Sunday, April 16, 2006

Colleges: Your Input Appreciated

I'd like your help.

I'd like you to tell me about your personal experiences at YU or Stern, what you know of the University of Chicago, what your criteria for college is (was), which other colleges you were considering (if you went to either YU or Stern) and your major.

If you'd like, feel free to remain anonymous so I don't associate you with the college you're telling me about. In addition, I'll keep in mind that some of the material may be dated/ things may be different, due to the fact that many of you are adults.

Please place the following in order from 1-10. (1 being the most important, 10 the least) How do you rank (in terms of making your or a college decision) the following?

__ Economic/ Monetary concerns
__ Convenience
__ Location
__ Diversity
__ Judaism (Jewish studies, population)
__ Social Life
__ Academics
__ Campus
__ Campus Facilities (dorms, beds, library)

Here is a list that I have compiled (you may not want to read this right off, because it might interfere with whatever it is you wanted to tell me):

(I have no idea why this is halfway down the page)

University of Chicago Yeshiva University/ Stern Honors Program

Judaic studies- none that would serve me, due to the fact that I myself am an advanced student comparatively

Many Bible, Tanakh, Talmud classes
English program is superior

English program is good, but not as excellent as that of U of C

Dorm facilities are beautiful- I can have a single if I’d like; a double at most

Four people in a room simply to start out with, and although I know one person I’d room with, I’m really more of a solitary creature

I can study in my own room, type, use my laptop, go to bed whenever I like

I must be considerate of other people. Also, the noise level is bound to be high, so I’ve heard from reliable sources that “staking out a classroom” is a better way to get homework done.

Location is Chicago, and not the best neighborhood at that Location is New York, home of the big and the brave
The students are very intellectual, motivated, passionate about their learning, exciting and easy to speak with.

You can find your band of students, but on the whole the student body is united through religion rather than a shared desire to learn/ passion for learning.

The social scene (in the sense of the Jewish community) is very small, but workable.

The social scene is large and invigorating- there’s a good chance I’d like meeting new people with different types of Judaic thought.

There is a kosher deli and supposedly they are building a kosher kitchen (for what would be my Junior year) but other than that and the Hillel, I’m on my own.

There are kosher cafeterias, restaurants; I don’t have to cook.

I have to arrange taking tests due to my religious requirements (holiday restrictions)

Holidays are given off, no tests


Jewish Atheist said...

Chana, did you get the email I sent you a while back?

Anonymous said...

These are the only schools you applied to/are accepted to, correct?

Anonymous said...

UoC - I know of someone at UoC and was kinda disappointed with the size of the Jewish community. He said that the Orthodox community is smaller than he thought - impacting minyanim, but also socially. He feels that with so few Orthodox Jews, he was not able to meet as many people as he could have at another school.

Stern - Although socially it is nice (and close to NYU and Columbia/Barnard) I have heard much disappointment about the academic level. However, I know nothing about the Honors program you got into.

You should make sure to visit UoC for Shabbat

Tobie said...

Well...I think you know of my thoughts on the subject. The problem is that there are so so very many advantages on both sides and that comparing the two is nearly impossible. Good luck!

e-kvetcher said...

What major are you planning to pursue?

Chana said...

That would depend on where I went. Either Bible and English Literature, or simply English Lit. There is a chance I might do English Lit and Religious Studies instead.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure that there's nothing good in Judaic Studies at U of C? I know a lot of good schools have excellent Judaic Studies professors from whom you could learn a lot, although probably more literary or critical than "yeshiva style." I went to Harvard, which has a great Judaic Studies department. Other Ivies do, also, so I'd be surprised if Chicago's wasn't good.

I only considered colleges that had a daily Orthodox minyan, and I think I'd probably have been happier at a smaller, friendlier school. Ultimately, Harvard worked out, though, and honestly, I think that either Stern or Chicago could work out fine. I know people who went to Chicago and took a semester off to attend Yale or Harvard (one person who did each), and I also know two people who went to Harvard who each did a semester at Stern. So nothing is permanent and nothing is forever.

Anonymous said...

