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Thread: I want to go to grad school, I was not the best student. Please review...

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Ringo's avatar
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    I want to go to grad school, I was not the best student. Please review...

    I know I am not the only one in this situation, please share what you can.

    I started as a college athlete, prioritize athletics over grades and attended 3 colleges.

    Once I found my major, Urban and Regional Planning, accredited program, I made mostly A's and B's, other than math classes.

    My university of graduation GPA 3.02
    Combined/ overall college GPA 2.76
    Major GPA would be somewhere around 3.5

    Have not taken GRE and would like to avoid taking.

    4 years in professional work force full-time planner for the past year 3 years as commercial construction estimator

    I am interested in Urban Design focus, also considering a MLA
    Would like a program with funding opportunities including assistantships and internships, also international opportunities

    Considering
    SUNY Buffalo
    UC-Denver
    Cal Poly SLO
    San Jose State
    Portland State


    Any others you would recommend?
    Am I setting my goals too high, did I screw up my gpa
    Would my professional exp make me more competitive?


  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Ball State's MUD program. They offer a lot of assistantship money and it's only 1 year (though not a planning program) in Indianapolis. they also have a 2 year accredited MUP program in the main Muncie campus.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Ringo's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by akshali2000 View post
    Ball State's MUD program. They offer a lot of assistantship money and it's only 1 year (though not a planning program) in Indianapolis. they also have a 2 year accredited MUP program in the main Muncie campus.
    Thank you for the quick response,
    Did you attend the MUD at Ball State?
    I am beginning to research the possibility of MUD at Ball State.

    Do you believe with my credentials I would be able to get in?

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    Cyburbian
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    Okay stop right there - do you want to do planning or landscape architecture? It's true that LA's do a lot more urban design than planners, but that's not the bread and butter of LA design - that's planting and irrigation work. Not exciting stuff. Some high profile firms do really cool UD stuff, but otherwise it's left to either architects or (more likely) no one. So unless you've got a real desire to go through hell for 3 years, have less job opportunities and make (maybe) equal money as a planner only after you get your LA license, I'd skip MLA school. Don't get me wrong, the MLA will teach you A LOT of physical planning, but the jobs just aren't there since the great recession. A MCP is cheaper, easier, faster, and will teach you about 2/3 as much as a MLA.

    That being said, if you are interested in UD then look for a planning program that has a strong relationship with the architect/land arch programs. I went to UNM and their planners were joined with the school of architecture and IMO they gained A LOT out of the deal. With that in mind, I can say that the UCD and SLO programs have very well respected architecture programs, so I'd go there. SLO is very well regarded here in CA.

    Most grad programs required the GRE - it's not that bad. Just take lots of practice exams and understand the exam methodology v. studying test material.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Ringo's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mercdude View post
    Okay stop right there - do you want to do planning or landscape architecture? It's true that LA's do a lot more urban design than planners, but that's not the bread and butter of LA design - that's planting and irrigation work. Not exciting stuff. Some high profile firms do really cool UD stuff, but otherwise it's left to either architects or (more likely) no one. So unless you've got a real desire to go through hell for 3 years, have less job opportunities and make (maybe) equal money as a planner only after you get your LA license, I'd skip MLA school. Don't get me wrong, the MLA will teach you A LOT of physical planning, but the jobs just aren't there since the great recession. A MCP is cheaper, easier, faster, and will teach you about 2/3 as much as a MLA.

    That being said, if you are interested in UD then look for a planning program that has a strong relationship with the architect/land arch programs. I went to UNM and their planners were joined with the school of architecture and IMO they gained A LOT out of the deal. With that in mind, I can say that the UCD and SLO programs have very well respected architecture programs, so I'd go there. SLO is very well regarded here in CA.

    Most grad programs required the GRE - it's not that bad. Just take lots of practice exams and understand the exam methodology v. studying test material.
    Merc,
    Your profile states you work in Northern California
    Was it difficult getting a job in that geographical location after getting a degree in New Mexico?
    I would like to have the ability work in a west coast state or east coast,

  6. #6
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Yeah....ah.....

