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The Planning School you go to DOES NOT MATTER!!!!

EX-planner

Member
Messages
17
Points
1
Hi all:

Your forum administrator just brought me to the attention of this forum after reading I was an ex-planner in a thread on another forum (a forum on skyscrapers). So I followed his link and checked out this forum and started reading the posts here. And I am shaking my head. Before I start my rant, let me tell you a bit about myself: I have BA in Geography from UNC-Charlotte (1987) with good grades, a Master of Urban Planning degree from the University of Washington (1991) with even better grades, I did about a half-dozen internships and odd-jobs before landing a long-term temporary job with King County WA doing watershed planning (2-2/3 years). And having seen and met a lot of planners and having done some planning myself after having gone through the entire planning school bit, I have one piece of advice for all of you asking each other which planning school is the "best." IT DOES NOT MATTER!! NO ONE HIRING PLANNERS REALLY GIVES A DAMN WHICH SCHOOL YOU WENT TO!!! I am serious. In the many many many interviews I went to, I never ever ever got the impression anyone gave one rat scrap that I had a degree from a "good" school or a "bad" school. They all teach pretty much the same (mostly useless) stuff, and pretty much anyone of average intelligence can be a good planner. Personally, having gone through the graduate school thing after having learned a lot of planning stuff as an undergraduate, I can tell you that graduate school for planning is pretty much a waste of time. 90% of what I learned about planning I learned from my geography degree, and maybe 10% I learned from my graduate degree. If you are coming from a totally non-planning related background and want to get into planning, then maybe it's OK to get the graduate planning degree. But if you learned a lot of planning stuff as an undergraduate, seriously, don't waste your time in graduate school (unless maybe you want to teach and get a PhD). You wont earn any more money than someone with a BS or BA in planning or geography or urban studies or whatever (see other threads in this section), and you won't learn substantially any more either. There might be a few research-type positions with Think-Tank consultant firms and stuff like that where a Master's will be helpful, but that's about it. So my advice is, if you absolutely insist on getting a graduate degree in planning, go to the cheapest school you can, party all you want (nobody cares about grades, either) and generally don't work too hard.

Of course, I would recommend not going into planning in the first place, but that's another story.
 

mike gurnee

Cyburbian
Messages
3,066
Points
30
I agree that the "best" school is not a good criterion for employment. The person is much more important. As for the benefit of a masters, well: if I have three applicants for a position and only one has a masters, there is a good chance that one will get the job (all other things being equal).
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
33
Wow

Nice rant. I respect your views.

My department has four full time professionals, with 7 advanced degrees between us. Only one of those is in planning per se. The others are Public Affairs, Public Administration, History, Biology, Natural Resources, and Geographic Information Systems. That is what makes us such a great team. We compliment each other without competing with each other.

I expect to retain that kind of diversity, heck even expand it. My point being, yes you can be a planning professional without the planning degree. [insert audible gasps from APA HQ here]. Don't even get me started on AICP.... ;)
 

Habanero

Cyburbian
Messages
3,241
Points
27
What I wish-

I agree that it's not all about the school.. but I wish there was some way to show how motivated you are when you went thru school.. It took me 3 years to get a BS in Urban Planning (I also put myself thru working full time, completing 2 internships as well) but I find it's hard for people to take me seriously since I'm the youngest in the office.
Any advice?
 

mike gurnee

Cyburbian
Messages
3,066
Points
30
Excellent point. I did not say the masters had to be in planning. In one job we ran the city CDBG program...planned it to death and never spent the money. After a couple of years I figured out the problem, and hired a business major (masters) to run the program. Went much better after that.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
33
Sponge Bob Square Planner

TexasPlanner, maybe its not your age but your avatar!

All kidding aside, I faced the same thing 10 years ago. I had my first dept. directors job at age 24 and no amount of hard work would grant me the respect that I thought was due. It just comes with tenure, or you move on...
 

prudence

Cyburbian
Messages
688
Points
19
TexasPlanner-

For once I agree with bturk. Oh how rare that is.

I was the only planner for a City of @ 35,000 people when I was 25. The department secretary had kids older than me...developers would have projects in town older than I was at the time...

Respect is earned over time...bite the bullet and you'll be fine. In time you'll be accomplishing more than they ever hoped to. We all made it...
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,985
Points
29
I'm thinking:

Ex-Planner: Unless it was a Masters from Kansas State - Then it is like the king of farm school diplomas!

