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Thread: Chances for grad school 2012

  1. #1
    Member
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    Chances for grad school 2012

    Hi All,

    I'm hoping to get into a graduate program for transportation planner, and better yet, get a dual degree in planning and engineering. My top choices are MIT, Berkeley, UNC and Georgia Tech. Could anyone give me advice on other schools to consider, and my chances of getting in? I know it all boils down to how well you market yourself, but there isn't enough information on whether I stand the chance to go through the time/money applying.

    About me:
    I am a 2010 grad of a top-tier private undergraduate institution, majors in History and Political Science. GPA: 3.44, GRE: 740Q, 660V, 3.0W
    I worked for about 10 months at an affordable housing nonprofit, and I'm currently working at a Community Foundation in community investments and grant-making. I also write for an online newspaper in urban transportation issues. I have experience working in community and economic development abroad while in college and have helped fundraise projects abroad since I've graduated.

    I have a strong passion for new urbanism and smart growth policies, and want to explore the design route of mass transit systems, bicycle planning and neighborhood development centered around TOD.

    Any advice on applying to school would be VERY helpful, as I am pretty nervous as to where I stand a chance and should bother applying.

    Thanks so much!

  2. #2
    Member
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    texas
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    I would consider Rutgers. They have the National Transit Institute (NTI) which could provide the expertise on mass transit you are looking for. Also, Texas A&M houses the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) and they have an open planning contract with TxDOT where they conduct various projects around the state of TX in mass transit. From my understanding, A&M has a strong Engineering program where you could mix and match courses from your degree program for Urban Planning.

    Additionally, I would look into the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) reports that focus on your interests in mass transit and TOD design and try the schools where many of the professors are in..

    Just my two cents

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    May 2012
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    Boston
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    Based on your "stats1" you'll have a very good chance at getting in to any of the schools you apply to. Many others will have similar stats to yours when applying; the key is to ensure that your personal statement is extremely strong: clearly articulating why you want to get a masters and how your previous experience has set you on this trajectory.

  4. #4
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    Thanks so much for the replies! I really appreciate it. I'm also wondering about a few other questions: given my liberal arts background, do I stand a chance getting in to Engineering programs? I don't have some of the prerquisites listed, but can petition to take these classes while in the program - do people do that?

    Also, I'm interested in the planning AND design route of transportation. Does having a PE/AICP give me an edge in the job market? For schools without a transportation concentration, such as Cornell, would it be wise to apply there for Urban Design or Landscape Architecture instead, or drop those schools altogether?

    Thanks so much!

  5. #5
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    I have worked in transportation planning for 20 years now. My college background is planning related but not really an actual planning degree. I started out in architecture, then moved into geography, and got a dual degree with urban studies. Grad school was in Geography with a specialization in land use, but I dropped out just short of getting the degree as I was bored to tears and figured that 200 hours of college was enough.

    In my opinion, TTI is overrated. Most of the stuff that comes out of there consistently ranks my City as being very congested, yet it is relatively free of congestion.

    The schools you mentioned are excellent. I can personally vouch for two additional, Michigan Tech and Michigan State. I have worked with very good thinkers from both of those schools. Michigan Tech however will be a test as it is in a snowbelt on Lake Superior!
    .
    Since I am a planner, I can't say much about when to get your PE. I know my boss has a PE, but many of the engineers in my department do not. However, in order to qualify for AICP you typically need a few years of professional experience. Even if you do qualify to get it right out of the gate, it ain't cheap for what it gives you.

    Unless you're stinking rich, you should factor in the reality that college costs quite a bit and go for the least costly of the choices. In the end as long your degree does not come out of a paper mill you have something you can be proud of. I grew up in the ghetto and not many of my high school classmates were able to attend the best of schools. Some who did had to leave college early because they ran out of money.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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