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Oh no! Another Planning school query?

architecton

Member
Messages
6
Points
0
Hi
To introduce myself, i studied to be an architect but now want to pursue Masters in Planning for all the usual reasons that lament about whats wrong with the arch profession.

My first question is about specialization. There are so many spez in planning that I am unsure about what to focus on! I have not come across any post on the forum(though i might be mistaken) just giving an overview of the spezs involved. Here i am not so much bothered about what I would study than actually what i would end up WORKING at. I am looking at GIS and transportation right now. However, few planners I talked to said that they preferred people with a civil engnn background for the job. Comments?(Sincere request: Please don tell me to do what interests me. It is not applicable. Any job that allows me to use my head to do it and pays me enuf to live with dignity interests me)

Second question is about school to attend. Presently, I have applied to Georgia Tech, Univ of Illinois-Urbana, Virginia Tech, SUNY-Buffalo, USC, FSU. I thought that with tech schools i could get a good grounding in GIS. I don know how Important that is for planners but as in architecture, nobody would hire a computer-illiterate(personal experience). I really don want to study academic jargon. Any suggestions on which school would be a good bet? Also, at gatech, there is a spez in land development. The course content is all finance related. Can anyone enlighten me about what i would end up working at if i took that up. I beleive myself to be GOOD at number crunching!

Third question is more general and might not merit an answer. As an architect what i hate about the job is that any other moron could be doing what i am, it requires very less logical and analytical thought, it pays a pittance and mostly, there is no freesom for "creative expression" (which is probably the bait that we students fall for while entering arch school). Mostly, i feel like a second class professional. I don know if I am moving "up" in the ranks as a planner. I have read some frustrating posts on the forum. But I really don know if its a better bet than arch.
I'm also wondering if a spez in gis(abt which i know very little as for now) can open up more avenues of future employment or is it no big deal.

Lots of questions from my side! Hoping for some answers or atleast cues towards them.
 

NHPlanner

Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,889
Points
38
Having a GIS specialty may be nice, but it may also pidgeonhole you as being a GIS person for the rest of your career....not sure if that's what you're looking for.

Most planners are generalists, and are well rounded in all aspects of physical and social planning & development. I'd certainly recommend that if you're really interested in it as a career to start from a general perspective, find out what interests you most, and then look to specialize if that's the way you want to go.

My 2 cents.

Good luck wherever you end up!

Edit: Added a couple of links:

http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos057.htm
www.planning.org
 

architecton

Member
Messages
6
Points
0
Thank You for the comments. The links were enlightening. I guess I will have to explore a little further about planning.
 

bocian

Cyburbian
Messages
212
Points
9
I'm currently almost done with my urban planning degree in University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 2 quick observations: If you think about GIS specialization, YJIS IS the place to go: very comprehensive, many courses incorporating GIS maps, techniques, etc... If you want to get into Transportation though : UIUC is a big NO-NO. they only offer 1 (one) course concerned with transportation planning!!! What a disgrace; however, light rail system for the area is probably in the works, so there might be job/internship/learning opportunities coming along... I want to get my graduate degree in transportation planning, and so far have only thought about University of Michigan, University of North Carolina CH, and SUNY Albany. We'll see where i end up...
 

Dharmster

Cyburbian
Messages
440
Points
13
Georgia Tech is strong in both transportation and GIS. I'd recommend you consider becoming a Rambling Wreck!
 

architecton

Member
Messages
6
Points
0
Whats a "Rambling Wreck"?!!
Ah yes, but I Am going to GAtech now and shall soon discover if thats as morbid as it sounds!!!
 

indigo

Cyburbian
Messages
73
Points
4
what i hate about the job is that any other moron could be doing what i am, it requires very less logical and analytical thought, it pays a pittance and mostly, there is no freesom for "creative expression"
if that is why you are going into planning . . . i can't say that you are necessarily going to find any more job satisfaction. all those things could be said about many positions in the public sector. perhaps it is different on the development ("dark") side, though there aren't a whole lot of planners working there (the developers tend to have engineers doing much of what they perceive to be the "planning" work on their sites).

perhaps you are thinking of "urban design" rather than "urban planning" -- there's some connection, but many planners get no training in urban design as part of their degrees, and hence they don't end up trained to do that sort of work. as for gis, you are likely to end up being a techie of one sort or another and i wouldn't follow that route if i was seeking to satisfy the desires that you stated.

my advice. check into urban design. it would be a logical add-on to your architecture studies and offer more of that "creative expression" potential than many of our planning jobs do.
 

RU_Planning

Cyburbian
Messages
28
Points
2
I think a major factor should be where you would like to work after you finish the program. Connections are very important and when you go to school for 2 years in a certain area you will gain a ton of contacts in that area.

Other factors include the money issue of course and what schools specialize in your interests more, or where you can get a more hands on experience.

I'd say visit as many as you can and talk to students, prof. etc. while you are there.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Don't be too quick to assume that the quality of education you get at a "big name" school is necessarily better than what you may ind in a lesser-known program. If you wanted to specialize in GIS, I would tell you to go to my alma mater, Northern Illinois University. The GIS program in the Geography Department has better equipment than any of the universities in the region (including U of IL, U of IA, and U of WI), and has a focus on urban applications. They have collaborated extensively with organizations such as Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission, and just about any student who wants one, can get an internship or employment during their graduate program (even many juniors and seniors).

That being said, of the ones you mentioned, Buffalo, Virginia and FSU would be my picks. With so little difference between them, you might give some weight to the one closest to where you want to work after graduation.
 
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