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Going Back to School, Online Options?

MV1138

Cyburbian
Messages
31
Points
2
I've been interested in planning for a while, but sort of moved on from it as an option over the last couple of years. I've recently swung back around to it but I've got kind of a unique set of circumstances that sort of hurts my dream of planning.

Short story: I'm 33, have a Master's in History and I live in a geographic area with very little opportunity of any kind. I work full time at a job where I work basically 8-7 every weekday. Which really hurts my ability to volunteer anywhere. I also have kids so quitting/relocating/etc isn't really an option. Now, I also don't live near any universities that offer degrees or certificates in planning. So in my mind, since moving to a new city with no great skillset, savings and with kids and a wife with an okay job isn't really an option, I need online.

Has anyone ever succeeded at finding a planning job after taking online courses only? Is this a dream I'd just have to give up on? Since I already have student loan debt I don't want to take more on if it's not going to go anywhere. It doesn't do me any good to get a degree and be dead in the water in the job hunt. Most of the people on here seem to be trying for the big name universities, which makes sense. But if I'm not trying to be Robert Moses, and just want a decent career in a mid-size town or city, does it truly matter where I go?

Anyway, I appreciate any of input.
 

gtpeach

Cyburbian
Messages
1,961
Points
15
It sounds like if you want a planning job, you'd have to relocate regardless. There are accredited on-line schools - Arizona State has a program where you receive an identical degree as if you attended residentially. My secretary is doing that now.

I'd say as long as you're willing to move to where the job is, there will be an opportunity for you. We're definitely starting to see the "silver tsunami" wave starting to take over, so there are a lot more opportunities than there have been recently in my experience. Most likely, you'd start in a smaller, more rural area, but if you're willing to do that for a few years to get some experience, you shouldn't have any trouble moving into a town or city eventually. It's really just a matter of how flexible you're willing to be on the location.
 

ursus

Cyburbian, raised by Cyburbians
Messages
4,984
Points
21
I don't know where you live, but my degree was not in planning. I have a BS in geography, with a minor in Anthropology and an emphasis in planning. Of course, I was able to intern for not a lot of money and get some practical experience to help me land that all-important first gig. That would be admittedly tough in the circumstance you've described. Maybe try to find an opportunity tangentially like code enforcement, and use that to further your experience, and combine that with your existing degrees to get a foot in the door? Just spit-balling....
 

MV1138

Cyburbian
Messages
31
Points
2
Thanks for the suggestions, folks.

EDIT: As for relocating, I'm not against relocating for a job, I just can't justify relocating for classes or unpaid internships.
 

zman

Cyburbian
Messages
9,193
Points
30
I did an Online MPA through the University of Colorado and have had nothing but success in landing new jobs and progressing in my career. As a hiring director, I would look at someone who took an online masters, while working full time, as someone who works hard and is dedicated.
 

MD Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
1,881
Points
24
I went the online route to get a MPA. With my years and education in planning already I actually have a pick of a couple of new jobs. For me anyway online was no joke. It was a ton of reading and writing and discussion board stuff. I really liked the discussion stuff because I had 20+ years of real life experience to bring to it and the (much) younger students were always amazed I could provide an example of just about every issue we encountered.
 

MV1138

Cyburbian
Messages
31
Points
2
Seems like it wouldn't hurt if I were already working in the field. I did just see an internship (one) open up in a neighboring city. So I guess they do pop up maybe once a year in my area. If I can figure out how to pay for it I might just bite the bullet and go for it.
 
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