When I look back to why I chose UVA over UPenn, the cost of living at Charlottesville v. Philadelphia, not Public Ivy v. Ivy League, proved to be the determining factor given finances. Although Charlottesville’s small-town vibe didn’t reconcile well with the “urban” in Urban Planning, and UVA did not play to my love of physical design (focusing more on the sociological aspects of planning that I, well, now believe to be closer to the core principles of planning), it was an enriching ride.
So, as some of you may be deciding on which offer letter to accept this fall, here is a little advice – focus on the one you really want and everything else might just fall in place.
PS: Compared to UPenn, UVA has smaller graduate programs and endowments. And it feeds the Washington DC metro’s job market. UPenn, on the other hand, feeds the New York metropolitan region. So spare a thought to where you would like to spend, or at least start, your professional career. A note for foreign students – UVA has a good number of, for lack of a better word, “southern aristocracy” flocking to its classes, while UPenn has a larger international student population. So stay north of the Mason-Dixon line, if you have a choice.
* USATODAY – ‘Mr. Jefferson would be proud’: Charlottesville is No. 1
* Rural Clusters and Relative Rurality:
COUNTY ST | PER CAPITA INCOME [PCI] | RELATIVE RURALITY | HOW FAR WOULD PCI GO?  *
Albemarle VA | $37,638 | 0.358 | $13,474.40
Philadelphia PA | $29,755 | 0.037 | $1,100.935
* Roughly, the higher the Relative Rurality, the further the dollar would go
Cities Ranked & Rated: ‘The Ten Best Places to Live ’ and ‘2005 Best Places to Live’
RANK | METRO AREA
1 | Charlottesville VA
76 | Philadelphia PA-NJ
* Frost, Robert. The Road Not Taken. http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15717
* Ways to give