Lately I’ve been fielding a lot of questions about planning schools from prospective students curious as to how to choose a program, what to look for, what to expect, and all the other odds and ends that come with the decision. It’s not an easy one. The schools, departments, programs, concentrations and approaches taken can be very different depending on where you go.
For the purposes of this article, I’m not going to cover the basic “what should you look for in choosing a college” points. By now you’re well aware of the differences between in state and out of state tuition, developing good study habits, stay home or go elsewhere, etc. Additionally, much of what you may have considered in your hunt for an undergrad school will no longer be a factor, things like campus social life and sports will be pretty much a non-factor. This is about finding the program that is the best fit for you.
So let’s get started.
Arriving at the Planning School decision.
If you are at this stage, you likely have already decided to pursue Urban and Regional Planning as a career as well as potentially looked into other grad school options such as law school, public administration, or architecture. The first thing is to make sure this is something you really want to do. Planning students tend to enter the arena as overly idealistic with delusions of grandeur about saving cities and being able to cure all of society’s ills with the swinging might of Daniel Burnham or Robert Moses. Getting that to that point certainly can happen, but it’s not typical.
Not even close.