TexasPlanner my suggestions on how to get respect from the old farts are:
1. Facial hair, gray temples and an oldsmobile.
2. Don't quote spongebob in city counil meetings.
3. No Britney Spears photos on the desk.

If these don't work let me know.
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,903
Points
34
I disagree somewhat with bturk and prudence- the old "ya gotta pay your dues first" argument doesn't wash with me. I find that if you project a mature attitude, listen to what others are saying, and think before you act/speak, age doesn't really matter. I was able to hold my ground quite well against the engineers/developers/ecdev people that had been around forever and knew everything - you just have to adjust your approach to suit the situation, and above all, don't give in just because they fall back on the "I've been doing this since before you were a twinkle in the milkman's eye" routine.
 

Habanero

Cyburbian
Messages
3,241
Points
27
True, true

I do understand that respect comes with time, but I also feel that even though I'm 22 3/4 (that's right, BABY, and 3/4!!) I deserve a litte more respect for actually getting thru school and having goals at my age. Granted, I may be a freak of nature, but I prefer "gifted" or "ball-buster" or even perhaps "driven".

Tex

p.s.
El Guano, I mean, Guapo.. EL GUAPO..
: )
Ohmigawd.. what do you mean? I can't sing "I'm A Slave For You" when researching zoning issues? That is sooooooo unfair!
 

EX-planner

Member
Messages
17
Points
1
mike gurnee wrote:
I agree that the "best" school is not a good criterion for employment. The person is much more important. As for the benefit of a masters, well: if I have three applicants for a position and only one has a masters, there is a good chance that one will get the job (all other things being equal).
Yes, but whichever one of the three you hire will get the same salary the other two woud have gotten, unless you have an extremely well-funded planning department that likes to dole out more $$ for advanced degrees, LOL!
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
33
Wrong, Ex-Planner!

I most definitely offer better pay to the candidate with the masters!

Or more to the point, I offer less to those that don't have it. The candidate with the masters can expect at least +5% pay difference at start, and it widens over time.
 

PBJ

Member
Messages
4
Points
0
hip-hip-hooray to you!!!

could you tell me more about planning and the devil?

(i am in the unfortunate position of being in grad school 'learning' planning at uw [ssshhhh, don't tell anyone]....)
 

planasaurus

Cyburbian
Messages
215
Points
9
Re: Sponge Bob Square Planner

bturk wrote:

All kidding aside, I faced the same thing 10 years ago. I had my first dept. directors job at age 24 and no amount of hard work would grant me the respect that I thought was due. It just comes with tenure, or you move on...
Where I used to work, the young prople ran the place. All of the old folks sat in their offices running consulting businesses on the side and figuring out how much they will make when they retired. We were unionized to it was literally impossable to get fired.

Nobody even bothered to ask any of the old guys to do anything, because we all knew that it would never get done. They came in the morning, closed their doors and nobody say or heard from them until they left. Also, some of them would make an appearance in the morning and then leave to conduct their own bisinesses by 10 a.m.

I guess if we wanted them to do any work we would have had to hire them as consultants.

I don't think that the name of the school matters, but having a masters degree does (at least for somebody with no experience).
 

EX-planner

Member
Messages
17
Points
1
PJB, the only advice I can give to you is GET OUT OF PLANNING AROUND SEATTLE!! Seattle is crawling with SO MANY wanna-be planners, marginally-employed planners doing odd jobs here and there and other planning hangers-on, it's not even funny. If you don't mind being in a field where every entry-level planning opening gets AT LEAST 100 applicants and sometimes up to 400, well then stick with it. If that's a bit too much competition for you, then get out - NOW!! There are just too many environmental types around here who want to help make beautiful Seattle even more beautiful, but there just aren't enough jobs for all of them. It's a WAY overcrowded field. I frankly think that's probably the case all around the country, but I could be wrong. What I do know is, is it's way overcrowded with planners around Seattle, probably Portland too, because the area attracts so many environmental types. Unfortunately I fell into that trap, and I know many others have too.

bturk, if you can pay more for the candidates with the Master's degrees, then hats off to you. Most of the jobs I interviewed for or held paid the same or almost the same no matter who got the job. However, mostly what I did was contract work/odd jobs and one very long-term temp job, so maybe my experience isn't entirely typical.
 

