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Thread: Interested in graduate school

  1. #1
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    Interested in graduate school

    I'm interested in pursuing graduate work in urban planning, but am not sure which programs would be suitable for me. For the last two years, I've worked as a teacher in a low income neighborhood with the aim of providing children with academic resources that could help improve their lives. However, I realized halfway through my second year that, although education is important, I believe more strongly in improving the place of poverty itself. Many of my students suffered from asthma attacks at night and were technically homeless, so I'd like to study how to improve the quality and stability of low income neighborhoods. I'm hoping to get into a program in New York. Does anyone have information that could help me pinpoint programs I might be interested in? Also, do these programs accept students without planning experience?

    Any information and advice would be much appreciated! Thank you!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by marsu View post
    I'm interested in pursuing graduate work in urban planning, ... For the last two years, I've worked as a teacher in a low income neighborhood with the aim of providing children with academic resources that could help improve their lives. However, I realized halfway through my second year that, although education is important, I believe more strongly in improving the place of poverty itself. Many of my students suffered from asthma attacks at night and were technically homeless, so I'd like to study how to improve the quality and stability of low income neighborhoods. ...do these programs accept students without planning experience? Any information and advice would be much appreciated! Thank you!
    I'm sure many grad programs would love to have you. I also agree that improving the urban ecology and form of a place - especially in low-income places - may help improve environmental and public health outcomes.

    And I'm not sure how much actual influence - on the ground - you'd actually have as an actual practicing planner to ameliorate cardiopulmonary and other health injustices due to inequality; planning school brochures IMHO overstate the influence of formal planning by individuals, and the scale of the solution set for such problems means you'd have to be a remarkable person indeed to influence and marshal and move so many resources for remedy. You'd have to actually get hired, then work in a place that chooses to spend money on the poor. Hard enough today, harder still tomorrow as more resources are diverted upward to the few as resource competition heats up as materials and resources get scarcer.

    It is true some places allow planners to be empowered to make changes (almost always at smaller scales), so the chances are not zero that you could actually do something, but neither are they close to even IME. BTW, my family, friends and colleagues wonder why I'm not teaching more often, as I'd have more influence (additional debt notwithstanding)...
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    Thanks for your reply! True, teachers are very influential, but I'd really like to get involved in improving neighborhoods. I don't necessarily want to do that by addressing health issues as I feel I need to get a better understanding of the different ways a planner can impact a neighborhood. Any insight on that would be much appreciated. I'm also still wondering if graduate schools would consider a teacher with no planning experiences a desirable candidate.

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by marsu View post
    I feel I need to get a better understanding of the different ways a planner can impact a neighborhood. Any insight on that would be much appreciated.
    Some here will say none. Some will say a little bit. I'll say if you are lucky you will get in one of the few places that will allow you to make a difference. Until then, you'll push paper around and hope for a decent project where you can use your creativity or hope you are assigned a project that isn't a McSuburb or a McDonald's. Else you'll work for a firm and maybe have a little shot at doing something meaningful while you make money for your boss. There are thousands of threads on this site discussing this very thing. Maybe tens of thousands. A few of them decribe how a planner actually impact[ed] a neighborhood. Your situation is just like these tens of thousands of threads.

    Quote Originally posted by marsu View post
    I'm also still wondering if graduate schools would consider a teacher with no planning experiences a desirable candidate.
    There are a million threads on this site discussing grad school admissions and no prior planning experience. Maybe 2 million. I had none and was admitted. Your situation is just like these millions of threads.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

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