N.Y.U. Steamrolls the Ivies

Harvard, Yale and Princeton are the Holy Trinity of American higher education, are they not? After all, wouldn’t any high-school senior leap at the chance to spend four years being coddled in those Ivy halls, with the guarantee of a gold-plated jump on the competition when it comes time to find a job?

Apparently not. For the second year in a row, New York University came out on top when the Princeton Review surveyed 2,885 college applicants and asked them, “What college would you most like to attend, were prospects of acceptance or cost not issues?” N.Y.U. was trailed by, in order, Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Duke, Cornell, Brown and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. High-school students are catching on that N.Y.U. can provide an academic experience to rival that of the Ivies.

N.Y.U. has benefited from extraordinary leadership and the recruitment of academic talent from around the world, a solid legacy left by Larry Tisch and continued into the 21st century by chairman Martin Lipton and the university’s visionary president, John Sexton. The university has invested in faculty who are the leading experts in economics, math, philosophy, art history, romance languages, urban policy, finance and neurosciences. And over the past 30 years, N.Y.U. has consistently made intelligent and strategic decisions: selling its Bronx campus and focusing its energy on Washington Square, creating the Tisch School of the Arts, building dormitories so that it could evolve from a commuter school into a university attracting students from all corners of the globe.

The university’s success is also a sign of the city’s remarkable record at improving the quality of life over the past decade. The crime-fighting policies of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly have allowed New York to keep its standing as the safest large city in America. Parents can feel good about sending their children here, knowing the streets are safe and clean. And students have some of the world’s greatest museums and theaters a mere subway ride away, not to mention the proximity to the country’s centers of power in finance, media, journalism and the arts. Since 1994, undergraduate applications to N.Y.U. have increased by 135 percent. Thirty-four thousand students applied for admission to N.Y.U. this fall, more than any other private university.

Building a great university takes time, but it’s no surprise that young people across the nation have discovered that N.Y.U. is the place to study in the 21st century.

City’s Pollution Law: Close the Loopholes

In an effort to further improve the air we breathe-not to mention our quality of life-the City Council and the Bloomberg administration decided two years ago to clean up the construction industry. In an unprecedented move, City Hall decreed that equipment like backhoes and bulldozers would be subject to emissions-control regulations.

It sounds great, on paper. But it turns out that the rules that would implement the law’s good intentions may give the construction industry a way around investing in the best pollution-control filters, the kind that can eliminate up to 95 percent of emissions.

According to a draft of proposed regulations, contractors would be able to buy cheaper filters, which capture only about 25 percent of emissions. That may be good news for contractors looking to save a few bucks, but it’s bad news for the rest of us.

Most New Yorkers have seen firsthand the black junk that spews forth from heavy-duty construction vehicles like backhoes and dump trucks. In a city that is as relentlessly unfinished as ours, pollution from construction vehicles is not to be taken lightly. That’s why the city also insists that all city-owned construction equipment use low-sulfur diesel fuel, which is more expensive than regular diesel, but well worth the investment. Private contractors on city jobs also are required to use the cleaner fuel.

Some analysts argue that imposing strict regulations governing the kind of filters contractors use will hurt smaller companies and reduce the number of contractors who will be eligible to bid for city contracts. But frankly that’s what so many contractors and business owners say every time they are told to clean up their act on behalf of the public. Every piece of environmental legislation has faced opposition from people who simply don’t want to pay the cost of running a clean operation.

In the end, of course, dirty air has a cost of its own, and it is a lot higher than the $12,000 or so it costs to buy a really good filter. Dirty air leads to health problems, a lower quality of life and a dirty, unhealthy city.

Having made its intentions clear in the legislation, the city should follow up by promulgating tough regulations that put the public interest ahead of private profits.

The Secret to Marriage: Reality or Romance?

Are you a newlywed who worships the ground your spouse walks on? Do you adore him or her beyond all measure, compose sonnets in your heart, swoon when they enter the room? If so, you may be headed for divorce.

According to a new study of couples married less than six months, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the rose-colored glasses of romance can sabotage a marriage. Participants in the study were asked to evaluate their partners on both a global scale-i.e., is he or she a worthwhile person?-and on specific strengths and weaknesses when it came to areas such as intelligence, social skills, organization and tidiness. While almost all of the couples gave each other perfect scores on the big issues, some were more matter-of-fact when it came to assessing their partner’s weaknesses. And it was notable that in these “realist” couples, each partner tended to admit that his or her partner’s comments were accurate. Such realistic assessments of each other’s less-than-sterling qualities turned out to be a good predictor of marital satisfaction and success: When researchers returned to the same couples four years later, those starry-eyed couples who had refused to see any negative traits in their partners had a higher rate of divorce than the realists.

It’s still the same old story: Love is blind.