NHPlanner

Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,859
Points
38
EX-planner wrote:
It's a WAY overcrowded field. I frankly think that's probably the case all around the country, but I could be wrong.
It's not the case everywhere. Northern New England often times has a shortage of qualified applicants when positions become open. Part of it is salary (small NNE towns do not splurge on planners), but I've never understood why more applicants don't take advantage of great quality of life....
 

Dharmster

Cyburbian
Messages
440
Points
13
Planning Schools

I think ex-planner's conclusions are pretty much on target but he ignores a couple of really important points.

1) The MAJORITY of those entering urban planning programs have little or no background in urban planning or a closely related discipline (urban geography, public affairs, etc.)

2) The fact that planning job pay so little is due largely to the fact that planning as a discipline is held in such a low esteem by the general public.

Many of the same folks who planasaurus referred to are the same ones fighting against professionalization. They don't want state cerrtification because it might actually mean they have to god forbid pass a test and attend mandatory professional education.

Having said that I think that ex-planner ignores a VERY salient point and that is that no matter what you are doing you really need a masters degree (or at least have some graduate education) or people wonder about you after a certain age (say 35). I've held 5 bosses in my professional career and I thought I'd summarize their educational experience:

1) Had a bachelors degree at the time he supervised me as a summer intern (he now holds two masters degrees from MIT)
2) Had a MPP from the Kennedy School at Harvard
3) Had a MPP from the Goldman School at Berkeley
4) Had a MPP from the Kennedy school
5) My immediate boss had just a bachelors but dropped out of a Ph.D. program at Princeton, the guy who signed off on my checks had a MUP from Harvard
6) My current boss (I too am a ex-planner) has a MBA from Penn State

Coincidence? Maybe... but anyone who really doesn't think:

1) Graduate eduction isn't important
2) Where you go to school doesn't matter

Should really ask themselves is that really the truth or are they just bitter?
 

EX-planner

Member
Messages
17
Points
1
Dharmaster, did your bosses also have UNDERGRADUATE degrees in a planning-related field? If you read my first post above carefully, you'll see I said, "If you are coming from a totally non-planning related background and want to get into planning, then maybe it's OK to get the graduate planning degree." At the UW I knew people who had Bachelor's degrees in music, economics and all kinds of other things like that. If you're coming from that and want to go into planning, then yes, it would make sense to get a graduate planning degree. But if you have an undergraduate degree in urban geography or planning or urban studies, you're not really gonna learn a whole lot more by getting a graduate degree. This was my own experience. I learned a lot of planning stuff from my geography degree, but my Master's added very little overall to my knowledge, all it did was add to my student loan debt, lol. If any employers prefers to hire people with Master's degrees in planning over bachelor's degrees in planning, I have no idea why, all they will do is have to shell out a little more money (maybe) for nearly the same product.

As for the "Where you go to school doesn't matter" thing, sorry, but I still stand by that. If someone can show me objective criteria by which to rate a planning school, then I will change my mind. But I think rating the nation's planning schools is about as useful as rating, say, the nation's sociology schools - I mean, who really cares? They're practically ubiquitous and they all teach pretty much the same thing. There's good teachers and there's bad teachers in each and every school. And the majority of what they teach is useless, impractical, mostly theoretical stuff (though I guess all academic disciplines are probably like that). Finally, anyone can go to a supposedly "crummy" school and, with lots of studying, useful internships and so on, can get a lot out of it; while another student can go to Harvard or MIT and sail through and still not be as knowledgeable as the student from the supposedly "crummy" school. If I were an employer I would not give a damn about the school they went to, the particular attributes of the individual candidates are FAR more important!!

And no, I am not "bitter" about my situation, it forced me to make a career move that I am now glad I was forced to make.
 

Wannaplan?

Galactic Superstar
Messages
3,104
Points
26
EX-Planner mentions "useful internships" and I'm just curious if anyone can speak to this potentially important component of a graduate planning education.

My question is this: to what extent does attendance at a top name university and planning school afford the grad student to obtain useful work experience before graduation? For instance, does having a summer internship with the City of Detroit while attending the University of Michigan mean more for a potential employer as opposed to some one who attends Portland State University and works an internship in Portland, Oregon? Assuming the work load and quality is similar at each internship, does this comparison (Great School-Extremely Challenging City versus Average School-Somewhat Challenging City) suggest the University of Michigan student with the Detroit internship has an overall better graduate education and experience, thus affording more (and better) job offers?
 

