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AICP application essay criteria

8hesaid

Cyburbian
Messages
68
Points
4
I'm starting to think about my AICP essays to apply for taking the November 2016 exam. My one job where I was a municipal planning consultant in New Jersey comprises 65% of my experience. I rarely dealt directly with planning boards or elected officials (I didn't have a PP); that was done by my superiors who were the appointed planners for towns. Anytime I prepared site plan reviews, comp plan elements, etc., it went through my bosses and then to town officials.

For AICP essay criteria #3, "Influence Public Decision Making in the Public Interest", will AICP accept experiences where I didn't directly work with elected officials or a planning board as long as I clearly explain how it was my work they were considering and, for example, comments that I made in the site plan review actually became conditions of planning board approval?

Also, for anyone who recently applied to take the exam, has AICP been really strict on what they will accept for experiences for all criteria? My two other jobs, including my current one, are not as cut-and-dry planning.
 

DVD

Cyburbian
Messages
13,384
Points
34
Sounds like you have it covered, but I'm not the judge. I did hear the APA is trying to be more strict on what is/isn't experience. Just do your best to explain why the jobs should be considered and good luck.
 

Suburb Repairman

moderator in moderation
Moderator
Messages
7,315
Points
30
I've been one of the AICP application essay peer reviewers. Feel free to send your actual response to me via PM. How you frame your response will make a difference.
 

MRogersHK

Member
Messages
4
Points
0
How to PM you? I am new to cyburbia cant see how. I wanted to ask how I can get in contact with a AICP Peer Reviewer, I am currently putting together my criterion essays and need a fresh set of eyes to go over mine to see if I am heading down the right track. thanks
 

Suburb Repairman

moderator in moderation
Moderator
Messages
7,315
Points
30
How to PM you? I am new to cyburbia cant see how. I wanted to ask how I can get in contact with a AICP Peer Reviewer, I am currently putting together my criterion essays and need a fresh set of eyes to go over mine to see if I am heading down the right track. thanks
So peer reviewers contact information is not posted or readily available--that's kind of intentional since we are volunteers that don't want to get inundated.

There's a restriction on new posters on Cyburbia that prevents you from initiating a PM until you have some number of posts in order to prevent spam. I just sent you a PM, as I think you are able to respond. If you can't, post again here and I can get into the moderator tools information to pull your email address and handle it that way.

My biggest comment: read the AICP candidate manual, particularly the sections about the three criterion. The way the descriptions in the manual are structured essentially creates an answer outline that you should follow. In fact, it tends to make it much easier for us to read and verify. And avoid flowery language--it tends to distract from the purpose of the answer and bury the information we are looking to cull out.
 

MRogersHK

Member
Messages
4
Points
0
So peer reviewers contact information is not posted or readily available--that's kind of intentional since we are volunteers that don't want to get inundated.

There's a restriction on new posters on Cyburbia that prevents you from initiating a PM until you have some number of posts in order to prevent spam. I just sent you a PM, as I think you are able to respond. If you can't, post again here and I can get into the moderator tools information to pull your email address and handle it that way.

My biggest comment: read the AICP candidate manual, particularly the sections about the three criterion. The way the descriptions in the manual are structured essentially creates an answer outline that you should follow. In fact, it tends to make it much easier for us to read and verify. And avoid flowery language--it tends to distract from the purpose of the answer and bury the information we are looking to cull out.
Thanks for replying, that makes it clear. I'll try to follow the outline the best I can.
 

fauperez8

Member
Messages
2
Points
0
Hello All,

I'm new to the forum and my friend told me that is an advantage to read the older responses. I'm really struggling with the criterions on the AICP Application. I have a a few responses I've prepared. Is anyone willing to review and tell me if I'm headed in the right direction? I'm sure I'm overthinking this, but really would like to take the exam in November 2019.

Thank you so much!
 

Suburb Repairman

moderator in moderation
Moderator
Messages
7,315
Points
30
I won't have time to review any more prior to the application deadline, but I'll provide some universal comments:

Criterion 1:

Conduct some thoughtful editing of those descriptions so that the focus is on the planning process you used and your role(s) in that planning process. By the way, this is the criterion that most commonly trips people up—not because they didn’t use an appropriate planning process, but because they did not describe it well. While it can feel almost like you are back in school, it is helpful to shorten your sentences and tell the reader what you are going to tell them. For this criterion, it is best to essentially tell the story in linear fashion using steps in the planning process as your organizational framework. Be explicit about your role in each step. Use "I" rather than "We." I know that feels unnatural for many planners, but the AICP is about you, not your team or department. If there was a step of the planning process that you weren't in the middle of, talk about how you used the results of that step in your subsequent work in the process. Make it obvious and impossible to reject. Also, don't try to respond to all three criteria in this one response--that's a common mistake, as planners naturally want to talk about their comprehensive point of view within the planning process and the results of the planning process (whether something got adopted/approved, etc.).

Criterion 2:

Some of my comments for Criterion 1 apply here as well, as far as focusing on yourself rather than your team/department. Avoid "we." A big mistake we see is someone saying "I looked at ____, __, _, and ___ as part of my comprehensive review" and then they don't really discuss it. Let's say you considered environmental issues... what were they? How did you address them in the project? Economic impacts? Social or equity issues? Intergovernmental issues? Stakeholder concerns? Don't just say that there were some concerns/issues--link them to how your planner brain processed them and used them to inform the project.

Criterion 3:

I've always had trouble understanding why folks mess this criterion up. Its like they fail to read to "influence public decision making" and miss "in the public interest." Obviously you need to clearly identify the decision-makers you are working with, but you need to describe HOW you influenced them to make a decision. What did you do to persuade them? How did you know what was in the public interest? What were the factors? Don't just talk about how you "worked with the public and did this neat-o thing;" pull in what you gained from that public process and what knowledge/resources you used to take that public interest and prompt an appropriate decision from the folks in power. While I tend to discourage it, your example does not necessarily need to go your way. I would, however, encourage you to use an example in which the decision made was consistent with the guidance/recommendations you provided. Its just easier.
 

glutton

Cyburbian
Messages
407
Points
11
If we got stuck on Essay 1 in previous rounds, and are reapplying this month, do we still need to rewrite the other essays as well or will the only thing they will be looking at is the parts that didn't qualify (in my case, Essay 1)? I messed up on Essay one in that I didn't clearly show the planning steps in sequential order (ex: gathering data, evaluating alternatives, public engagement, draft, review, council adoption, etc.). I'm just worried that if I get a different reviewer this time they might have different opinions of my second and third essays and then I'll have to reapply a third time, which I really do not want to do.
 
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