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Univ of Pennsylvania 🇺🇸 University of Pennsylvania (Penn) thread

Victory

Cyburbian
Messages
258
Points
10
I'm right there with you on the attentiveness that Penn displays towards its prospective applicants. I've become resigned to the fact that Planning is simply considered a second class concentration at many schools, but what I've taken away from Penn is is that they recognize its importance, and want to foster the potential of future leaders in the field. Their enthusiasm is admittedly a bit infectious, and quite frankly if accepted, I wouldn't feel like I'd be selling my soul to the devil for an ivy league education (ie Columbia).
 

FuturePlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
76
Points
4
Penn

I went to Penn's open house and was very impressed, as well. I wish I had been able to attend the happy hour or previous night's mixer, because I didn't get a chance to interact one on one with the students much. But the faculty seems truly top notch. My interest is in urband design; I met with the chair of the program who easily sold me on it and gave advice for my application, which will be important since I'm switching careers.
The buildings and campus seem great, although I wish I had seen the actual facilities where students work; Harvard gives each student his/her own space to work.
 

wvhoo

Cyburbian
Messages
63
Points
4
I'm primarily using this post to show prospective students the sort of ideas you can be exposed to at Penn and probably many places where the school has a good rapport with the community. I visited for two days last week and was pleasantly surprised by the breadth of topics covered.


Class #1: Intro to City Planning

The stuff in this class was pretty basic, but an interesting thing the professor did was assign students to basically write a blog post about a planning subject. You could tell that the students were pretty good writers and had some interesting topics (uncovering a river in Seoul was one that stoodout)

Class #2: Planning Studio

This wasn't really a class, per se, but I walked in and immediately started talking to students. The theme of the class was climate change, and the project that the whole class of 15 worked together on planning the Delaware River basin and how increases in water level might change the area. One student walked through with me with the presentation. I talked to another student at length about transportation specialization and her summer internship in Philly

Class #3: Urban and Regional Economies
This class was a discussion about the current financial crisis. There was supposed to be a speaker, but couldn't make it.

Class #4:Urban Policy and Regional Analysis
This class is party taught by the Deputy Mayor of Philadelphia, Andrew Altman. In this class, he talked about the current financial crisis, the assumptions and political ramifications of the planned budget cuts. Also talked about TIFs (tax increment financing districts). This was pretty awesome.

Class #5: Community and Economic Development Practicum

In this class, the director of a local Foundation, The Fels Foundation, came and discussed the foundation, their goals, how they distribute funds and receive funds, what sort of organizations and programs get funded. In the second half of the class (which I missed), the students were to work on theoretical grant applications for the non profit groups they work with.

Class #6: Land Use and Transportation Planning
In this class the founder and director of Phillycarshare, a non profit car sharing program came to talk about car sharing, phillycar share, its users and its business model, and other topics. This may have been my favorite class that I visited. The professor (who I had talked with for a bit before class) was very energetic, and the students were very interested.


Outside of class, I got to visit with a planning student, who talked about his summer internship in New Orleans. I also visited with the chair of the program and talked to him about my experience. He also straight up asked me my GPA and GRE scores. (Luckily those are pretty good for me). His advice for those applying- "don't make your personal statement 3/4s a BIO" and try to get recommenders who can speak to your ability to be a good grad student.

All in all a great experience. I couldn't help talking the whole time when I was with professors and students. It's pretty awesome to be with others who share your same (kind of nerdy) interests.
 

teofilo

Cyburbian
Messages
291
Points
10
His advice for those applying- "don't make your personal statement 3/4s a BIO"
Could you expand a bit on what he said about this? I'm not applying to Penn, but I am getting ready to work on my statement. Many schools' applications seem to imply that statements should be largely biographical, but this seems to show that that may not be an accurate impression (or that there is a difference of opinion on the subject).
 

wvhoo

Cyburbian
Messages
63
Points
4
Penn asks specifically for the following info:

1.How you came interested in planning
2) What you hope to do with your degree and graduate education once finished
3) Why Penn Planning is a good fit for your interests and professional plans

Its only 500 words, so to be able to talk about #2 and #3 with some conviction requires a little less #1 (which is sort of what a 'bio' might entail). Other places have a much bigger word limit.
 

