It’s official: I will be attending the University of Minnesota in the fall!
I have to say that I am actually excited about this. Three weeks ago, I was completely 50/50. I had no idea which school I was going to choose, and UCSD was still hanging out in the back of my mind. I made so many NYU v UMN Pro/Con charts, and all of them were so unfortunately balanced. However, I spoke with two of my professors, my parents, my friends, and my advisor, and my psychology professor in particular said a few things that really pushed me toward UMN.
What you have to understand about my psyc professor is that in her class, every single one of our assignments is about our own goals and ourselves. Therefore, she gets to know all of her students on a really (really really) personal level, and she is able to understand my values how I think about things. I absolutely love her class (The Psychology of Self-Development), and I will definitely use every single thing I learn there to make myself a better person. After a lot of talking about my struggle with the college decision, she said two things that really made sense to me. I had thought about this so much, that to finally hear NEW points and ideas from someone who really knows me was refreshing.
The first thing that she said to me is that I must not let my ego get in the way of making the right decision. Basically, putting “NYU Class of 2016!” on Facebook is a lot more impressive than putting “University of Minnesota Class of 2016!”…and that should not determine what school I choose. I was admitted to both, and that is something to be proud of. The prestige behind the name of NYU and the “cool factor” of living in NYC are not going to ever help me achieve any success in life. If anything, they will hinder my success by blowing up my self-image way beyond any boundary of reason, and furthering whatever ego complex I have already began to develop. NYU is the only “name” school that I was accepted to, and to be honest, I had very little interest in attending before I was accepted. I really don’t know how convincing my “why do you want to attend NYU” essay could have been because I knew nothing about the school. But because it is the most prestigious school that I was accepted to, quite a few people automatically assumed that that’s where I should/would go. Then I began to think that maybe, ego aside, NYU was the better choice because of how it will look on my resume, and how it will affect my acceptances to grad school.
Then my psychology professor said something else to me. She basically said that when I think of NYU, I see flashy lights and glitter and awesomeness [she used my favorite word here], and when I think of UMN, I see something less exciting. (And she was right.) She said to remember that no school can define my success- only I can do that, and that I have my own flashy lights and glitter and awesomeness that will help me throughout my career, and I don’t need a brand name institution to provide that sparkle for me. She also mentioned that she knows how much more impacted by my environment I am than many students, so just to make sure that I am not picking a school because of the name or the prestige, but because it is what school will make me happy for the reasons that I value. Seriously- I love this woman.
After thinking a lot about what she said, I was kind of able to remove my self-image from the equation, and I realized that I was sure that the U of M was where I would be more successful- academically, socially, and emotionally. They take care of their students in a ways that do not benefit them as an institution at all (other than making students want to attend), and I admire that so, so much. Just being good to people for the sake of being good- that’s where it’s at, folks.
I had definitely moved the scale to probably 75-25. Living in Greenwich Village was still incredibly appealing, NYU may have actually offered me an amazing education, and my ego still existed. All I had left to affect my decision was NYU’s Accepted Students Day: Weekend On The Square (that name is kind of ironic now that I think about it, but let’s move on…). I actually wanted NYU to freaking sweep me off my feet and make me demand that my parents lay out $60,000 every year so I could have the time of my life in a violet tshirt. I wanted to finally understand why NYU was such a name, and why everyone knew how amazing it was. Because I didn’t…I mean, I didn’t know why everyone (including myself) was so impressed with the institution, and I wanted to find out.
Yesterday, my mom and I went to the Weekend On The Square. And I was so, so disappointed for a few reasons.
1) Every single person that spoke to us in person and in the little films was a douche bag. Seriously. Every single person thought that they were the shit. I mean, I think I am the shit, but I am well aware that not very many other people think so, and I don’t try to convince other people of this. NYU assumes that everyone wants them, and that the ball is in their court. Examples:
1 When the president of my program spoke to all 900 of us, he told us the 10 reasons that you should NOT go to NYU. I was expecting cute little things like “If you want a mediocre education, do not go to NYU,” or “If you enjoy living in a boring suburb where nothing is happening, do no attend NYU.” But, no. They were actual reasons that he thought would drive people away from NYU. I mean, none of them really applied to me, but still. It’s like saying “We are up here. You are down here. Some of you should not be up here with us because you are not worthy of our coolness.” It was like he expected everyone who was there to just be dazzled by the shiny lights and dying to attend NYU, and he was saying “well, we know that you would absolutely love to go here, but we don’t think all of you should, even though we admitted you.” Douche bag #1.
2 When one of the alumni spoke, well…firstly, he was an absolutely horrible public speaker. He was some kind of musician, and he completely thought he was the coolest thing ever. Like I said, I think I’m pretty cool. But I know that lots of people don’t agree with me, and I don’t expect them to. It was like this guy expected us to be drooling over his coolness, and I really wanted him to just leave. He also said something like, “At NYU, academics and being cool are not at odds with one another.” Well, no shit. Because obviously you have to be pretty smart to get in here, and pretty much everyone is really concerned with being cool. I don’t know. I really, really didn’t like this guy. Douche bag #2
2) Everything took forever. Seriously. I know this shouldn’t make that much of a difference, but NYU is kind of known for its long lines and red tape, and experiencing that on admitted students day was a little frightening. I think the first presentation was supposed to begin at 9:15, and it didn’t begin until 10. Then it took them 45 minutes to figure out how to move all 900 of us like 2 blocks without killing us. Just a little disheartening is all, I guess.
