August 8th, 2009

College Applications 2009: an after-action analysis

Or, "Why I Think I Got Into Hofstra And Not Stony Brook."

It wasn't hard to figure this out. I had the majority of it pegged down not long after I saw the "ding" notice in Mayport. One of any number of analogies can be used to describe the situation. I put the cart before the horse. I tried to throw to first base without fielding the ball cleanly. I turned and ran upfield without catching the pass. In short, I acted as though it was in the bag without it being so.

Despite having talked about it extensively here, my contact with Stony Brook was limited to a couple of short spurts. The first was filling out the basic SUNY application, a process that required less than an hour to complete. The second was filling out a supplemetal application nearly a month later. That included an essay, one which I cranked out in about an hour and a quarter (it was on my experience in the Navy). At no time did I set foot on the Stony Brook campus. At no time did I actually speak with anyone in their admissions office or anyone else affiliated with the university. While they never gave me a reason for the rejection, being nothing more than a collection of bytes to them - and one with a prior college GPA of less than 2.0 - couldn't have helped the cause. As I wrote here recently, the application to Hofstra was quite different; not only did I go there and press my case in person, I made a 550 mile round trip to procure my Cornell transcript.

I've also compared these experiences to the process of applying to college fresh out of high school ten years ago. I don't remember so much of the schools I declined, or those that declined me. I do recall that with respect to Cornell, there was plenty of contact in the months leading up to April 3, 1999. I did a Red Carpet visit over Veteran's Day 1998. I interviewed with a member of CAAAN. And of course, this was in addition to all the standard application materials I sent in. Correction - the materials that I gave to my school's guidance office to be sent in, because that's how we rolled in those days. It's certainly possible that a demonstrated enthusiasm for the Big Red was a factor in Cornell's decision to admit me. (And for the record, when I did receive the thick envelope with a return address in zip code 14853, the tuition deposit was in the mail nearly as fast as my military ID on the day of separation.)

One more thing, not so much related to the applications. My mom asked me yesterday if I would find it difficult to shift my allegiance. I looked at her with a mix of shock and bewilderment, at a level slightly lower than that appropriate for a statement of sympathy with al-Qaeda. She continued, "or do you intend to shift them?" Finally, I could speak: "Absolutely not." I may end up with a degree that says Hofstra University on it, but it's like Scotty said when he guest starred on Star Trek: The Next Generation:
It's like the first time you fall in love. You don't ever love a woman quite like that again.
I feel the same way about my collegiate ties. It's Big Red until the end for me. As Mom quite properly mentioned, it's quite fortunate that Hofstra doesn't field a varsity men's ice hockey team...

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So, Twitter was down for a few hours on Thursday. No big deal, right? Apparently, to some, it was quite a big deal. "Jittery" ? "Naked" ? Like losing a phantom limb? As I myself tweeted, if this is how you're reacting to this sort of thing, you need to evaluate your life and your dependence on the social media. Send a regular e-mail or two, or - God forbid - use the "call" function on your phone.

The death of Billy Mays may have involved cocaine. I am NOT surprised.

What does surprise me is the public reaction of Daniel Schuler to the toxicology report on his wife's death. (She was the driver in the deadly crash on the Taconic Parkway two weeks ago.) Her blood alcohol level was 0.19! She had marijuana in her system! A vodka bottle was recovered from her car! I cannot fathom what he must be going through right now, losing his wife, daughter, and three nieces. But to step in front of the cameras of every major and minor New York media outlet and essentially accuse the Westchester County medical examiner of malpractice, without any supporting evidence, is beyond the pale.

At Hofstra on Tuesday, there was a massive turnout in support of the proposed Lighthouse Project, at a Town of Hempstead public hearing on the topic. Great to see. Even the commissioner of the National Hockey League showed up, and pleaded for the replacement of Nassau Coliseum. This thing needs to get built. It will create needed jobs, retail and housing options for Long Island, to say nothing of quite possibly preventing the Islanders from becoming the Kansas City (insert shitty nickname here). The Governor is behind it. Nassau County is behind it. The objections seem to come mainly from Garden City, and are not totally without merit. And personally, I think some way to spread all the additional property tax revenue among the surrounding school districts should be explored (instead of it all going to Uniondale). But NIMBYism is having a negative impact on Long Island's ability to seriously tackle the major problems it faces.