dcstacie

Cyburbian
Messages
57
Points
4
I also visited Penn's program recently, and the chair told me to also include in my personal statement details about my practical work experience (I've been out of school for about 6 years now) that would make me a good planning student.
 

bessymarch

Cyburbian
Messages
66
Points
4
I visited last week and came away with a very favorable impression. Everyone was so helpful and enthusiastic but the chair was very honest about the financial aid situation (not good).
 

dcstacie

Cyburbian
Messages
57
Points
4
I'm surprised we all didn't run into each other. My visit was last week, as well. I really enjoyed the class I sat in on, and my talks with students, although I will second or third that the chair wasn't enthusiastic about financial aid. At least he was honest, though.

The integration of PennPlanning with the city of Philadelphia was very exciting. The students I spoke to were very excited about the second year studio that will focus on a comprehensive plan for the city.
 

Basher

Cyburbian
Messages
52
Points
4
I sent in my application to PennPlanning today and all other materials (recs, transcripts, etc.) should be submitted within a week. I know the deadline isn't until February and we're not supposed to hear back until March or so, but when can I expect a response? Has anyone ever heard back earlier than expected? Was there any advantage to applying early?

Thanks!

:)
 

FuturePlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
76
Points
4
I applied to Penn (and some other schools) back in September because I left the country then and won't return until March. Other than confirmations I haven't heard anything else. I wouldn't expect to hear anything about a decision at least until after the application deadline. But we can always hope...
 

Basher

Cyburbian
Messages
52
Points
4
UGHHHH, I want to hear now! Waiting is torture!

Thanks for the response, maybe we'll both be PennPlanning 2012...
 

Picnic

Member
Messages
2
Points
0
Is there anyone that has been admitted to the master of city planning program in the University of Pennsylvania, and that has no inclination to get enrolled? I was put to the waiting list.
 

inky crash

Cyburbian
Messages
72
Points
4
I was accepted, but unless the financial aid package supposedly in the mail has some big numbers in it, I won't be going there. Good luck!
 

Picnic

Member
Messages
2
Points
0
Thanks for replying. I desired to go there, but was put to the waiting list. When will you hear of the financial package? If you gave up the admission finally, I'm wondering whether you could recommend me when replying to the department.
 

banter

Cyburbian
Messages
37
Points
2
Anyone else decided on Penn? I'm just wondering if anyone has any information or ideas about

-their adviser/professor (mine is Birch or Landis)
-orientation
-first day of classes (when is it?)
-transportation in the city/SEPTA (is it in-epta?)
-where you might live in Philly

I've been to Philly a few times before, but don't know the city intimately. A few friends have told me that the neighborhoods of cedar park, fairmount, rittenhouse area, and most of the city west of the university is pretty nice. Any comments or suggestions? I do not want to live in an undergrad ghetto.
 

jersbanks

Cyburbian
Messages
64
Points
4
-transportation in the city/SEPTA (is it in-epta?)
-where you might live in Philly


A few friends have told me that the neighborhoods of cedar park, fairmount, rittenhouse area, and most of the city west of the university is pretty nice. Any comments or suggestions? I do not want to live in an undergrad ghetto.
Didn't chime in because I'm not going. But it is SEPTA. It's not the greatest transit system (and not the worst), but the trolley line in west philly has made things a lot better. Philly is a pretty big biking city... but I should qualify that by saying that a lot of people bike there, not that the infrastructure is always that bike-friendly. The transit strike also made me realize how nice it is to just walk places.

The area immediately around Penn's campus is kind of an undergrad ghetto. I would be careful generalizing west of the university and fairmount being nice. Rittenhouse is pricey and a little older (I only know some law students that live there). Cedar Park (/West) is close enough to the university, coffee shops, bars, other grad students, but also diverse with some nice parks.
 

colonelkurtz

Member
Messages
8
Points
0
Anyone else decided on Penn? I'm just wondering if anyone has any information or ideas about

-their adviser/professor (mine is Birch or Landis)
-orientation
-first day of classes (when is it?)
-transportation in the city/SEPTA (is it in-epta?)
-where you might live in Philly

I've been to Philly a few times before, but don't know the city intimately. A few friends have told me that the neighborhoods of cedar park, fairmount, rittenhouse area, and most of the city west of the university is pretty nice. Any comments or suggestions? I do not want to live in an undergrad ghetto.
I mean west philly may adhere to your idea of an "undergrad ghetto" depending but I thought it was pretty nice around there. Cheaper than center city and most definitely rittenhouse, and just as accessible (if not a little more). It's a nice area, and if I attend I'd probably end up around there.

