i keep coming back and reading your post
it really resonates in a lot of ways.
I teach photography in the art department of a major university. I can tell you from experience, as a teacher, and as a former student making the same kind of modernist photographs you like, that it is not 1954 anymore. Don't worry about a Gursky selling for any amount of money. That is unrelated to you making photographs or having your work critiqued, or art making in general. That is about art market economics, not art making.
I am not going to tell you that you cannot make the photographs like your heroes, but be prepared to defend it. What they are telling you in subtext is that art moves forward, and the work you like was made half a century ago. How can you make them while looking to the future of photography? If all you want is to make that type of photograph, then there is no need for you to get a BFA, or even go to school. The department is going to push you to evolve in style and ideas. That does not mean you need to change what you do, but they are going to ask you to think critically about why you choose to look to the past and explore old ideas about photography, and not new ones. You need to ask yourself the same thing.
You are going to get a lot of people here telling you what you want to hear, that a university is only going to try to force you to make photographs like the people you hate. That is not true, and if it is, go to a different school. But, a university is about research. In the art department, that means exploration of new ideas in visual communication. If you are only rehashing old ideas, you are not doing research.
No matter what you do in your work, be open minded about other people's work. Look at all of it, even if it isn't what you would make. Try to understand what they are trying to accomplish and it may help you figure out what you want to accomplish in your own work.