Friday, August 13, 2010
When it comes down to the ultimate decision making time, after you've received that marvelous purple postcard bearing the word congratulations! And weighing between other universities, priorities, dreams versus the obligations of reality, how to decide if NYU is really and truly worth all its weight in appearance...the decision is obviously, always, yours, and personal circumstances might play a far greater role than any stranger's description of the NYU student who would thrive, but, from my understanding:
Don’t come to NYU for a liberal arts degree if it means getting into tens of thousands of dollars of debt. NYU’s prestige isn’t really going to get you a job (experience, professionalism, and relentless drive will). The NYU experience, while, no doubt, unique, is likely not worth the years of regret and tears and poverty you’ll have afterwards. Also, don’t come if you are not (and don’t think you could be) independent, or have always fantasized about college frat parties and any sense of community. There is no sense of community save one of general cynicism and mild resentment. Without independence, you simply cannot survive here.
Why should you come to NYU, then? If, you’re one of those people who grew up hating your hometown, if you’ve always wanted to live and experience every aspect of the city, if you’re not afraid of obstacles, hard work, competition, if you’re desperate for excitement, if you can make concessions for life’s comforts for a life of unpredictable surprises, if you want experiences like nothing you’ve had before, if you’re not afraid to be embarrassed and learn silly new things, if you’re not afraid of disappointment, of shattered hopes and dreams, if you’re willing to give up almost anything for the opportunity that only New York City offers: then, come to NYU, because it will be a center of countless opportunities you haven’t even imagined before, it will be diverse adventures and meeting people you can’t believe exist. It will be what you make of it, what you force it to be, it’s a lover who needs to be tamed, who needs an equally strong match. If you’re not afraid of being alone (and it won’t be forever), if, even while reading all of this, the harsh reality and exaggerated nature of the university, you still feel the fire burning your insides screaming that you belong, then it’s not a matter of the quality of your department or the quality of living.
What NYU, really, truly offers, is outside of the university itself. Yes, you might get a few life changing professors. Yes, you might meet classmates who will alter your perception of the world forever. But ultimately, you will learn to live alone, to be a New Yorker, learn the taste of blissful success (even in small moments) and the bitterness of failure, unforgiving, cold, failure. You’ll learn how to live, and hardly how to live in a college, but in the world. You’ll learn much about humanity--suffering, kindness, and just inexplicable acts of humanity. Don’t expect NYU to be your magic ticket to anything. Expect to work for what you want, and hard, and expect for it to hurt, and to cry and hate everything you might have done. But in the end it’s a university that is rewarding in its freedom, its loose hold that lets you step off the pavement in stiletto heels, bruised bloody knees and a broken ankle, and lets you struggle with tear brimmed eyes until you can walk again (albeit, with a significant higher doss of New York irony and disenchantment with all that the city offers).