I dig Philly and Penn's program (the students seem of a good caliber, and the likelihood of job placement in the private sector is higher there than at some of the other programs I'm looking at), but right now I'm having a hard time justifying the increase in student debt by a solid factor of 2 between there and Michigan, so I have no idea what I'm going to do yet.

Landis is a very bright, approachable guy who doesn't waste time in giving you the bottom line of what needs to be done and what resources are available, and the other faculty I met there were seriously on point as well. I regret not being able to meet Prof. Birch since she was at the APA conference. Hillier is hilarious and is a GIS and social justice wizard. I could go on but every faculty member I met there would be a lot of fun to work with.

SEPTA is an antiquated system of tokens, punchcards, and cash for the everyman and that got on my nerves when I was trying to get around, but it's a pretty extensive and efficient system.
 

wahday

Cyburbian
Messages
3,960
Points
23
Its been a long time (15 years) since I lived in Philly and went to Penn grad school (not in Planning, though). I was back two years ago and already a lot had changed.

All that being said, I concur with most everything Jersbanks said. SEPTA leaves a lot to be desired and the road network in Philly makes bus transit very tedious. But if you are living in any of the areas you mentioned, its a pretty straight shot to Penn.

West Philadelphia is a very large area and while places near both Penn and neighboring Drexel may be what you think of as a student ghetto, it is still all in the midst of a major urban area, so you will end up living around all kinds of different folks. I lived further out at 45th and Locust and then at 48th and Cedar and did not feel the areas were dominated by students. 48th and Cedar was my favorite location - a real neighborhood with many long-term residents. I remember hearing a car window getting broken and going downstairs from my third floor apartment to find 5 other residents also out on the street to see what was going on. Very involved.

I also lived in Germantown which was a bit of a haul to Penn, but not too bad. I biked a lot when I lived there and while the streets are not well adapted for bicyclists, there are a lot on the streets and often you can get to places faster than by car (especially when you factor in parking). If I were going back, I would probably look further west of Penn in West Philly. I think it will be most affordable, good access and you are likely to find a nice little neighborhood in there with longer term residents that feels stable and engaged.
 

banter

Cyburbian
Messages
37
Points
2
I'll be at Penn in the Fall, see you there!

Now to figure out housing.....
Sweet! Good to hear about a classmate! You'll have a much easier time finding a place: if you're in NY you can go out for the day or a weekend, right? Do you know when and where you'll start looking?

Are you focusing on HP? Do you know your adviser?

My plan to was to go to Philly in mid-August and secure a rental for September, then spend some time with friends in the area.

Thanks to the other posters for their insight. Much appreciated!
 

corncob06

Member
Messages
13
Points
1
I'll be there as well! Send in my acceptance link this morning! Eager to get to philadelphia and figure things out, like HOUSING ...

I'm excited to be in the program, and to study in a large, older, industrial city (my living experience has been LA and Atlanta so far).

PS I've been to Philadelphia 5 times in my life, and each time, SEPTA has had issues ... so idk
 

josiesposies

Member
Messages
18
Points
1
Philly

I will be at Penn in the fall too! Yay! I am not planning on moving until early August, and am a little nervous about finding housing once I get there, but after having lived in the SF Bay Area and D.C., I figure it can't be any worse, and I am definitely looking forward to the lower cost of living.

I do not know who my advisor will be, or when orientation and/or classes start, although I did find an academic calendar that had the first week of classes starting the Wednesday after Labor Day.

Overall, I can't wait to start the program, and I am really looking forward to meeting the rest of the incoming class!
 

crimeasart

Cyburbian
Messages
25
Points
2
Did any of you guys receive any confirmation from Penn after you submitted your deposit or heard anything else from them?

Thanks!
 

banter

Cyburbian
Messages
37
Points
2
Go on, take the money and run

Did any of you guys receive any confirmation from Penn after you submitted your deposit or heard anything else from them?

