Going to Boston

Stefanie is a senior in high school. I’m not sure I remember too much about that time, but whatever it was, Steffie is under much more pressure than I ever faced. As Helaine pointed out, every school seems to be selective. Every school has difficult criteria. It’s a sad part of our evolving society. Seventeen should be more carefree.

We are going through the process of looking at colleges. So, Friday we set off to Boston to visit Emerson.

I think it’s great that Steffie is interested in Emerson, because it means she thinks communications is something she might want to do and is an honorable profession. 35+ years ago, I attended Emerson. Though I never finished (hey – I would have stayed… they wanted me out), my time there shaped my life. I will always be grateful.

Many of the skills I still use today, and certainly the skills which got me to this point in my career, were first born at Emerson. I met two of my closest, dearest, best friends while there. To have friends for this long is a good thing.

We left the house at 10:00, got on I-91 and headed toward Hartford. From there it was I-84 to the Mass Pike and then straight into the city. Luckily for us the weather was perfect and the Red Sox decided to hold their parade the next day!

I still remember a little about the city and quickly found my way to the garage under the Boston Common. Back when I went to Emerson, it was against my moral code to pay for parking. I also didn’t have much cash. I think this was my first time down there.

We came up in the Common just off Charles Street. We though it would be smart to find where we were going and then kill some time. Good idea. Emerson has moved since I attended and the admissions office is in one of many scattered buildings in the Theater District.

We walked along the edge of the Public Gardens up to Boylston Street. Some of what I saw was familiar. Other things, including prominent buildings and streets had changed radically.

We walked past a tobacconist where I used to buy bulk tobacco. As stupid as it sounds now, I started smoking cigarettes while in college. In the beginning, I bought tobacco in bulk and then rolled my own, using a hand operated machine. I have been smoke free for about 20 years.

We popped into City Place with its fast food stands. Helaine and Steffie shared something and I decided to go off my diet and have a slice of pizza. I didn’t know it when I ordered it, but this slice was the size of a small home. Unreal.

We finally decided the time was right and went to the admissions office for a video program and a tour.

There were 7 or 8 families sitting in this “L” shaped room. On the wall were some flat screen TVs and a computer monitor. Our host, from Emerson’s admissions office, walked in and the program began.

The video portion was produced by students using equipment at the school. It was slickly done. Some of the humor was a little sophomoric, but it was done by students for potential students. It worked.

The host then began to tell us about the programs the school offers. It was incredibly impressive. Of course, as someone in the business, I know that a recent graduate isn’t going to have the practical experience it takes as soon as they graduate. But these courses certainly give a firm foundation.

The families were then split into two groups and we set out to visit the school. We visited the radio stations, WERS and WECB. I had been on both of them during my time at Emerson. Back then, they were basically thrown together in old buildings. Now it looked like there was some planning and foresight… and cleaning.

The equipment was top notch. That really impressed me. I remembered the hand-me-down stuff when I was there.

We continued on to some TV studios and a working newsroom and then into a small theater. Again, this was nothing like the school I remembered. Emerson has definitely raised the bar over the years.

Finally, we went and saw a dorm. The room we visited was on the 5th floor without much of a view. It was moderately sized by dorm standards. I wondered, if Steffie went, how she’d decide what small percentage of her possessions to take.

Along with everything else that Emerson offers is this intangible – they’re right in the heart of downtown Boston. The subway is across the street. The Statehouse is a few minutes walk away. There are theaters and movies and everything that goes with being in a city. It would seem a great place to live.

I could see Steffie was excited. If Emerson was selling, Steffie was buying.

I would later send a note to a few friends who went there telling them how much the school had changed, and how much better it seemed now than when we went.

We left the school and walked toward what had been the administration building and, across the street, my dorm. The dorms will be used for another year, but the administration building is in the process of being converted to condos. Back Bay real estate is just too valuable for a college.

Before we left, we thought we’d go to Legal Seafood for dinner. It’s very Boston and we wanted that experience. It was good and any thoughts I had about only cheating a little from my diet were soon dashed.

We had bumper to bumper traffic for the first hour. Other than that, the trip home was easy and effortless.

We had been gone for about 12 hours. It felt like we had been gone for days.

Blogger’s note: I took my camera along (as you can probably see). Click on any of the photos for a larger version or go to my gallery for a look at all the Boston pictures.

One thought on “Going to Boston”

  1. Hi Geoff,

    Read with interest your entry on Emerson. My son, also a senior is interested in Emerson as well. We went up to the open house about 2 weeks ago.

    As an aside, we’ve also looked at Quinnipiac, Marist, Eastern and are headed to Svavannah College of Art & Design.

    I was really impressed with what I saw at Emerson. Not that I’d now what all of that stuff did, it was apparent that the equipment in the video and film production facilities is top notch.

    My son is interested in video and film production and editing and Emerson sure seems to fit the bill. What impressed me the most is how early the students get their hands on the equipment. The more time they get with it, the more ready they’ll be for the “real world”

    I also liked what Quinnipiac had to offer. But, it seems to me that my son will need extra school time to be completely up to snuff on the equipment. The folks there said that students don’t touch equipment until Junior year. I understand the philosophy, I’m not sure I agree with it. Eastern was a nice school and Marist is last on my son’s list. He wasn’t impressed.

    As for whether I can afford Emerson, at @$35,000 a year…. probably not. But if it will get Ryan a head start in a field that seems very competitive to me, I’ll figure it out and make it work.

    I’m a regular reader of your blog. I’ve been a fan for a long time, but I have to admit that Dr. Mel is my alltime favorite. I can remember waking up as a pre-teen to his broadcasts on WLAD in Danbury from the “Western Connecticut Earth and Space Environmental Center”.

    Thanks again for a great blog.

    Best Wishes,

    Larry Dann

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