3) Literally, the only thing they kept talking about is how great it is to live in NYC. They didn’t say anything about any kinds of internships or research opportunities, but everything was “in and of the City of New York.” If I just wanted to go to school in Manhattan, I would to to Fordham U at Lincoln Center where I got a $20,000/year scholarship, or CUNY Baruch or something. Living in NYC would be nice, but I have the rest of my life to do that. What I don’t have the rest of my life to do is to have a good college experience, enriched with academic and professional opportunities that you did not once mention.
4) The president kept stressing how great it is that everyone has to take the same exact 12 courses, and that you don’t just choose random classes to fulfill requirements. I like random classes to fulfill requirements. I can pick what kinds of things that I want to learn about, and that’s really cool to me. I don’t really understand what is so great about standardizing all of your students’ education. He said that it was great because you “really learned how to think” through the core classes, but I am pretty sure that any good professor will teach me how to think, and that I don’t need a specific set of courses to do that for me.
5) This was definitely one of the biggest disappointments: I felt really uncomfortable. Yes, living in Greenwich Village would be amazing, but I felt true discomfort during the second presentation. I completely felt like I didn’t belong there, I didn’t belong with any of those people. It’s not that I didn’t belong with that kind of campus, or in NYC in general, but that those kinds of people were not the kind of person that I want to become. Everyone seemed like they were trying to out-do one another, and that’s not what I’m about. I don’t think that’s what anyone should be about, but that’s another story. It was not the kind of academic environment that I will thrive in. And yeah, yeah…there are definitely people like me in the freshman class. There are, and I know that not every single student there is a pretentious snot. There are probably really cool kids in the mix who I’d get along with, but they certainly do not compose the majority. And at Minnesota, every single person that I talked to seemed so cool and so genuine, and it was really refreshing.
There are a few people in my life that whenever I am around them, I try to be the best version of myself. I feel like at NYU, I would not be the best version of myself. I feel like that kind of environment would seriously draw out my flaws, and I don’t want that. I want to be around people who make me better, not people who will bring out the more aggressive, pretentious, bitchy, judgmental parts of me, because they definitely do exist. I want to be around people who will encourage the assertive, humble, kind, and universally awesome parts of me to thrive, and I will find that at the U of M. I found that at the U of M.
I will be completely honest with you guys- I cried like a baby when I got home after not liking NYU. My ego wanted me to love it SO badly. My self-image wanted me to find real reasons to love NYU and to justify begging my parents to lay out enough money for several really nice cars. So, when I felt that discomfort while I sat in the gym of NYU, after seeing an impressive light show, some amazing performances, and some motivating short films, my ego was crying because I knew I would never attend this university. I actually got a little choked up and began to freak out a little bit when everyone was speaking. I felt really afraid, like I was going to make the wrong decision for emotional reasons, but then I realized that it wasn’t a decision based on emotion that I was experiencing, rather an emotional reaction to the inevitable decision that I should not, could not, and would not attend this glittery university. My mother and I were leaving the gym, violet tshirt in hand, and she asked me where to next. I told her that we could go to lunch, and I wanted to go to Lush. Then I smiled a very sad smile and told her that we didn’t have to go on the tour because I had made my decision, and the University of Minnesota would have one awesome student in their class of 2016. She gave me a hug and smiled and asked me if I was sure, and I was. I was so, so sure, but my ego and my self-image were a little sad.
We went to lunch at Chipotle (of freakin course) and walked around Greenwich Village in the beautiful 80 degree weather, did some shopping at Lush, and took a little walk through the park. I kept having little pangs of “Wait a second…” and “Maybe we should go on the tour…,” but I kept reminding myself of how uncomfortable and out of place I felt in that auditorium, and how much I will thrive at the U of M. We drove home, and I ran up stairs to my laptop and confirmed my enrollment at the U. I then began talking to my father, and I started crying. I felt a strange mix of proud, disappointed, excited, and sad. I was proud because I knew that I was doing the right thing, and I knew that for me this was a more difficult decision than for many. I was disappointed because I wanted to know what there was behind the name of NYU, and I just didn’t see anything. My father said something along the lines of, “NYU is like a really smokin hot woman who appears to be perfect, but is really just a hollow bitch.” I thought it was funny that he put it that way, but it was true. I was excited, though, because I genuinely am relieved that the college process is over, and I am definitely looking forward to attending the U this fall. But, I was still a little sad because I had bruised my own ego, and told it to just shut up and let me do the talking. Finally.
So, I cried. And a little part of me was uber pissed at BU for not admitting me to their school even though I was extremely well-qualified and that it was the perfect school for me, but then I kept thinking about how I know, I absolutely know with the utmost certainty, that I made the right decision and that I will be happy at the University of Minnesota. So, folks. There it is. My college search, application, admission, and decision process is complete, and I am genuinely happy about how well everything turned out.