I am SO going to Grad School.
Today, I headed out at noon to check out some grad schools. I visited Stevens Institute of Technology in Beautiful Downtown Hoboken then went across--actually under--the Hudson to drop in on an Open House hosted by NYU's School of Continuing and Professional Studies. My interest, of course, are their respective Construction Management programs. A while ago, I went down and spent a morning at Drexel University in Philadelphia. (In fact, my application to go there is pending.) I had also hoped to stop in on the New Jersey Institute of Technology, but I ran out of time.
(And I'm out of patience with dropping in links to the websites of all those schools. What's up with that? Like you couldn't find them in the unlikely event that you wanted to go there? Just mindlessly following blogging protocol, I guess.)
First off, there is no substitute for being there.
I went to the wee little Catholic liberal arts institution of higher learning in Reading, Pennsylvania for my undergrad (I can call it that now since I'm getting geared up for grad, right?) because going up the drive when my father and I visited all those years ago I just got a kind of frisson. And that gut feeling was proven by the experience of going there.
First stop was Stevens.
Up River Road, crossing the Delaware at Frenchtown, 513 to I-78 to the NJ Turnpike Extension to Exit 15C. I wound my wending way through Jersey City, going right through the old neighborhood, and waving to cubby j. sherwood when I went right by the condo de cubby. Jersey Avenue took me to the Fair City of Hoboken, which shares the distinction with Wilton Manners and West Hollywood of being a city completely surrounded by another city.
So, Hoboken is a rip! Why didn't I live there?
(Oh. Right. I couldn't afford it.)
You make a left onto Frank Sinatra Street and then a right onto Frank Sinatra Avenue and a left onto Frank Sinatra Boulevard and Stevens Institute of Technology is right there by Frank Sinatra Waterfront Park. There was a parking place waiting for me right out front of where I wanted to be! Does that always happen in Hoboken?
I met with the guy who's the head of the department and we had a decent back and forth. I definitely saw and heard nothing to dissuade me. Because CM is run out of their engineering school, the emphasis is on materials, technology, cost estimation... verrrrry nuts-and-boltsy. And I eat that stuff up with a spoon.
After I finished up my meeting, I walked down to the Frank Sinatra Memorial Little League Field to get a hamburger for lunch from the concession stand. A commemorative plaque informed me that everybody on the City Council and all the folks in charge of the Hoboken Little League seem to be of italian descent. What's more, they all seem to have those really nasty sounding italian names, like "Sfoggliagazze." (That probably happened when their forbears went through Ellis Island. The helpful folks who worked there would amuse themselves by giving made-up names to the huddled masses. My friend Lou's grandmother's family name was "Bevelaqua," but those scamps at Ellis Island decided that "Scaffitti" would be more fun, and Scaffitti was what went on the immigration papers. "Bevelaqua" means "Drink-Water" in italian. "Scaffitti" means nothing in italian.)
One of the most impressive things about Stevens is the location, looking across the Hudson to Manhattan. Pretty breathtaking.
I found my way to the Holland Tunnel and after about twenty minutes, found a place to park in the West Village. Heading up Eighth Avenue, I passed this... this... this man. One of those They Walk Among Us guys. Amazing body, beautiful gut, deep dark tan, his body and face covered with a pelt of golden blond hair. Apparently, he was taking his dog for a walk. (I didn't look at the dog. It might have been a cat. Or a capaybara. Or a juvenile yetti.) He was shirtless, wearing mirrored sunglasses, cargo shorts, and boots. Spectacular. I gave him an appreciative smile, and he gave me a nod of acknowledgement. Thanks for that, God! After a stop at Starbucks, I hopped on the subway, taking the C train up to Times Square.
I have been away a long time.
Riding the subway, something I used to do every day of my life, had such the feeling of novelty about it. Like a Nile cruise. Y'know what I miss? Subway babies! You see them all the time. These bright, attentive, fascinated-by-the-whole-thing babies, sitting on their mothers' laps, smiling and laughing. Why is it that all babies here in the Howling Wilderness of Pennsylvania spend their time in public screaming, crying, shrieking, running around heedlessly, whining, throwing whatever they can get their sticky little fingers on, and demanding high sugar treats? Every baby I see here in the Howling Wilderness leaves me grateful that being a homo has probably meant that I dodged that bullet. But with subway babies, there I am making faces and playing peek-a-boo and gushing to mom about how precious her little one is.
I got off the train at 42nd Street, and decided to walk through the tunnel connecting the 8th Avenue line with the 7th Avenue line. Many years ago, I christened this passage "The Corridor of Sorrows." Not only is it a seemingly endless subterranean tract, but way back when (at least longer than I've been in NYC), there's this art installation: these signs attached to the girders in the ceiling. You only see them as you're walking east. They read like a Burma Shave ad, spaced every twenty or thirty feet or so.
WHY THE PAIN?
JUST GO HOME
DO IT AGAIN.
When I first moved to NYC and was working in Midtown, I started out taking the L Train to 8th Ave, then the A to 42nd Street, then I'd walk through that very passage way on my way to my soul-crushing office job. I had to change my route, walking all the way to Astor Place to catch the N or the R. It was just too much.
So NYU had their Open House at the fabulous Marriott Marquis hotel! The Marriott Marquis sports a revolving cocktail lounge on the top floors. Make sure you go there before you die. It's... well... it's a revolving cocktail lounge! It's a big round room , and the outside twenty feet or so slowly turn. After about an hour, you've taken in a 360° view of Manhattan without changing your seat. When I was last up there, it hadn't been renovated since the 1970s, so it was verrrrry Hart To Hart. Sadly, the interior wasn't landmarked before it was updated. The Open House, however, was only on the fourth floor.
You gotta hand it to NYU. They know how to market. My experiences with the rival schools of Drexel and Stevens compare to NYU are like a 4 a.m. infomercial going up against Spiderman. NYU put on a show. They dazzled! They wowed!
Their program has some significant differences from the other schools. You get the technical stuff, though perhaps with not quite the depth. Possibly, it prepares you to supervise cost estimating rather than estimating costs. It seems to be akin to an MBA with a concentration in Construction Management, with courses in Accounting, Law, Real Estate, and Negotiation that the other schools don't offer. Construction Management at NYU is part of their Real Estate Institute. It's so NYC. And I mean that in a good way.
Did you know that over the next ten years, there are $ 58 Billion in construction projects planned? From the Atlantic Yards to the Far West Side to various stadia going up. Construction Managers will have exactly no problem whatsoever finding work. And real estate development in New York City is already rife with NYU grads, apparently eager to give a helping hand to fellow alum. And get this? Have you ever seen the big fat NYU catalog of non-credit courses that NYU puts out? Well if I were enrolled in NYU's Construction Management program, I could take any of them for free. (Well, not exactly "for free," since I'd be paying $1,260-a-credit.
Another NYU Fun Fact is that as part of the application, they require a "Personal Statement." As explained, this is our "opportunity to speak directly to the admissions committee." And, they'll be checking up on our writing skills.
Get that? It's like writing college admissions essays!!!
Heh. Checking up on our "writing skills." Six months ago, I wrote a grant proposal that brought in $ 400,000. I think I might not have a lot to worry about then.
Anyway, despite the impressive show that NYU put on, it's not clinched that I'm going there. I liked Drexel, and I liked Stevens. I'll apply to all of them, see what each school is willing to do in terms of financial aid, and factor in things like location and the commute it would involve,
"Hi. I'm a Construction Manager. I have a Master's Degree."
I am SO going to grad school.