Mary

Member
Messages
127
Points
6
To my experience the internship has more to do with what you do than who you do it for. At least what entity you do it for. On the other hand if your boss knows all the right people his/her recommendation may take you far. And if the place you are working is hiring soon you may find that you are partly trained and hopefully have fans who would love to help you get the new position.

Good luck.

My recomendation... Hunt for an internship with a decent sized community in a part of the country that you want to work. Also look for a boss who's lived and worked in the area for awhile. Ask questions about where to go to get to meet more planners. The boss who can direct you to the local APA meetings etc. may be helpful. Lastly hunt for a job where you can get experience doing a number of different things. If you play file clerk for a summer it will not help you as much as if you work with legals discriptions, and zoning issues, and learning to answer questions at the counter, and reading or even altering GIS or Auto cad maps and.... you get the idea. The more you learn the better off you are.
 

Wannaplan?

Galactic Superstar
Messages
3,104
Points
26
Mary, thanks for the info. However, I am not looking for internship. (Perhaps your words will help some one else!)

What I'm getting at is how a school that has many resources (i.e. the University of Michigan) may possibly confer better internship advantages and opportunities to a grad student versus a student at a school that doesn't have as many resources. EX-planner offers a compelling argument regarding grad planning programs (i.e. they are all the same), however, I believe his remarks refer to the academic side of things. What I'm trying to figure out is if the so-called academically "better" schools can offer more to students, such as a high-quality internship placement.
 

Habanero

Cyburbian
Messages
3,241
Points
27
Hmmm

Well, I went to a smaller school, no big names for me, and I landed a job working under Frank Turner. As far as internships go I believe it has more to do with the person and what you do with the education rather than where you get the degree.
 

Dharmster

Cyburbian
Messages
440
Points
13
In response to your points:

1) Your original post responds to those asking about planning schools. Well, I believe that the MAJORITY of master students in accredited planning schools nationwide don't have a undergraduate degree in urban studies, urban geography, etc. So you do caveat your response, but not up front. My undergraduate degree WAS in urban studies. But hell, I was 20 when I started my senior year and naive as hell, but even little young naive me found out by asking faculty, graduate students, etc. The majority of people posting on this board don't come from closely related backgrounds and thus don't have a clue (which is why they are asking)!

2) My bosses had mostly public policy degrees with some urban planning oriented classes. In fact, except for the Harvard MUP they were not planners. I worked at a international NGO, a consulting firm, a international financial institution and now for a quasi-government company . So perhaps, I am unusual being 5 years into my professional carreer and not yet having worked for a local government. But getting to your point, I think there only a handful of places where you can get a PLANNING degree as a undergraduate major and the MAJORITY of planning schools applicants don't have one.

3) As for rankings, I think they do have a role. For a small discipline like planning, there really aren't any published rankings except for the Gourman Report (which is questionable at best). However, having said that rankings do matter. I did transportation, and you better bet I know which planning schools are good. Yes, I can look at a resume (and I'm sure others are capable too) and know that someone is excpetional even if they have a degree from a less than big name school and I hope others do the same. By the way, I went to not one but two state schools and still got hired by the above mentioned folks, so I know some but not all people do look beyond the schools you went to.

4) The school you go to DOES matter. The fact is that at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, you often learn as much if not more from your fellow students as from your professors. Okay, in planning once you get beyond the say the top 5-8 schools there is not much selectivity (hey its true so don't kill the messenger). You can bet the bottom dollar there is a difference. For example, the graduate students at my undergraduate alma mater are for the most part not that smart (having said that I have a former colleage, from that program but there were some circumstances that prevented him from going elsewhere). Planning schools DO NOT publish their admissions stats, but I can guarantee you that Berkely and MIT are very selective, then places like USC, UCLA, Georgia Tech, Harvard, and Penn are somewhat selective (I'm sure I missed a few) and the rest admit just about anyone who has a pulse. That's the sad truth and its not going to change anytime soon.



EX-planner wrote:
Dharmaster, did your bosses also have UNDERGRADUATE degrees in a planning-related field?