    Skip that stuff and get a degree in Public Administration. The finance stuff will make you marketable and you can pick up much of the planning stuff in a class or two during the program. There! I'm officially a traitor to planning......a planning pirate of sorts.....hmm....feels good

    U. of Colorado is a fun place to learn and downtown Denver is a great fish tank of experience.
    “The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”
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    - See more at: http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-ph....r7W02j3S.dpuf

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    ^ Yeah, I wouldn't agree. I went to SDSU and got a MPA before going to UNM to get a MLA. Why you may ask; because, before my MLA, I couldn't even get a planning job interview and to some extent even after having the 2 master degrees (and being able to school most planners on physical design) I have a hard time breaking into planning. Sure, there's lots of MPA's that work in planning but when there's a shortage of planning jobs, employers get stringent on who they will hire. Why hire a MPA when you can get a MUD/MUP/MCP that needs less training? Sure, we know there's very little difference in the training, but employers are just getting the best bang for their buck.

    And yes, it has been challenging changing geographic areas - I wouldn't recommend if you can help it. Basically, going to a decent public school only gives you an advantage in the local job market. As soon as you move away from that area, you loose that advantage - people go: UNM? Never heard of it - is that a good school? Forget it, I like Cal Poly (UCB, etc.) better... go with the other guy. So I suggest that if you want to be in CA to work, then go to a CA school. Best areas are SF or LA. IMO, unless you're going for Berkeley or Stanford, stick with Cal Poly. It has a VERY good reputation.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Ringo's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mercdude View post
    ^ Yeah, I wouldn't agree. I went to SDSU and got a MPA before going to UNM to get a MLA. Why you may ask; because, before my MLA, I couldn't even get a planning job interview and to some extent even after having the 2 master degrees (and being able to school most planners on physical design) I have a hard time breaking into planning. Sure, there's lots of MPA's that work in planning but when there's a shortage of planning jobs, employers get stringent on who they will hire. Why hire a MPA when you can get a MUD/MUP/MCP that needs less training? Sure, we know there's very little difference in the training, but employers are just getting the best bang for their buck.

    And yes, it has been challenging changing geographic areas - I wouldn't recommend if you can help it. Basically, going to a decent public school only gives you an advantage in the local job market. As soon as you move away from that area, you loose that advantage - people go: UNM? Never heard of it - is that a good school? Forget it, I like Cal Poly (UCB, etc.) better... go with the other guy. So I suggest that if you want to be in CA to work, then go to a CA school. Best areas are SF or LA. IMO, unless you're going for Berkeley or Stanford, stick with Cal Poly. It has a VERY good reputation.
    Cal Poly SLO is one of my top choices, would it be tough to get in? As mentioned in my OP, I dont find my self acidemacly to have a strong track record, however I do have professional experience.

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    Cyburbian
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    Probably not easy, but your professional experience would help admissions. IMO you really don't want to go to a school that's easy to get in - that means it's not that great, or doesn't have that many advantages. I guess what I'm saying is, apply for good schools - if you don't get in, then keep plodding away as a professional. Maybe instead get a certificate. Grad school doesn't help all that much, especially if you are already in the industry.

  10. #10
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    I think you need to think about what you want to do with that degree. I wouldn't hire an MPA grad for my planner position. S/He would certainly get looked at for our deputy director or other more upwardly mobile positions. City Manager aspirations are more realistic for MPA then planning.

    What are you hoping to get out of a Masters? I'm not sure it makes people more marketable. I have talked to many of my hiring planning friends who have entry level positions that aren't getting applications. Experience is way more important than degree in my hiring opinion. I would rather see someone move locations to get different experience then see them go back to school and get another degree. Again this for public sector planning. If you want private sector or administration, there might be a different set of expectations.

    Just my two cents. Good luck.
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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by akshali2000 View post
    Ball State's MUD program. They offer a lot of assistantship money and it's only 1 year (though not a planning program) in Indianapolis. they also have a 2 year accredited MUP program in the main Muncie campus.
    I got an assistantship but ultimately decided not to attend (my undergrad was also in a public, midwestern school so I wanted to go east coast). However, I know people that did go to Ball State's MUD program and they said it was a great value for their money. Other good MUD programs to look into include Carnegie Mellon and University of Michigan (if MUD is what you want - decide what you want - an MUP, MUD, MLA, or MPA).

