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Is planning the right career??


I'm considering planning as a career possibility and I've got a few questions. Feel free to learn a bit about me in my introduction if you'd like.

Is there a good book to pick up that would have some of the following info: The basics of planning?? Common terms/phrases?? Something about the "daily grind" of planning or workplace expectations?? With no undergrad exp. in the field, I'd like to get familiar with basic terms and theories, as well as getting an idea of the workplace and lifestyle. I don't want to just jump into it blind. I don't mind difficult/boring reading, so long as it has something that introduces the terms used first. Also, if it seems uninteresting, I've probably saved myself a couple years of school for the cost of a book.

What grad schools in MI are good?? It seems to be a large enough community here that at least some of you have to be familiar with the schools. I've looked at the "best schools" thread, and that seems to be sort of a mishmash. I'd rather pay in-state tuition, though, so my options lie mostly in-state. Is Taubman's program well-respected?? How about EMU's?? What is usually required to get in: GPA?? GRE?? Experience?? Granted, I realize the burden of success lay more on my shoulders than any school's, but I'd like to have help when/where I can.

Thanks for any answers, and I look forward to contributing where I can. I don't expect to put in much though, as I have only the layman's viewpoint on these things.


I'm currently a planning student and found lots of career related things online when I was trying to make up my mind to study planning.

You should look at this:

I don't know anything specific about MI schools, but I'm sure they're all fine. Just look at the range of courses offerend. And yes, if you can pay in-state tuition that's what you want.


Chairman of the bored
Staff member
I would like to suggest that in addition to doing some reading about the professional aspects of the field, you may also want to conduct an inventory of your own psychological makeup. I have known a number of folks who were very qualified and knowlegable, but were ultimately unhappy in this profession, the common theme I have heard repeated time and again from them was that they did not realize how stressful the job would be. As a planner you will need thick skin. Very often the job requires one to participate or act in an adversarial role/capacity. If you think you have what it takes to do well as an attorney, chances are you will do well in the field. IMHO a planner is an advocate for a particular vision or point of view - one might be 'fighting' for a developer, an organization or a municipality, but in all cases the one who 'wins' is the one who is best able to keep their cool, not take things personally, and persuade others to the position one is advocating.

MSU, UoM, and EMU all have reputable programs. Good luck in your search.


Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Staff member
yes UoM has a good program, that's were I got my MUP.

it's more academic and less about the details of what a first time planner has to do, especially in municipal planning.

There are great and highly regarded profs. in the program and you get in-state tuition which was a major assest for me as I was a lifetime Michigan resident at the time.

Read (of course) Death and Life of Great American Cities: a great primer for the uninitiated.

Richmond Jake

You can't fight in here. This is the War Room!
I've said this before....run from this profession, run from it as if it carries the plague. Bitter? Yes, call me Bobby Bitter. :5


You mentioned wanting to read some good books that would get you familiar with some planning terms and concepts...Go to www.Amazon.com and browse city planning, you will find suggested reading lists put up by all sorts of people. You will see the same books come up over and over. Authors like Jacobs, Whyte, Garreau, Mumford, Kunstler, Olmstead.....will keep popping up-read those.

I also suggest reading articles posted online. There are loads of websites offering newsletters filled with current planning issues from all over the country. www.Planetizen.com offers a great one. www.SmartGrowthAmerica.org has also put together a useful newsletter. You can even listen online to discussions about planning at www.SmartCityRadio.org.

I suggest that when you are doing your investigating that you keep a paper and pencil nearby to jot down terms or names you are unfamiliar with or concepts you would like to research more fully. City planning is a tangled web and organization is vital.

Good Luck!