As for the "Where you go to school doesn't matter" thing, sorry, but I still stand by that. If someone can show me objective criteria by which to rate a planning school, then I will change my mind. But I think rating the nation's planning schools is about as useful as rating, say, the nation's sociology schools - I mean, who really cares? They're practically ubiquitous and they all teach pretty much the same thing. There's good teachers and there's bad teachers in each and every school. And the majority of what they teach is useless, impractical, mostly theoretical stuff (though I guess all academic disciplines are probably like that). Finally, anyone can go to a supposedly "crummy" school and, with lots of studying, useful internships and so on, can get a lot out of it; while another student can go to Harvard or MIT and sail through and still not be as knowledgeable as the student from the supposedly "crummy" school. If I were an employer I would not give a damn about the school they went to, the particular attributes of the individual candidates are FAR more important!!
 
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EX-planner

Member
Messages
17
Points
1
Beaner, I personally see absolutely no advantage in going to a "prestigous" school as opposed to an average-joe school. Concerning getting internships, I think that has more to do with the location of the school and the internship than anything else. Obviously if you're going to Cornell University in the middle of nowhere in upstate New York, your opportunites for landing a planning internship while you're in school is far less than if you went to Portland State University in a metro area like Portland. In this case, you're obviously much better off in Portland than in Ithaca, NY. Now, comparing going to different planning schools in the same metro area, I still do not see any difference. A planning student from, say, Columbia University is not really gonna be much smarter (planning stuff-wise) than another planning student from, say, Brooklyn College. Far more important are the personal aspects of each candidate. Now, it may be that Columbia University might have certain "connections" to some local employers that might help get their students an internship a little easier, but with just a little more effort the student from Brooklyn College can probably get him or herself pretty much the same opportunities. And the BC student will probably save LOTS of money on tuition!!!

Now, setting aside the issue of internships, I *still* see no advantage in going to a supposedly "prestigous" school, unless you want to eventually land a job as a hot-shot consultant or something like that. The planning schools in both Columbia University and in Brooklyn College (I'm supposing they have a planning school, of course) are both gonna teach pretty much the same things - 80% of which, I might add, will be useless garbage (that goes for both colleges). If I were a planning director I could care less what school anyone went to.
 

Dharmster

Cyburbian
Messages
440
Points
13
I think it's important to get our definitions straight here.

What we are discussing is graduate URBAN PLANNING programs. As such, we are not talking about the general reputation of the university but of the planning program.

Someone bought up Portland State Univeristy (PSU) and Michigan as examples. Everyone knows that Michigan > PSU(and it isn't even close). However, the urban planning program at PSU is quite good and probably in the same league as Michigans. Similarily, the urban planning program at Columbia is not so good and many people go there just to say they went to Columbia (and I'm sure many good rejected by the business school, or public policy schools).

So let's try and all discuss the reputation of the urban planning program (or a speciality) and not of the universities in general(where there is much published information and much less disagreement)! We'll all be less confused and a lot clearer!

EX-planner wrote:

Now, setting aside the issue of internships, I *still* see no advantage in going to a supposedly "prestigous" school, unless you want to eventually land a job as a hot-shot consultant or something like that. The planning schools in both Columbia University and in Brooklyn College (I'm supposing they have a planning school, of course) are both gonna teach pretty much the same things - 80% of which, I might add, will be useless garbage (that goes for both colleges). If I were a planning director I could care less what school anyone went to.
 

EX-planner

Member
Messages
17
Points
1
Dharmaster, my point is this: How does anyone know what makes a good planning school, and what makes a poor one? Are planning schools ranked in US News and World Report every year? LOL - no! Does the APA rank them? No. Does *anyone* rank them? I seriously doubt it. If you *were* to rank them, what would you rank them on? As I said, they all teach pretty much the same thing, much of which is garbage. They all have their share of good teachers and bad teachers. So what's the difference? I say, there's really very little difference, aside from the cost of tuition! When someone says, "Oh, go to X University, they have a good planning school," what are they basing that on? I claim it's based on nothing but hearsay and rumors, which should tell you how accurate their assesment is. They're pretty much all the same, so you're probably better off going to a cheaper one.
 

Mary

Member
Messages
127
Points
6
I don't know about schools being good or bad but they do NOT all teach the same thing. I went to Eastern Washington University where the education was designed to deal with rural community planning. Yes some of it was strictly theory and the same as every other school probably but not all of it. I got to participate in a community participation program on a comprehensive plan in a real community. I got to suffer through the joys of a windshield survey. We got involved directly in projects and we learned more about small towns. On the other hand I got almost NO experience with design and was pretty much told that architectural specialties would be found at the University of Washington.
 

