Blog 54: My Top All-Time Blog Posts on Planning Education

Ann Forsyth's picture

When the Planetizen team set up the Interchange blog section in early 2007 they invited half a dozen academics, and dozens of others, to blog. This is my 54th entry in that (monthly) series. I'm about to start dealing with some new topics--like big ideas in planning--but thought I should do a little research to see which of my past blogs people have been reading.

As I've described earlier, I needed an angle that didn't compete with other blogs my own scholarly publications, topical web site, and blog. So I decided to use the blog to answer questions students ask, and deal with problems they face. I have aimed it at undergraduate and masters students because Martin Kreiger does a great job for doctoral students. On balance the time it takes to write these entries I save later on--it makes advising sessions with my own students more focused.

The Planetizen staff have been surprisingly hands off. I've never had them comment on a blog. When I asked for statistics on my entries so I could see what people were reading they were helpful in providing the figures, but they had to run the numbers as they didn't have them routinely to hand.

So what are people reading? Unsurprisingly the top all time blogs reflect interest in deciding whether to be a planner, getting into graduate school, doing well in school (time management, theses, finding images), and getting a job. Views range from over 6,000 to over 10,000.  

Top 10 Blog Entries by Total Views

1. Applying to Graduate School in Planning: Writing a Good Statement of Purpose
2. Skills in Planning: The Planning Portfolio
3. Graduate School 2008: Nuts and Bolts of Applying
4. Deciding if You Want to be a Planner
5. Images for Planning: Free Internet Resources
6. Skills in Planning: The Time vs. Quality Opportunity Curve
7. Getting Started on an Exit Project or Thesis in Planning
8. Tips on Gainful Unemployment for New Planners
9. Finding a First Job in Planning
10. Common Problems with Proposals for the Exit Project or Thesis in Planning 

Two others almost made this list, and are not on any of those below.  Defining the Planning Skill Set: Resources for Students and Truly Great Teachers: Remembering Peter Marris both deal in different ways with the important planning skills of communicating, understanding needs, being responsible, having political savvy, and engaging with important issues. 

Of course some of these entries are four years old, giving plenty of time to accumulate "views," so I thought I'd look at views per month. These have a different bias--toward recent blogs--because a lot of blog views are in the first month or so. On average each of the 54 blogs has been viewed over 260 times per month, every month it has been up. Of course in the first month entries may be viewed some thousands of times and viewing drops off after that. Only one--writing a good statement of purpose--is in the top of both total views and views per month. However a couple--whether to do a PhD and one on planning history--are in the top 20 total views as well as making the list of many views per month. 

 Top 10 Blog Entries by Views per Month

1. I've Graduated, Now What?
2. Obtaining Letters of Reference for Graduate School in Planning
3. Should I do a PhD in Planning? (top 20 total views)
4. Summer Conferences with an Agenda: Ideas for Students and Others
5. Managing Time in Graduate School
6. Internet Presence for Job Candidates  
Applying to Graduate School in Planning: Writing a Good Statement of Purpose (top 10 total views)
8. Planning History: A Few of the Late 19th and 20th Century Places you Should Know (top 20 total views)
9. Planning History: A Few of the City and Metropolitan Plans You Should Know
10. Planning Processes: Some Resources  

In addition to the entries in the lists above I also refer students to some other posts--and I limited myself to 10, not in any particular order.

 My Additional 10

This blog entry evokes the name of one of my favorite web sites, about train travel:

Ann Forsyth is professor of Urban Planning at Harvard University.



Planning students should understand real estate development

After working for 7 years developing demonstration projects to uncover barriers and find new ways of developing affordable housing, I returned to graduate school. I had felt like I was beating my head against a brick wall when I worked with planners in the jurisdictions that were begging for affordable housing. The planners and the plans/codes were one of the biggest hurdles to creating basic, affordable housing.
Working my way through a Master of Urban Planning program, it was interesting to find out that most of the other planning students had no interest in learning about real estate. It was like an evil topic that they didn't want to come in contact with.
But real estate development is where the rubber hits the road...where and how any planner's ideas/plans become physical reality. Understanding real estate development is only logical. It's like an Architect with no understanding of structure or the construction process.
Perhaps if our planners had a better understanding of real estate development, they would be less likely to view all developers as bad guys and more equipped to get what the community needs out of new development.

Understanding real estate development

"Understanding real estate development..." ought to be a requirement for obtaining any university degree in planning. Any planner who doesn't simply doesn't possess the proper tools to be an effective planner.


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