Recap on Two Years of Advice

Ann Forsyth's picture

Two years ago the Planetizen editors asked me to contribute a monthly blog posting. The first one appeared in February 2007 and I have managed to submit posts monthly for two years. In accepting the assignment, I decided that I needed to have an angle. I write, teach, and practice about the substance of planning so I decided to do something else-provide advice for students on how to enter and succeed in planning programs. Martin Krieger at USC already provided a terrific advice column for doctoral students so I decided to focus on students in professional planning programs.

The following paragraphs list many of my earlier posts clustering them into themes. Topics include:

I'll continue my advice column next week with advice on picking a first job.

Ann Forsyth is professor of Urban Planning at Harvard University.



More Advice for New Planning Students

Professor Forsyth,
Your series of articles for beginning students starting a planning education is wonderful. Here's three more things I learned over the years are both student and teacher.

1. Diversity Helps - To get into some graduate schools, faculty seek students from a wide variety of different locations, backgrounds and experiences to enrich their programs. If you are the only one from Alaska and applying to a school in Florida - this might be to your advantage.

2. The Spectrum is Wide - In relative terms, the Planning profession is relatively new. According to the Department of Labor 2008,
there are only 34,000 Urban and Regional Planners in US and 68% work for the government. Incoming students need to learn the basics, but after that they can make their own way and should follow some creative and uncharted paths within the program to expand the bandwidth of the profession.

3. Skip Out - No need to choose between a business education or a planning education to change the world. Once you are accepted, immerse yourself in different schools within the University that interest you. Treat the Planning Department as home plate, but make sure to run around the whole infield. The world is very complex and interdisciplinary. Learning in just 'one silo' will set you back.

Rick Abelson,
Online Land Planning,LLC

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