Thanks!
Ha! Haven't heard a whisper since I sent em the bones. In fact, my "replacement" at my planning job just started on Monday, and she went to PennPlanning (coincidentally, we're switching places). She confirmed that 1) yes, they shut up once they've heard from you and 2) Penn is stingy with money.

@josiesposies - you're in Oakland? Do you work in the town? Maybe we met at the open house... I remember speaking to another oaklander :h:
 

josiesposies

Member
Messages
18
Points
1
@banter - I actually didn't make it to the open house (I had to travel east for family-related stuff the week before the open house, so I just visited then instead). Are you going to the PennDesign happy hour thing in SF on the 26th?
 

banter

Cyburbian
Messages
37
Points
2
^Yes I am. Look forward to seeing you there.. what else is there to say about penn?
 

WCPlanner

Member
Messages
19
Points
1
I will be going to Penn in the fall too! See you guys there.

I think I am contemplating grad housing just because I don't think I will have the time to go out and look?
 

munsonmunson

Member
Messages
4
Points
0
PennPlanning

I will also be going to PennPlanning. I didn't get to go to the open house and haven't met any of the professors in person, but I have gotten some letters (the rest of you may have gotten them by now) indicating that orientation will be on Tuesday September 7 and the first day of class will be the next day. Penn has got a few good tools for finding housing in the area -- from here check out "Search Listings" and "2010 Graduate Guide" -- and places are already starting to fill up fast, especially if you're looking to not spend a lot. I'm just looking within walking distance of campus (a mile or so).
 

alexha

Member
Messages
7
Points
0
I took a year off after undergrad, and applied to urban planning school this cycle, as it was always what I wanted to do. So far, I have been accepted at Penn, and am still waiting to hear from other schools. I was wondering if anyone could give me any insight into stuff about the program, such as overall reputation in the field, strengths/weaknesses, opportunities for funding/internships, etc. I know a couple threads have been made in the past, but they all seem to be a few years old, and I didn't know what had or had not changed since then, and I just wanted a general idea.
 

glutton

Cyburbian
Messages
462
Points
12
same here!

I took a year off after undergrad, and applied to urban planning school this cycle, as it was always what I wanted to do. .
I'm the same way! Graduated last spring, did an internship, went abroad, and now I'm back applying to anything and everything I can get my hands on lol. Glad to know someone is on the same boat as me.

PS - Congratulations on being in the first round of admitted students to Penn! I'm still waiting to hear back, guess I'm in the March 14th batch. Is it true that their Open House is on April 8th?
 

myh5015

Cyburbian
Messages
43
Points
2
The financial aid packages were posted today. How does everyone feel about their packages?
 

tanpard

Member
Messages
16
Points
1
I did not get very much (under $10K in grants for the year) which still leaves me with over $35K in loans.

I'll be declining Penn -- I think it's a great school and enjoyed my visit there, but there are other expensive private schools I'd rather pay that amount of money for. Hopefully this means they'll let in someone off the waitlist who can go!
 

rdr06001

Cyburbian
Messages
25
Points
2
We've all been a bit shy posting our awards, so I'll try and break the ice. They offered me around a 1/3 scholarship, which was a pleasant surprise. I have no idea what they've offered in previous years, but it seems generous.

I've been wondering if anyone was able to get some additional funding out of Penn. I'd really love to attend, but even with the funding I'm looking at around 100k of debt in total. I have much better offers from a few solid schools. I'm still going to attempt to negotiate, but I was hoping to gauge what I might be able to realistically get by others' experiences.
 

cindabyte

Member
Messages
7
Points
0
I got my Penn funding and was disappointed that I will be in a lot of debt going into grad school. Who would I reach out to ask for more funding?
 

myh5015

Cyburbian
Messages
43
Points
2
Funding

I did get some aid but as another person posted, it would leave me with about 100k in debt. IMO, it is way too much for a planning degree. I've gotten into other prestigious programs that have given aid and have opportunities to even get free tuition, stipend and health benefits. I'm attending the open house but it is unlikely for me to go to Penn.
 

rdr06001

Cyburbian
Messages
25
Points
2
Has anyone emailed Prof. Landis? I emailed him almost a week ago and haven't heard back. Frankly, it's not a very encouraging sign. Every other director I've emailed has responded within a day or two.
 

rdr06001

Cyburbian
Messages
25
Points
2
I'd also be interested to hear what people thought. I was very interested in Penn early on, but my interest dwindled after an email to Prof. Landis went unanswered. In the end I chose not to attend the open house, but I'm still curious to hear some of your impressions.
 
