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Thread: Urban planning grad school panic mode!

  1. #1
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    Urban planning grad school panic mode!

    I'm an undergrad at Cal graduating in December 2013, double majoring in urban studies and molecular biology, but there's a huge divide in the separate major GPA's, urban studies being the higher one (3.5). I'm aware of other factors like letters of rec, GRE's, extra-curriculars... but how much would having a terrible biology GPA (~2.9) affect my competitiveness in urban planning graduate programs for example? Granted I have about 2 semesters to keep trying, I can't help but feel that my work in bio has pretty much screwed me over for great planning programs despite an excellent urban studies record. (e.g. Cal, MIT, Harvard, UCLA, etc.) I don't plan on applying to grad school at least until Fall 2013. I'm doing pretty intensive research on whether the schools will best fit my interests (i.e. looking at student/faculty profiles, research and studio projects, as well as courses offered and the curriculum).

    I'm fairly confident that I will be able to bring my urban studies GPA up close to a 3.6 by the time I graduate, and around a 3.0 for biology. I'm currently writing a thesis, and looking for planning-related internships. I've made a plan to begin asking for my LOR's and when to take the GREs. I'm hoping to get into Harvard's Career Discovery Program as well.

    Any feedback on this would be helpful. Thanks everyone!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    I don't think you need to panic. I think the best thing to do is speak to admissions/professors at the schools you're interested in. But know that for recent graduates GPA tends to matter more for admissions than for those who have been out for several years gaining work experience. You might want to consider that (doesn't have to be a planning job, which will be extremely difficult to get straight out of undergrad; but I'd suggest finding something that is in the same ballpark as planning).

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    I'm just gonna be blunt and say your 2.9 GPA is far from terrible, especially considering you have a double major. You may have unintentionally insulted many people. I know my undergrad GPA was more "terrible" than yours yet here I am, employed, married, decent savings account, and no loans except mortgage. I'm thinking that terrible GPA didn't really matter. At. All.

    As far as grad school. Just leave the biology GPA off if it worries you. It's not illegal.

  4. #4
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    I apologize if I unintentionally insulted anyone, but I can't help it if I don't know where I stand and what I need to do to stand in the eyes of the programs that I want to get into. However, thank you for the morale boost.

  5. #5
    They don't just look at your grades, but at the difficulty of the classes and the prestige of the school you're applying from. Identify the places you want to go and apply to them and keep working. There's nothing else you can do except worry.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    I agree that a 2.9 is far from terrible; however, if the OP is intent on attending an extremely competitive school (leaving aside the common discussion about whether that is worth it), he/she should know that many of the other applicants will have better GPAs. Yes, that is only part of the package, but it's still a part and more so for someone coming straight from undergrad.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Ironically, I think the only school you definitely won't be able to get into is Cal. That's a competitive program.

    The rest should be OK, even maybe MIT. In my planning grad school, a number of students had GPAs under 3.0, and many had 3.0 - 3.3 GPAs with mediocre humanities majors. It was a Top 5 school too.

    Admission to planning school I don't think is all that competitive. You'll find out why when you graduate.

    Also, I can't speak of this probably as well as others can, but I'm not sure how much the school name means if anything. Experience means a lot more, and getting your first job is so difficult, it doesn't really make a difference I don't think.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by jobaba View post
    Ironically, I think the only school you definitely won't be able to get into is Cal. That's a competitive program.
    Won't hurt to have one of your recs be someone like Ananya Roy



    Go bears

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