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,890
Points
26
Re: What I wish-

TexasPlanner wrote:
I agree that it's not all about the school.. but I wish there was some way to show how motivated you are when you went thru school.. It took me 3 years to get a BS in Urban Planning (I also put myself thru working full time, completing 2 internships as well) but I find it's hard for people to take me seriously since I'm the youngest in the office.
Any advice?
I did a similar route.

I'm 23, did 2 internships, BS in GIS/Urban Geography. now, youngest by 4 years in the office.

I get loads of repsect here, only because i'm confidnet, learn everything, am comittted, etc.
 

mike gurnee

Cyburbian
Messages
3,066
Points
30
I started planning late, getting out of grad school in my late 20s. Been a director for 25 years. I don't get any respect either.
 

EX-planner

Member
Messages
17
Points
1
Mary, when I say, 'They pretty much teach the same thing,' I mean that, sure, some teach it with an urban emphasis and some teach it with a rural or regional emphasis, but even that is much of the same thing. It's still the same basic kinds of processes, same concepts, and so on. It's like getting a degree in International Business vs. getting a degree in regular Business - they're both business, pretty much the same thing with some minor variation in contexts.

As for the University of Washington, yes they did have some design stuff but they also had lots of regular land use courses.
 

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,890
Points
26
EX-planner wrote:
Mary, when I say, 'They pretty much teach the same thing,' I mean that, sure, some teach it with an urban emphasis and some teach it with a rural or regional emphasis, but even that is much of the same thing. It's still the same basic kinds of processes, same concepts, and so on. It's like getting a degree in International Business vs. getting a degree in regular Business - they're both business, pretty much the same thing with some minor variation in contexts.

As for the University of Washington, yes they did have some design stuff but they also had lots of regular land use courses.
speaking on planning. Planning is really just social managment. It's what angle you look at social managment from.

Urban design planners, see social management from a more artsy and creative approach. The come with ideas like 'new urbanism' and inner city revitalization. they give the people what they want. the create an astheticly pleasing city that is very livable.

Urban Geography majors see the community or region as a set of conditions that have a cause-effect relationship related to the locations and spatial distribution of those who can contribute to the welfare and welbeing of the community and those resources that can be applied to increase the vitality of the system while creating a livable, efficent city.

It's that simple.

Same goal, two different approaches. It depends on the school, it depends on the Bachelor degree, it depends on the Master degree.

Both can be successful, both are equally qualified.

I look at my city as a business, but i want to make sure that all my 'employees and shareholders' are happy with the cities direction. I will make sure i manage the city (at least manage the planning and zoning of it) so that it runs smoothly, increases the quality of life, and expands into services that are needed.

i got totally off-topic. blah
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,985
Points
29
Sadly...

..there is no Graduate Social Darwinism School of Planning. I took the short course from the Chamber last summer.

It’s all a form of political science...who's kidding who. It's as old as telling people to clean up their end of the cave or they get fed to the wolves and mastodons (Note: Mastodons are believed to be Herbivores/vegetarians, perhaps even Vegans. Instead of the kindly mastodon picture any sufficiently rabid carnivore in the throws of a bloody kill. That will be all ) Its in our genetic code. You're a slob or a fussy bastard. Pick one.
 
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prudence

Cyburbian
Messages
688
Points
19
I thought mastadons were herbivores??

And didn't you hear?...the liberals have outlawed social darwinism.
 

Dharmster

Cyburbian
Messages
440
Points
13
Planning School Rankings

Ex-planner, I think you are totally off base here. If your goal is to get a job (any job) in the locale that the university you want to go to is in, then any school will do. However, to just brush off that there are no rankings or even a pecking order is extremely naive!

EX-planner wrote:
Dharmaster, my point is this: How does anyone know what makes a good planning school, and what makes a poor one? As I said, they all teach pretty much the same thing, much of which is garbage. They all have their share of good teachers and bad teachers. So what's the difference? I say, there's really very little difference, aside from the cost of tuition! When someone says, "Oh, go to X University, they have a good planning school," what are they basing that on? I claim it's based on nothing but hearsay and rumors, which should tell you how accurate their assesment is. They're pretty much all the same, so you're probably better off going to a cheaper one.
 

EX-planner

Member
Messages
17
Points
1
Then show me some rankings or a 'pecking order.' And show me what criteria was used to determine these rankings and who did the ranking.

And once you do that, I can probably find a kajillion people who will vehemently disagree with this ranking.
 
