It’s the middle of summer and few people are thinking about the return to school. However, in the coming month or two new students will need to start interacting with their faculty adviser. The following tips can help make it a productive relationship.
Professor Lance Freeman's recent post about Planetizen's rankings of graduate planning programs does an excellent job of summarizing some of the thorniest problems with school rankings. The editors of Planetizen certainly agree with Professor Freeman when he states that rankings cannot accurately predict whether a particular program will provide a particular student with the type of education he or she would deem best. There are far too many individual factors involved, and any student who makes their decision primarily on the basis of such rankings would be doing themselves a great disservice. This point is also the reason why most of the 142 pages of the 2007 Planetizen Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs consist of detailed profiles of programs -- not rankings.
However, we continue to believe, as Professor Freeman also acknowledges, that rankings do provide a useful measure of comparison for students who are evaluating a graduate program of study in planning -- something that is likely to be the largest single investment in their educational career. Therefore, we are planning to publish a new edition of the Planetizen Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs in the spring. In addition, we're working to improve our rankings process to help address some the concerns that Professor Freeman and others have raised.
For those admitted to graduate planning programs in the U.S., March is the season of choices and decisions. Offers appear. Decision deadlines approach. Wait lists are formed. Even those who thought they knew what they wanted may be tempted to change their minds. Having been affiliated with seven vastly different planning programs, and having worked both as a faculty member and practitioner, I can attest that the choices aren’t simple.