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As the 2016 admission season winds down thoughts turn to the 2017 application process. For students wanting to go to planning school in the fall of 2017 the process can take nearly a year—investigating programs, compiling applications, waiting for admission decisions, choosing the best offer, and preparing for program. Why would you want to do this? There are several good reasons to go to graduate school, and a few that may cause problems later.
These are good reasons and the structure of planning programs is meant to help answer questions and foster understanding of the field and its context. Having a cohort of peers to do this with can being a variety of perspectives and also create a network to draw on over the years.
There are other reasons people contemplate going to graduate school, as well. When the job market is difficult applications go up. People applying before they graduate from their undergraduate program may see graduate school as more familiar than the work world. Still others are working and see the need for a credential to confirm their existing skills. For those looking for credentials, statements of purpose may sound like job letters where the applicant already knows everything about planning.
These are not impossible reasons to go to planning school, though if admitted such students are likely to be less satisfied with the experience. These are the ones who may question why they are studying and not maximize the value they might get if fully ready. Part of the role of admissions committees is to try to make sure—from statements of purpose, resumes, and letters of reference—that applicants really are at a stage where they are eager to engage with important issues. Overall, having good reasons for contemplating grad school is a productive place to start.
Over the years, I have provided substantial advice about various phases of the admissions process. Many topics are linked to the bullets on the top of this page.