Messages
12
Points
1
I'd also be interested to hear what people thought. I was very interested in Penn early on, but my interest dwindled after an email to Prof. Landis went unanswered. In the end I chose not to attend the open house, but I'm still curious to hear some of your impressions.
With all due respect, I must ask if your interest in UPenn really dwindled just because you failed to get a response from a Professor on an email. Isn't he the chair of the program? Most professors have a ton on their plate, and sometimes it is just necessary to send followup emails. That's been the case with plenty of professors at different schools I was interested in. I understand why you might see a lack of response as an indication of other deterring factors about faculty responsiveness in general, but I would hope this isn't just because of one unanswered email. Did you followup?
 

ODL

Member
Messages
1
Points
0
Penn Open House

I went to the Penn open house Monday and came away with some very mixed opinions. On the one hand, it does seem to be a very good and well-regarded program. Their curriculum had a very international focus, which was surprising, though I don't know if I see that as good or bad. There did seem to me to be a slight bent towards academia as opposed to practicality, some of the studio projects seeming to be more for the sake of thought experiment than actually producing a project. Of course, the campus was beautiful and was in a cool part of the city, etc., etc.

My primary, and most conflicted, takeaways came from my interactions with faculty. I spoke with several faculty members, most of whom I found to be earnest, engaging, helpful, and fully aware of the difficulty of the choice at hand for many – if not all – of the prospective students there, especially with regards to finances. The exception to this would be the department chair Dr. Landis, who I feel could most succinctly be summed up as a schmuck. Me and another student I met spoke with him personally during his offices hours, and the other student asked (more tactfully than I would have) about the added value of the Penn program/degree, i.e., what makes it worth $40000 more than elsewhere. Dr. Landis responded by saying that "Penn will make you into a planner, those other schools [Rutgers, Michigan, U Wash, Berkeley – not chopped liver] won't." I found his answer to be a remarkably conceited version of the "We're Penn, we're an Ivy" response. It bothered me that he was so willing to place the agency for learning and professional development with the school, not the student, as if I'm just some guy who needs Penn. Maybe I am just some guy, but both the other prospie and I were insulted by Dr. Landis' willingness to openly and directly disparage other universities that we were considering.

Subsequently, Dr. Landis proceeded to offer both of us an additional yearly $3000 of grant funding, above the programs explicitly stated cap of $5000. This money was reserved "only for the students that ask for it," and the offer was only good "on the condition that it would guarantee our enrollment." I don't mean to sniff at $3000 per year, which is nice, but I found the offer to be rather petty given that the school estimated the overall cost of attending Penn for a year at $65,000-70,000. His suggestion that less than 1/20 of that value would sway my opinion is ridiculous. It also bothered me that he would complain both in his morning presentation and in our personal meeting that he didn't have enough money to give to students, but would then stash some cash away for those who happened to meet with him and ask for it. I didn't like his financial sleight of hand as a recruiting tactic, it almost trivialized the very real concerns I have about the cost of Penn. I think I'll ask him for $15,000 per year. The money seems to be there.

Despite all that negativity above, I am still considering Penn and may very well choose to enroll, which I understand must seem rather silly and contradictory given what I wrote above. But I think that it also reflects the fact that there is quite a lot I do like about Penn and the city and region around it. I was impressed with the faculty I would expect to work with the most. I don't necessarily want to let one bad apple ruin the bunch, even if that apple is the department chair. And I do think that there's some truth behind the value of Ivy League name recognition, and that Penn has individual strengths of its own as well. I just don't know if those are worth $40,000 to me.

I would also be very interested in reading how other people felt about the open house, and if others shared my take on the matter, or came away with a very different opinion.
 
