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Thread: Advice on choosing schools

  1. #1
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    Advice on choosing schools

    I'm trying to figure out what schools I should be visiting to potentially apply to for fall 2019 and thought I might be able to get some input here.

    GPA: 3.10 (4.0 so far for my second bachelors). I have a Bachelors in Planning from a school in Denmark (did pretty poorly there GPA-wise) and am almost done with a second bachelors in Ethnic Studies from a state school here in MN.

    Have done two planning related Americorps stints, have an internship lined up at a transit agency for this year and have done extensive past community organizing in transit.

    Studying for GREs (not a great test taker though and not great at math).

    I'm primarily interested in transportation (bike/ped and transit), and equity issues in planning. Also somewhat interested in urban revitalization projects, development, etc.

    I'm currently living in Minneapolis and kinda done with the sub-arctic, although I do like how affordable, progressive and bike-friendly the city is.

    So far I'm considering:

    Minnesota (know they're a good school but I haven't been super impressed visiting there so far. Wouldn't have to move though and the job market is good in MN).
    UW-Milwaukee (got a great vibe from the school and like Milwaukee a lot)
    UW-Madison
    UI-Chicago

    Portland State (worried about job market/cost of living in the NW but it's an amazing city)
    Oregon

    UC Denver

    U of Arizona
    New Mexico (like the desert SW and they both look like decent cities and schools that have courses that I'd be into)

    New Orleans

    Temple

    Any red flags for any of those schools? Any other schools that I should definitely consider? Thanks for the input.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    I take the whole point of a college to landing a job. I'm voting Minn. because you said the market was good and no moving. Probably cheaper than some of those other schools too. You might want to consider a different masters like public admin or public policy.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    If you’re interested in bike-ped planning, Portland State is probably the best school for that in terms of faculty, curriculum, and networking/job opportunities.

    But first consider where you want to end up geographically post graduation.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    I went to Minnesota and while it wasn't the most organized program in the world, you had access to all the course offerings of one of the largest universities in the world, plus a great metro area to do lots of case work in. Also they were very generous with financial aid. But if you are done with the cold, that will be a problem.

    UW-Milwaukee (got a great vibe from the school and like Milwaukee a lot) - have a fairly good impression but doesn't solve the cold problem. Plus I think it's kind of a small program
    UW-Madison - great school, not as good a city to do case work in, still cold
    UI-Chicago - don't have much of an impression

    Portland State (worried about job market/cost of living in the NW but it's an amazing city) - great program, good city, maybe a little too bike-ped focused for the real world?
    Oregon - seems like a fun school but it's a small metro area

    UC Denver - don't know much about it

    U of Arizona - ditto
    New Mexico (like the desert SW and they both look like decent cities and schools that have courses that I'd be into) - ditto, though I know some folks that went there. ABQ is not a great planning city to do work in, though.

    New Orleans - ditto

    Temple - ditto
    Don't read the comments section. You want to, but don't do it.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Plus
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    I am partial towards UC Denver only because that is where I went - it was 30 yrs ago when I got accepted

    Cyburbian broken record advise -

    Don't into debt over a name,
    Which school has a better internship/workstudy placement ?
    Have you considered the relocation costs ?
    PROOF of our broken record advise, since 2010 http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showt...t=Don%27t+debt

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the advice everyone.

    I guess I have the issue of already living in a city with a pretty good school and a good job market so I feel like I should stay here even though I don't really like the climate (or most Minnesotans) and got a bad feeling for the school when I went to visit. And I know it sounds crazy, but having lived in all three, Minneapolis somehow manages to feel significantly colder than Milwaukee or Chicago. Maybe booze is just cheaper down there so you don't notice as much? :)

    Does anyone have an opinion on other areas that have decent job markets for planners and might be worth considering? I'm definitely going at this with the idea that I need to go to school someplace where I can get a job later.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    In a broad sense I would say the southern US, coast to coast. Phoenix is doing a lot, so is Atlanta. I've seen a lot of jobs in the Denver market recently, but who can afford to live there. Same with California.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    As a long time New Englander, I think its fair to say the market here is a little rough, at least in the public sector. Not all cities have strong planning staffs, and many do not pay well. There are certainly great jobs here but not enough for all the planners that graduate MIT, Harvard, Tufts, BU, UMass, USM, etc. each year.
    Don't read the comments section. You want to, but don't do it.

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