With that out of the way, it's time to delve into one of the biggest decisions I ever made: picking a college.
It came down to Boston University and Northeastern University. Both schools accepted me (of course!) and the decision wrecked me. I disliked the tour of BU, especially since the campus is one long street. I loved visiting Northeastern. The campus seemed modern and state of the art. I remember walking into the Marino Center with my mom and looking up awe-struck at all the levels of machinery and the glass walls. I was easily impressed back then.
Sometimes I think about what would have changed if I chose BU. Would I have worked for the Globe? Would I be working at CBS right now? All I really know is I would have graduated one year earlier. I would know a whole new set of people and I never would have had a ping pong table --impeccably painted in Celtics green and white -- in my apartment.
The whole process came back to me while I watched BU win another Beanpot title ... against my Huskies. Yes, I only care about college hockey for one week in February each year, but gosh darn it, I want a Beanpot! If I chose BU, I would have several all to myself. So I'm here right now to settle it once and for all.
Let's break this down Nick Bakay style.
Academics: My half-brother urged me to pick BU and he had his reasons. Frankly, it's a more prestigious school. It's not Harvard by a long shot, but it's a fine institution. Northeastern, until recent years, was a commuter school and way outside the Top 100. It's making strides, and I certainly had my share of good professors and interesting classes, but NU still has a way to go.
Campus: Northeastern is a ten minute walk from Fenway Park. Maybe some places in BU are within a similar distance, but you couldn't ask for a better location in Boston. Just minutes from the Prudential Center, Mass Ave, etc. BU has the Charles and many nice buildings, but it's one long street. NU is like the new hot-shot conglomerate sprouting up high-rises like weeds. As a journalism student, I was barred from entering any place constructed before the Civil War, but those engineering buildings sure looked spiffy from the outside.
Athletics: BU's hockey team has NU beat. That much is clear. However, BU has no football team. Their baseball team has been off-and-on concerning varsity status. Their basketball team? They had Rick Pitino once. But we had Jim Calhoun, who's better. NU has storied Parsons Field, the Lambeau of Boston. Opponents would rather move to Afghanistan than play a road game in the raucous Cabot Cage. Or maybe no one really cares about sports at NU. You can't blame them. But Carlos Pena and Reggie Lewis (RIP) put NU over the top.
(Note: The "Sucks to BU" phrase is almost as tired as "Yankees suck" or "Overrated" chants. Instead of BU, say PU! That's the ticket.)
Fine Dining: Nothing beat going to the NU cafeteria for some French Toast sticks in the morning and the brick-oven pizza and stir fry at night, topped with some ice cream. They even provided free laxatives in every meal. BU mostly served it's pampered students with caviar and fine steaks free of charge. They handed out champagne and brought Bobby Darin in to sing during each dinner. But did they have Chicken Lou's? BHOP? Boston Shawarma?
BU -- Martin Luther King Jr., Howard Stern, Geena Davis, Marissa Tomei, Stephanie and Shane McMahon, Bill O'Reilly, Tipper Gore, F. Lee Bailey, Stan Grossfeld, Rosie O'Donnell, Faye Dunaway, Jason Alexander, former Secretary of Defense William Cohen, Joan Baez.
NU -- Shawn Fanning (founder of Napster), Will McDonough, Don Orsillo, Jeff Schaible, Jane Curtin (SNL), Jose Juan Barea, Reggie Lewis, Carlos Pena.
Co-op program: Do you know NU has a co-op program? Do you?? So let's see how BU's co-op is.... Oh, they don't have one. FAIL.
Students: While definitely populated by its share of drunk morons, NU's student base is middle-class, down-to-earth and wholesome. All the Kaitlin McNeelys of Walpole and Frank Darrigans of Wrentham always have a home at Northeastern. Meanwhile, Chatsworth Farmington Cloosenbury V can have his driver take him to Comm. Ave and hold a Nikkei Index party. We're just fine pissing off Roxbury and Mission Hill residents with our sexy parties at 1 a.m. (I never got my invitations to these), thank you very much.
The Derek Jeter/Jason Varitek Intangibles: Did NU have hot girls who expressed themselves with jogging pants equipped with lettering on the ass? You betcha. Did it have more Red Sox hats than you could ever see at Fenway? Sure. Did it represent a wide swath of America, from the snowy villages of Maine to the douchebag factories of Long Island and New Jersey? Yes sir! To be fair, BU probably had all these as well. And they always were blessed with cool commencement speakers. And I've never heard of the BU shuffle.
Reputation: People all over the nation respect BU and its degree. As for my school .... here's a common conversation.
Random person: So why did it take you five years to graduate?
Me: I went to Northeastern. It has a co-op program and -
Random person: Ah, Northwestern. Fine school.
Me: No, Northeastern.
Random person: Oh ... is that the riot school?
There it is. When you look at the numbers, it's simple. NU wins, 5-3 with one push. BU may have the legacy, the names and the Beanpots, but they lose where it counts -- my rating system.
It's time to admire my NU degree.