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by akshali2000 View post
    I got an assistantship but ultimately decided not to attend (my undergrad was also in a public, midwestern school so I wanted to go east coast). However, I know people that did go to Ball State's MUD program and they said it was a great value for their money. Other good MUD programs to look into include Carnegie Mellon and University of Michigan (if MUD is what you want - decide what you want - an MUP, MUD, MLA, or MPA).
    One of those is not like the other. A MLA is an architecture degree, but you can throw the MUP/MUD/MCP/MRP/MPA into the same Public Affairs/Planning mix. And I agree with above: MPA's don't make a person very competitive for planning positions. They should, but they don't. Maybe when the economy shifts to a labor's market, the MPA could get a second look. And yet, the MPA's always get mentioned for executive/CM positions. It's pretty rare that happens from graduate school>employed>executive. What I've seen is that people are on the executive/CM track and then get a MPA to round-out their credentials.

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    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Well.....

    Quote Originally posted by mercdude View post
    One of those is not like the other. A MLA is an architecture degree, but you can throw the MUP/MUD/MCP/MRP/MPA into the same Public Affairs/Planning mix. And I agree with above: MPA's don't make a person very competitive for planning positions. They should, but they don't. Maybe when the economy shifts to a labor's market, the MPA could get a second look. And yet, the MPA's always get mentioned for executive/CM positions. It's pretty rare that happens from graduate school>employed>executive. What I've seen is that people are on the executive/CM track and then get a MPA to round-out their credentials.
    Agree with getting a degree in California if you want to work here....rant suppressed.....

    So get both degrees MCP/MPA.
    “The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    - See more at: http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-ph....r7W02j3S.dpuf

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    Cyburbian
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    At SDSU where I got my MPA, the MCP and MPA were in the same 'college' and were almost the same exact degree; except that MCP guys took GIS classes and MPA guys took organizational/policy classes. Of course you could get an emphasis either way and/or take electives either way. I went MPA and studied planning, I had a friend that went MCP and studied policy. He ended up doing transportation planning, I ended up flopping around between policy/admin jobs and then env. planning. Personally, I'd go MCP over MPA (because I'm interested in planning, not admin).

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    Cyburbian Ringo's avatar
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    Thank you for all the feedback.
    Wi will be going for either a Masters of Urban Design or a MCP/MUP with an emphasis in UD.

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    Cyburbian
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    Keep in mind that (in general) urban design is done by licensed professionals - either architects or landscape architects, depending on the circumstance. The MUD is generally utilized as a 'specialization' degree for design-background students (Arch/LA). You wouldn't be that well served with a MUD v. a MCP/MRP.

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    Cyburbian Ringo's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mercdude View post
    Keep in mind that (in general) urban design is done by licensed professionals - either architects or landscape architects, depending on the circumstance. The MUD is generally utilized as a 'specialization' degree for design background students (Arch/LA). You wouldn't be that well served with a MUD v. a MCP/MRP.
    Yes, that is understood. I would like to get a graduate degree to further my knowledge in the field, for personal growth, and the benefits it may have on my career. I enjoy urban planning and would like to continue studying it, urban design is one of my choice topics to study. Even If I do not become an Urban Designer, though there may be a small chance I assume, I still would like to study urban planning and get an MUP and specialize in urban design for the joy of the studdies and hope to learn some great skills and knowledge.

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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Ringo View post
    Yes, that is understood. I would like to get a graduate degree to further my knowledge in the field, for personal growth, and the benefits it may have on my career. I enjoy urban planning and would like to continue studying it, urban design is one of my choice topics to study. Even If I do not become an Urban Designer, though there may be a small chance I assume, I still would like to study urban planning and get an MUP and specialize in urban design for the joy of the studdies and hope to learn some great skills and knowledge.
    Right, good strategy. Just saying, don't get a MUD. Go for the MUP and then specialize or get a certificate in UD.

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    Cyburbian The Terminator's avatar
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    Ditto those saying dont go for an MUD or MLA. Find a deisgn focused MUP at a good State School and focus on using your work experience as a caveat in your admissions letter.

    Also might be a good idea to take some courses as a non-matriculated student beforehand and ace them to show your serious!

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