacrificing tens of thousands of dollars for if I can get graduate education in another somewhat relevant field?
I've lurked on this forum for years now, ever since graduation and have seen plenty of posts that suggest that the field of planning is in a state of flux and instability, so I would not be surprised if the majority of respondents would try to dissuade me from the profession. But I've also read plenty of anecdotal evidence of planners who come from more lucrative backgrounds that have made the sacrifices to go into planning and am happy with their choices.. so try to picture yourself in my situation - a candidate with stable and decently well paying options in his own field but who is dissatisfied with the work and truly wants to get into this field.