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What school? Applying to schools: USC, UCLA, UI Urbana-Champaign, Berkeley, UPenn

Hello, applying to grad programs this year. I'm 25 years old. I am mostly interested in community/economic development. I am also a convicted felon and have spent a good amount of time in jail before I decided to make some changes-- thinking about writing a small portion of my personal statement on how this factor has also inspired me to pursue my Master's in Urban Planning without being maudlin. (Not sure if this is a good idea).

Applying to schools: USC, UCLA, UI Urbana-Champaign, Berkeley, UPenn (any other school recommendations?)
----Hoping to get into USC and UCLA, Berkeley and UIUC are dream schools.

Junior/Senior GPA: 3.63
Extracurriculars: Worked for a government non-profit as a research assistant for 1.5 years, also worked for a urban planning consulting firm for 8 months. Teaching in Russia for the next year.
GRE: 150Q/156V [worried about these scores, should I retake?]

Please give me some advice.



Your experience will help carry you along - improving your GRE score will definitely help your GPA (while definitely good, they may parse it to determine what is skewing it one way or another).

I would re-shift your focus on geographic areas, not strength of programs. While the strength should be considered - try to nail down where you see yourself working/living (a large city? a city with a lot of room for improvement? a relatively inexpensive city?). This will help refine regions/areas, where you can then narrow down to specific programs. Here is a list of accredited programs: http://www.planningaccreditationboard.org/index.php?id=30

For instance, I see that you are a local - if you would like to stay in the area, don't rule out Cal Poly Pomona or UCI (I'm unsure of their Com/Econ.Dev strength), but ensure you have safety schools.

On your "what are my chances" note - I applied and was accepted to UCLA and USC (attended the former - GO BRUINS) with a 3.7, about a yr of planning experience, and similar GRE scores.

Before you apply, take some independent courses, attend mixers, presentations, etc. - all of these can only help you when you're making your case on your Statement of Purpose(s).

Good luck!

Sorry, I meant that improving your GRE will help ease the focus on your GPA.


Everything like your GPA, experience, GRE look fine...but I'm not sure about the felon/jail part. This is a tricky situation and you may wish to get some professional educational consultation on how to handle this situation before you apply (whether or not to mention it, etc.)