Graduate School

I write this as I enjoy watching the singular expressions on the faces of Nancy Pelosi and Dick Cheney as they sit behind George W. Bush delivering the State of the Union.

(Methinks the Senator from Iowa loves the Corn Fuel proposal a little too much...)

As of last week, my graduate applications are complete. I settled on Urban Planning as my desired area of study because it is a skill set that will complement my engineering abilities well, and because it will help me to make cities better places to live through practicing good design. Two of the schools would keep me here in Austin, and two would take me away. Listed below are the contenders, along with my reasons for applying and my gut feeling on my likelihood of attending. Advice would be greatly appreciated, and feel free to wager heavily, but only if you first drink heavily...

(Dikembe Mutombo? What the hell?)

Baylor - I applied for the Executive MBA program that Baylor offers in Austin, which I could complete in two years while still working at LCRA in my current job (which I love). It's a strong program that emphasizes entrepreneurship, and comes highly recommended from a former co-worker and friend I worked with last year. I hope to interview in the next couple of months, and feel I have a good chance of being accepted. At this point, this is the only MBA program under consideration. The only downside - the program is in North Austin, and I hate North Austin passionately...

- I wanted to apply for a school in the Midwest, and the University of Kansas is a great education value in a good city (Lawrence). Kansas has a good planning program that emphasizes practical experience and is strong in public policy. In fact, they have the #1 City Management school in the country, so I may pursue that as a double-major. On the downside, my dad told me that when he lived in nearby Topeka as a kid, it was unbearably cold in winter. Cars apparently don't start, and polar bears may very well run free. Unless global warming speeds up a bit, I am not sure I could handle it...

(Jim Webb was doing well until he implied that the workers in this country will revolt if they don't get a better deal. I agree that CEO's make too much, but we working folk aren't exactly waiting in soup lines these days, and all but 4.5% of us are employed...)

Oregon - Oregon’s planning program is one of the best in the country, and hard to get into - only 25 of 100+ applicants each year are accepted. As part of the curriculum, the students take part in paid internships where they do planning work with small Oregon communities as part of their education. The region possesses big mountains, towering trees, and spectacular dams, and it rains a lot so it's both an engineer's paradise and a huge change of pace from Austin. I think it's a long shot as whether I would get in, but if I'm accepted, I'll strongly consider going.

Texas - Suprise. Texas is strong in the Environmental and Natural Resources planning concentration, and I had a good informal interview with one of the professors in the fall of 2005 (Dr. Kent Butler, who once worked at LCRA). The scenario is similar to the one that led me to pick Texas over Rice as an undergrad - live in Austin, in-state tuition, and dynamite school with a good football team. The plan right now would be to attend school full-time, cut back to part-time at LCRA, and simplify my life a bit.

I would put the odds at better than 50/50 that I stay in Austin and go to either Baylor or Texas, but it's not a slam dunk - both Kansas and Oregon are terrific schools, and if one or both accept me, I'll have a tough decision to make. For now, I will simply wait to see who accepts me, and pray for guidance. In the meantime, Eric and I are going to Monterrey to see a Mexican soccer match that very well may end in a riot this weekend, and my next journey to Russia begins four weeks from today. A late February trip above the Arctic Circle is in order (and there, polar bears may really run free...) In between, I will host a musician from Finland and his son. It should be a good month.

Again, advice will be appreciated...


At 9:52 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Re: Baylor MBA



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