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I agree that there is quite a bit of difference between the planning programs offered at the various universities. Chapel Hill is supposedly a "better" planning school than Clemson, but from what I've heard, there is very little internship experience that is involved at Chapel Hill. Which I think is one of the big biggies that employers look for on the resumes of freshly minted graduates.

However, even with the big differences between the various graduate schools, I think that the really important thing to employers is just that you went, not necessarily where. I agree that "brand name" universities are really only necessary for hot shot consultants, and the average employer, looking for entry level planners, really does't care if their applicant went to Buffalo as opposed to Michigan.

I got my first job out of grad school from the place where I'd started interning when I was 23. I was easily 10 years younger than the guy who had previously been the department young guy, and 20 years younger than the next. Although I never felt that my input wasn't valued, I was definitely treated like the baby, usually because everyone else had children older than I, and there hadn't been young blood in my department in a long time. Once you've put some time in, and your staff gets to know you better, you'll stop being the new "kid", and they will be used to seeing you and working with you as a part of their team.
 
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nicaja

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MIT help!

OK people, I just got accepted into MIT's grad program in City Planning, with a focus on International Development and Regional Planning. I was pretty damn excited until I learned I was not offered ANY financial aid-- and the school costs 26K/year! ouch. Now I'm reading about how "the school you go to does NOT matter" and freaking out even further. Should I go? Is it foolish NOT to? I'm 32 and not thrilled about living on "mac and cheese", as someone mentioned in the forum. Yet, I yearn to go back to school and be stimulated, and become a "master" of something, vs. a "jack of all trades". For me, it's now or never if I want to pursue an advanced degree. advice?

I'm also still learning about the planning field: I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Nicaragua, and now I'm working at an International Development NGO in Washington, DC. I like the idea of Int'l planning because it seems to combine public policy with international development. Does anyone have any input on potential careers in international planning? It seems alot of MIT grads end up at the World Bank...

Thanks!
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
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Kansas State - That's the ticket!

Go to KSU and have $20,000 left over every year to invest in mutual funds. You get a lovely certificate suitable for framing at the end of the process and you will have about $70,000 in the bank when you graduate. Plus, they have great icecream at Call Hall. Screw Mac and Cheese.
 
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nicaja -

i would seriously suggest you start looking for another planning grad program that has some element of international planning. there is no reason you should pay for grad school if you don't have to. i would definitely investigate options if you don't really care about a name brand degree. however, since what i know about international planning could fit in my baby cousin's bob the builder hard hat, you might want to talk to an actual international planner and get their advice. because that is a crap load of money to borrow.
 

mike gurnee

Cyburbian
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Take your MIT acceptance letter, put it in a scrap book, and go to an affordable school that has a decent international program. Sometimes I can be an academic snob, but I am against poverty--especially my own.
 

EX-planner

Member
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Needless to say, I agree with everyone above. Unless you want to work for a hotshot consulting firm or want to go into teaching, save your money and go somewhere cheaper.
 

Dharmster

Cyburbian
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Think very carefully. Even amoung MIT grads the competition for jobs at the World Bank or IDB is fierce with just a masters degree. If you have to borrow everything, I'd think twice or thrice before borrowing that kind of money.


nicaja wrote:
Does anyone have any input on potential careers in international planning? It seems alot of MIT grads end up at the World Bank...

Thanks!
That's easier said than done. Only a handful of urban planning programs in the US have a international component. MIT has by far and away the best program and its widely recognized as such. Having said that, if you don't have any money saved, you'll have to borow something like 80K for two years of tuition and living expenses. That's a LOT of debt, and in the international development field a Ph.D. is very usefull, so you may have to take on more debt.

KMateja wrote:
nicaja -

i would seriously suggest you start looking for another planning grad program that has some element of international planning. there is no reason you should pay for grad school if you don't have to. i would definitely investigate options if you don't really care about a name brand degree.
 
