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USC vs. NYU--which would YOU pick?

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I am deciding between USC and NYU for urban planning.

My plan actually is to study law immediately after urban planning. Although I am not sure what kind of career path I will take with the two degrees, I am just too much interested in both fields and see the extra money and time of getting two degrees as absoutely worthwhile.

Having said that, I don't see myself working as a city planner in the future. I am more interested in the policy and the administrative aspect of urban development (hence the two urban planning programs that are part of schools of public policy/public service) and am also interested in real estate and economic development in the cities of Asian countries like China, Korea, and Malaysia (although I love European cities like London and Madrid very much too and would LOVE to work there one day).

Having grown up in So Cal, I always knew about USC's impressive alumni network ("the Trojan Family") and the excellent planning and real estate development programs it has. I guess USC has always been a familiar place. And for this very reason, I applied to NYU; I wanted to try the other greatest American city and experience something totally unlike Los Angeles-- take the subways instead of the freeways, live in a high-rise apartment rather than a ranch-style one, and wear black leather jacket with gloves and scarf instead of cut-off shorts with flip-flops and a t-shirt all the time. What is NYU's reputation like out there in the east coast? Does NYU's Wagner get overshadowed by Kennedy school or MIT?

Which school would you pick?
 
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I was also admitted to USC, but quite to the contrary of your situation, I'm from Boston. I'll be the first to tell you that New York and Los Angeles are almost identical, in the sense that they are both....cities in.....the U.S. But that's probably it. The way I look at graduate programs, I usually see a degree of overlap between the city and the graduate program, especially because these programs can be very involved in the city's planning process. From what I gathered on my visit to LA and USC is that LA has been and is planned with a large priority given to commercial development and accomodating their needs. If this is what you're into instead of the social dynamics that planning designs, than I'd say go to USC. Their network is pretty hard core, and they can probably open some serious doors for you. If you're looking to couple that degree with law LA sounds like a great place to do that, as I've heard about the high demand for that combination in LA in particularly.

New York will probably give you a much different education within a completely different environment. If I was coming from LA, I'd personally be blown away with New York. It's a pretty incredible place when looking at how the city functions and the diverse lives it accomodates. I don't know anything about the program it seems to me that the city that you study within is a huge part of the program. I've chosen to go to Portland (Or) because of the progressive and innovative ways they meet their challenges and plan for future growth. If you choose New York you WILL see aspects of life you'd be challenged to find in LA, and from an urban planning perspective (especially mine) these little things would put my education into context. Good luck though, and if you have any questions on USC I can give you the blunt attitude ingested perspective of a Bostonian. And if you want me to tell you that L.A. is not a city, I'll be happy to do that too!!!
 
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The question you should really be asking is where you want to live after graduation. You should absolutely go to a school in the area you are going to be working in, even if it might not be your first choice academically. I'd agree with alxwyt's characterization of the USC program, very much oriented towards the private-sector.

Also, if you go to planning school and THEN law school, you are wasting tens of thousands of dollars and a year of your life. Do a joint degree and be finished in four years rather than five. If your undergrad credentials are lacking, high marks in planning school will not really help you on law school applications, so there is no point in waiting. And forget about studying for the LSAT during planning school, you won't have time. Apply to a joint program.
 

Greenescapist

Cyburbian
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I'd go to NYU since I don't think LA would be a very fun place for a planner-type to live. Though, when I was looking at schools I noticed that USC did have a great program and have heard of someone who is happy there. Also, I think you can really go to school wherever you want, it doesn't seem to limit job opportunities from what I can tell.
 
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thanks peligro and greenescapist

peligro said:
The question you should really be asking is where you want to live after graduation. You should absolutely go to a school in the area you are going to be working in, even if it might not be your first choice academically. I'd agree with alxwyt's characterization of the USC program, very much oriented towards the private-sector.

Also, if you go to planning school and THEN law school, you are wasting tens of thousands of dollars and a year of your life. Do a joint degree and be finished in four years rather than five. If your undergrad credentials are lacking, high marks in planning school will not really help you on law school applications, so there is no point in waiting. And forget about studying for the LSAT during planning school, you won't have time. Apply to a joint program.
You know, actually I've been thinking-- or re-thinking-- much about my decision to go to USC (oh yeah, since I posted up the question, I had decided to go to USC). Going to a planning school and then law school does seem to be a lot of money. To be honest, I am even sure why I would need to get both degrees.

I really appreciated the advice from pleigro and greenescapist (alxwyt also, of course). Thank you all very much.
 
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Greenescapist said:
I'd go to NYU since I don't think LA would be a very fun place for a planner-type to live.
As a longtime LA resident I'd second that. LA is a great town in a lot of respects, but on just about any issue a planner would be interested in (transportation, housing, parks, environment, architecture) LA is really behind the curve. For a lot of reasons that I won't bore you with here, the city is basically ungovernable, and it really shows in terms of city planning. Having said that, as a planner, living in LA really gives you a good idea of what NOT to do!
 
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