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Study and practice planning in the same State?

Willbur

Member
Messages
1
Points
0
I'm developing a keen interest in planning and am considering going to school for a masters degree. I was told by a planner I talked with that I should go to school in the same state I plan to practice in, since the legal environment is so unique for each state. That makes some sense to me but I'm curious to get more feedback on this from a wider group. How transferable are planners' skills and knowledge from state to state?

Thanks!
 

Jeff

Cyburbian
Messages
4,161
Points
27
It was a big help for me in PA. All of my professors were local planners and were well versed in PA law.

One drawback though, while I was very prepared for planning in PA if I had to go anywhere else I probably would've been lost.

I've changed jobs, and now I deal with municipalities all over the country, but it isn't too bad because I have a firm grasp of the planning process and how it works.

But to answer your question, YES, I would say it is a benefit to study in the state you intend to practice but not a necessity. Ask some of the profs at an open house if they teach planning theory and history and all that junk you don't need, or if you tackle real issues that are effecting the local population and how do you deal with those problems using local ordinances.
 
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5,353
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I don't think it really matters. No planning school is going to teach you local zoning laws and etc. While I decided to stay in the same city, particularly since it's my hometown, many of my friends from grad school moved on to different cities and none of them have felt as if they were at a disadvantage because they didn't study planning in that particular area. Besides, not every state has a planning school......what happens to planners in those particular states?
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
I studied in the same place I ended up working (same city even)... and I don't really think it gave me much of an edge. If you are focusing on planning law or something, maybe that would make sense... but you can always go back and take a quick course later to brush up on the legislation for wherever you end up. I just went to a course a week ago (and I have a take home test to do today :( ) in order to learn Alberta legislation. I started in California and have worked there, Oregon, Washington and Alberta... and it's all similar enough that you can get by. You'll just have to learn the nuances of each place later.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
I'll agree with Planderella. I went to school in the pitiful, flat state of Illinois and moved to the great state of Wisconsin after getting three years of experience under my belt. The laws are different but the concepts are the same. You still write an ordinance the same way, just within the context of what statutes permit. A TIF district still works like a TIF district, you just have to follow a different set of procedures. At the entry level, it should make no difference at all where you go to school and where you work. At more advanced levels there is a bit of catch-up to do, as you familiarize yourself with the new state's legislation and common practices. On the other hand, you bring knowledge of how others do things - a new perspective that can be welcomed. I would like to know how others that moved to different countries feel on this one. Nerudite?
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,984
Points
29
Versa Vicea

I think you have it backwards. First, figure out where you want to live. Then find a school that teaches planning in that state. _ JMHO
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
My 2 cents take it or leave it

I don't think it matters where you go to school, but I think eventually it matters in your work history.

In other words, if I was hiring an entry level position, someone with a local degree would not have a leg up on the out of state applicants, all other things being equal. However, if I was hiring someone to fill a mid level or supervisory position, I would definitely look to an in-state person before an out of state person, all other things being equal.
 
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From my experience (moving up and down the east coast) it is often helpful to be from "out of town", supervisors are often looking for someone fresh and new -- and that can be found from someone that is educated or working in another state.
 

NHPlanner

Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,889
Points
38
Well, here in New England the choices are limited....there aren't any accredited Planning Programs in Northern New England. It hasn't mattered much in my career to this point....and there are very few people in NH that got their degree at UNH (where there's a community development program in the School of Economics).
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
I live in a different province from where I got my degree. Except for the legal and cultural ideals, good planning is good planning. You'll just need to learn the local customs and rules.

Being in Michigan you have many choices for planning schools (Michigan, Wayne State, Windsor, U Michigan).

Choose the school that focuses on topics you are interested in, offers you what you want, is a place where you don't mind spending 2-4 years and then think about employment.
 

Lee Nellis

Cyburbian
Messages
1,371
Points
29
Just to reinforce what seems to be the majority opinion. Go to school where you think you will get the best education. There may be specific agencies where being "local" makes a difference, but they are virtually always places you don't want to work anyway. I would lean against going to school in my home state. Most of the best planners I know have very diverse experiences and going to grad school someplace different is a good way to begin that …_
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
Michael Stumpf said:
I would like to know how others that moved to different countries feel on this one. Nerudite?
I think that if there is a particular country that you know you want to live in, then it would be easier to go to school there first. While there isn't much difference between States, there is a greater difference up here. Like donk said though, good planning is good planning. The important thing is that you have a solid planning background, you just need to re-study and adapt to the new legal framework each time you move out of Province/State.

The hardest thing I have adjusted to up here (other than driving on ice) is the difference in the language, because when you are being grilled by City Council you revert to old, familiar words. I often say Zoning Ordinance instead of Land Use Bylaw, Comprehensive Plan instead of Municipal Development Plan, etc. A lot of this you would pick up in school and carry it through your career if you were to stay in one place, which I guess would be an advantage. But as far as being able to acclimate to new legislation, Alberta is very very simple. Starting out in California, I think almost any State would have easier to follow Planning Legislation (and it appears that goes for Provinces too).

So I guess my advice is still the same... find a program that works for you and meshes with your interests. If it happens to be in a place that you would like to settle eventually, then that's awesome. But it's not a critical thing in my opinion.
 

mugbub

BANNED
Messages
67
Points
4
Do yourself a favor and get an MBA and have a successful, lucrative, and logical career. Take a few planning classes if you like it so much, then you can apply to your career. It doesn't make a damn bit of difference where you go to school as long as it isn't Po Dunk community college.
 

Wannaplan?

Galactic Superstar
Messages
3,149
Points
27
mugbub1 said:
Do yourself a favor and get an MBA and have a successful, lucrative, and logical career. Take a few planning classes if you like it so much, then you can apply to your career. It doesn't make a damn bit of difference where you go to school as long as it isn't Po Dunk community college.
How does one get awarded an MBA from a community college?
 
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