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Vasanth

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" keep it going "

Hey Guys

Keeep on going

Why did you stop this thread

I've really learnt a lot of new thingz after reading all your messages above

B4 that let me introduce myself ,I am Vasanth, I 'll be in my second year Grad school this Fall-02,for my Masters in Regional & Community Planning degree from Kansas State University(I know you all think this school as very low standard) and I am from India,

I really wanted to save some money but still wanted to have a Masters degree in Planning,Hence ended up here in Kansas (This is the first place I landed up directly from India) which I think a good descent Planning school, but the department we have is not to big

And important of all, I am now on my Summer Internship in a GIS Consulting company in Washington DC Metro

Dont stop this thread this is rreally important topic for someone like me who is in a midst of deciding his career path and deciding which school to go for (which I aready passed)

I really got this doubt of "does Planning school really matter" for having a good career in this field, when I was in India, and was deciding which schools to apply for ,and also after coming to Kansas.

this forum has really increased my insight and knowledge

I am happy to find a really helpful forum like this where all of us can share our views and exchange information

Once again guys " keep it going "
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
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NHPlanner said:


It's not the case everywhere. Northern New England often times has a shortage of qualified applicants when positions become open. Part of it is salary (small NNE towns do not splurge on planners), but I've never understood why more applicants don't take advantage of great quality of life....
Problem is, the quality of life is pretty good in most places (except the plains and the deep south), and when you add proximity to friends and family, etc., there is even more of a motivation to stay put. That comes from a person who has lived in six states since leaving the nest. If the job does not pay more than $60,000, I'm not going to apply, and even then, its gotta be a good one. Someday, maybe, the people hiring planners (and economic developers) will realize that we do deserve a decent salary.
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
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Re: " keep it going "

Vasanth said:
Hey Guys,I am Vasanth, I 'll be in my second year Grad school this Fall-02,for my Masters in Regional & Community Planning degree from Kansas State University(I know you all think this school as very low standard) and I am from India,
First thing you need to learn is to not disparage KSU on this board.
Second, Go talk to the Geography Department down the hall to the North in Seaton. They can give you good advice.

And don't sell a KSU education short...
 

Habanero

Cyburbian
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Re: Re: " keep it going "

El Guapo said:


And don't sell a KSU education short...
But if you got a degree from TAMU, you wouldn't be able to sell your education for most of the planners I'm come in contact from there aren't worth the paper their degrees are printed on..
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,078
Points
33
Re: Re: " keep it going "

El Guapo said:


First thing you need to learn is to not disparage KSU on this board.
Second, Go talk to the Geography Department down the hall to the North in Seaton. They can give you good advice.

And don't sell a KSU education short...
I'll back El Guapo up 100% on this one. Don't go saying anything bad about KSU. It serves a role. not everyone can go to a good school.

I've always received good advice from Geography folks. For some reason, it seams like they have a broader perspective and a little better grip on the 'real' vs. the academic world.
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
29
Re: MIT help!

nicaja said:

I'm also still learning about the planning field: I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Nicaragua, and now I'm working at an International Development NGO in Washington, DC. I like the idea of Int'l planning because it seems to combine public policy with international development. Does anyone have any input on potential careers in international planning? It seems alot of MIT grads end up at the World Bank... Thanks!
I really wanted to get into International Planning (and no... I don't count Canada! ;))... and it is *hard*. I think that some of what ex-planner says is true regarding planning programs, but I do believe that International Planning is one of those specialties where the big name school counts. *Especially* if you want to work for the World Bank, the UN, or any other government-funded international organization. To tell you the truth, because it is so specialized, I would try to get an "in" with one of the HR departments and talk to them... see what they look for. And if you really want to get into International Planning, stay as close to Washington D.C. as possible. There are a few non-profits/international companies on the West Coast that specialize in the Pacific Rim or Central America, but for the most part D.C. is the place to be.
 

Vasanth

Member
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5
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0
Re: Re: " keep it going "

El Guapo said:


First thing you need to learn is to not disparage KSU on this board.
Second, Go talk to the Geography Department down the hall to the North in Seaton. They can give you good advice.

And don't sell a KSU education short...
Hey

Seems like you miss understood it

And I DO LOVE MY SCHOOL HERE and ITZ VERY GOOD and DESCENT(I did mention this in my first message)

If you felt that I disparaged it......... sorry for that....... But I did'nt do it

And seems like you know KSU very well

Just to let you know, I was an RA for Geography Dept in Spring-02
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
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Good Ol' KSU

Vasanth,
Both my wife and I hold degrees from KSU. So, I guess we do know it well. Say Hi to Dr. Paul for me. He was my wife's Ph.D. advisor. I was being a little dramatic. Sorry if the interpetation didn't make it through in text message I posted.

What part of India are you from? My wife is from Calcutta.

:0 Michael Stumpf - You rascal!


Kansas State University - The Harvard of the Plains
 
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