Last edited:

rdr06001

Cyburbian
Messages
25
Points
2
With all due respect, I must ask if your interest in UPenn really dwindled just because you failed to get a response from a Professor on an email. Isn't he the chair of the program? Most professors have a ton on their plate, and sometimes it is just necessary to send followup emails. That's been the case with plenty of professors at different schools I was interested in. I understand why you might see a lack of response as an indication of other deterring factors about faculty responsiveness in general, but I would hope this isn't just because of one unanswered email. Did you followup?
Yes, that was certainly a factor in my interest dwindling. Look, I don't care if its Penn or Eastern New England Community College (hopefully not real), you should respond to my email. It doesn't need to be right away or even within a few days, but I should get a response. At this point in the process, I am the customer and these schools are offering a service for which I'm expected to pay tens of thousands of dollars. If the customer service is lousy its going to turn me off. Every other program director I emailed to ask for additional funding got right back to me, even to say no. From everything I've read on these boards, "webchats" I've attended with the administration, and Penn grads I've talked to, Penn seems to think we should be falling over ourselves to pay an absurd price for their program because they're an Ivy League school. If other people want to do that then that's their business, but I'm not interested.

And judging from the previous post, it doesn't look like my appraisal was too far off.
 

myh5015

Cyburbian
Messages
43
Points
2
Yes, that was certainly a factor in my interest dwindling. Look, I don't care if its Penn or Eastern New England Community College (hopefully not real), you should respond to my email. It doesn't need to be right away or even within a few days, but I should get a response. At this point in the process, I am the customer and these schools are offering a service for which I'm expected to pay tens of thousands of dollars. If the customer service is lousy its going to turn me off. Every other program director I emailed to ask for additional funding got right back to me, even to say no. From everything I've read on these boards, "webchats" I've attended with the administration, and Penn grads I've talked to, Penn seems to think we should be falling over ourselves to pay an absurd price for their program because they're an Ivy League school. If other people want to do that then that's their business, but I'm not interested.

And judging from the previous post, it doesn't look like my appraisal was too far off.
I have to agree. I've had almost immediate responses from chairs at other schools. I don't think never responding to e-mails is a strong excuse. You're also looking at it from multiple perspectives, not making a judgement over one missed e-mail. You have a valid point.
 

myh5015

Cyburbian
Messages
43
Points
2
I went to the Penn open house Monday and came away with some very mixed opinions. On the one hand, it does seem to be a very good and well-regarded program. Their curriculum had a very international focus, which was surprising, though I don't know if I see that as good or bad. There did seem to me to be a slight bent towards academia as opposed to practicality, some of the studio projects seeming to be more for the sake of thought experiment than actually producing a project. Of course, the campus was beautiful and was in a cool part of the city, etc., etc.

My primary, and most conflicted, takeaways came from my interactions with faculty. I spoke with several faculty members, most of whom I found to be earnest, engaging, helpful, and fully aware of the difficulty of the choice at hand for many – if not all – of the prospective students there, especially with regards to finances. The exception to this would be the department chair Dr. Landis, who I feel could most succinctly be summed up as a schmuck. Me and another student I met spoke with him personally during his offices hours, and the other student asked (more tactfully than I would have) about the added value of the Penn program/degree, i.e., what makes it worth $40000 more than elsewhere. Dr. Landis responded by saying that "Penn will make you into a planner, those other schools [Rutgers, Michigan, U Wash, Berkeley – not chopped liver] won't." I found his answer to be a remarkably conceited version of the "We're Penn, we're an Ivy" response. It bothered me that he was so willing to place the agency for learning and professional development with the school, not the student, as if I'm just some guy who needs Penn. Maybe I am just some guy, but both the other prospie and I were insulted by Dr. Landis' willingness to openly and directly disparage other universities that we were considering.

Subsequently, Dr. Landis proceeded to offer both of us an additional yearly $3000 of grant funding, above the programs explicitly stated cap of $5000. This money was reserved "only for the students that ask for it," and the offer was only good "on the condition that it would guarantee our enrollment." I don't mean to sniff at $3000 per year, which is nice, but I found the offer to be rather petty given that the school estimated the overall cost of attending Penn for a year at $65,000-70,000. His suggestion that less than 1/20 of that value would sway my opinion is ridiculous. It also bothered me that he would complain both in his morning presentation and in our personal meeting that he didn't have enough money to give to students, but would then stash some cash away for those who happened to meet with him and ask for it. I didn't like his financial sleight of hand as a recruiting tactic, it almost trivialized the very real concerns I have about the cost of Penn. I think I'll ask him for $15,000 per year. The money seems to be there.

Despite all that negativity above, I am still considering Penn and may very well choose to enroll, which I understand must seem rather silly and contradictory given what I wrote above. But I think that it also reflects the fact that there is quite a lot I do like about Penn and the city and region around it. I was impressed with the faculty I would expect to work with the most. I don't necessarily want to let one bad apple ruin the bunch, even if that apple is the department chair. And I do think that there's some truth behind the value of Ivy League name recognition, and that Penn has individual strengths of its own as well. I just don't know if those are worth $40,000 to me.

I would also be very interested in reading how other people felt about the open house, and if others shared my take on the matter, or came away with a very different opinion.

I was actually the other prospect in that meeting with you. The words that stuck with me from the conversation was that "Michigan and Rutgers isn't even in the same league" and that he "was a chair at Berkeley and we're better than them." When I asked him the question as to why Penn's premium is worth the cost versus other schools that are offering significant funding, I expected a clear list of strengths that he could point to rather than start of dismissing other programs in the way that he did. I felt like he was pulling the "Ivy card" as his answer to the premium. It is reasonable to say that most admitted students understand the ivy part, it is more productive and beneficial to see more clear, concise strengths beyond the ivy. While I take rankings with a grain of salt, Rutgers is ranked 3rd on the Planetizen's rankings. there is a hard to dismiss gap. Michigan and Harvard is right below Penn. It is an exaggeration to say that they are not even in the same league.

I agree, there was a noticeable focus on international development. It seemed that the program's belief is that the future of urban planning will be larger internationally than domestically. I've heard that Penn tends to send a lot of students overseas to China. The urban design professor seemed to harp on Asian and African development over domestic development. I don't mind that but would've liked more domestic development, especially since our nation is facing challenges as well. Their take on career services seemed lacking in comparison to schools like Rutgers where they seemed to be willing to move mountains to connect you with employers and work with you closely to tailor your resume and skills to land your dream job. Penn's philosophy was "we don't place you, that is your job." When I heard that, it almost sounded like just desiring some sort of career services support was a reflection on your work ethic. While I don't think that was their intent, it certainly came off that way. I am very capable of applying to jobs but just as anyone making a career transition, it isn't unusual to want some help in that department. But with that said, it seemed most students found internships fairly easily. Penn has a grip on planning jobs in Philly. It is a great location if anyone desires to work in the northeast along the coast. The campus was gorgeous, the city is great and the students overall seemed down to earth.

There was little to no mention of social justice and I believe that speaks to the graduates the program tends to produce. Perhaps there is influence from Wharton. There was a noticeable bent towards private sector employment. I personally also believe this may have to do with higher paying jobs and the need for it since the program costs so much. If I chose to enroll at Penn, I certainly would need a specific level of income to sustain my debt and would definitely limit me from taking certain jobs.

Overall, I came away with mixed feelings. Their faculty is impressive and their curriculum seems solid. I plan to dig deeper and compare their curriculum to those at other schools I am considering. However, it is hard for me to swallow the significant cost of the program for a planning job. Perhaps if I had no undergraduate debt, it would be a different story. I also came away from another open house much more inspired than Penn's open house. When my other schools each more than doubled their funding to compete for me, it certainly feels good to be wanted. It will be a very hard decision. I've also read in the forums from experienced planners to definitely factor in the cost of the program, this isn't a profession that produces 6-figure salaries, at least not as quickly as other fields. While the "ivy card" bit was a bit much, I understand there is some truth. There is also the lesser important ticket into the ivy club, which may or may not be beneficial on the graduate level or even in the planning profession.

I plan to speak to a faculty member at Penn to get more perspective before I make a decision. We'll see how that goes. I would love to hear thoughts from others who attended as well.
 
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I have to agree. I've had almost immediate responses from chairs at other schools. I don't think never responding to e-mails is a strong excuse. You're also looking at it from multiple perspectives, not making a judgement over one missed e-mail. You have a valid point.
Given everything else stated above then that makes more sense.
 
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