Whoops. I meant that I know people who went to Stern who did a semester at Harvard or Yale, and people who went to Harvard who did a semester at Yale. Chicago wasn't supposed to slip in there.

Also, at Chicago you might be able to do a semester or even a year at Hebrew U. or Bar Ilan and get your Judaic Studies in that way. Just a thought.

Ezzie said...

For self-motivators, academics tend to be as good as you make them once you're at a certain level. The teachers in Stern are likely good enough to help you in that regard, even if they're not up to par with the ones at UC.

Socially, however, you're limited to whatever is around you. If UC has very little socially, *even if you generally prefer to keep to yourself*, there's a good chance you will be unhappy no matter how good the academics.

When it comes down to it, it's going to be UC's English vs. Stern's Judaism & Social Life. Even if you consider the English the more important factor, the question remains whether Stern is so much worse than UC.

I could probably put you in touch with some people in Stern if you'd like to hear their opinions on their experiences... email me if you'd like.

One seperate note: It's generally a good idea for someone's social maturation and general, err, happiness to get [far] away from home for a few years. No matter the relationship one has with his/her parents, a few years away has been a huge plus in just about every aspect of a person's life, based on... well, just about everyone I know - those who did and those who didn't. It's another factor worth considering.

Anonymous said...

Well I will obviusly tell you to make aliyah and go to college in israel for free. My mother though actually grew up in chicago (pronounced chi caw go :)
She went to UOC and then transferd to stern and became super frum and dated my dad for a week AND they are married happily now 25 years later b'h.

Anonymous said...

Since youre still deciding between the two schools, ill list out a few practical differences between the two colleges (I have a decent amount of anecdotal evidence, as well as published stats). A few have already been mentioned.

1) Chicago has superior college faculty and departments. Not just good v. excellent, but more like average-below average v. excellent. I will repost the academic reputations posted on the last thread.

harvard 4.9
u of c 4.7
columbia 4.6
penn 4.5
NYU 3.7
Fordham 3.1
YU 3.0
St johns ny 2.9

2) Chicago has superior students. Often times you end up learning more from your classmates than you do for professors. In this regard Chicago will serve you much better
3) Large advantage if applying to any top grad school. Many grad/law/med/mba schools release stats regarding the average scores and gpa of accepted students, broken down by college (for example, X law school’s average lsat score/gpa accepted from Chicago college will be 166/3.7, but for YU will be 171/3.8). Going to a top college helps at every form of grad school, especially competitive doctoral and medical school programs. Attached below is a link of percent of college classes going to top programs. YU doesn’t appear, and wouldn’t appear unless you went down about 300 spots.
you should ask yu for their numbers of students accepted to top programs (its doubtful they will show it to you, though).

4) Freedom in the job market. There are many jobs out there that will not even consider interviewing people if they didn’t attend a top college (obviously, with a few exceptions). And even if you don’t go for competitive jobs, it will make you far more desirable on every interview you go on. This is one of the reasons so many parents kill to get their kids into top schools- opportunities and connections.

e-kvetcher said...

That would depend on where I went. Either Bible and English Literature, or simply English Lit. There is a chance I might do English Lit and Religious Studies instead.

I guess what I really meant was, what do you plan to do with your life? Law school, PHD (if so - in what?)

Knowing this would help in giving advice.

Anonymous said...

Stern's the better choice. U of C may have a better reputation, but the Stern's honors program is on a very high level, and you will meet students who like to take challenging courses. And the Limudei Kodesh classes will just be outstanding - that's a landslide in favor of Stern in that category, and I think for you that should be the decisive factor. You may have to be with 3 roommates your first year, but during your second year I think you can get your own room.

Ezzie said...

To Anon (of the academics) & Chana...

I have to agree with anon on at least one matter: YU/Stern probably is closer to a second-tier college [even the honors program] while UC is solidly first-rate.

However, I really don't think that matters, particularly in Chana's case. Harvard (ironically) did a study a few years back, tracking the differences between students in 1st-tier universities did vs. students in other colleges. The results found (among other things) that coming near the top of an average-good college was better than coming in the middle of an Ivy League school, whether one was applying for a job or to a grad school (med school, law school, whatever). It matters how well you do, not what college you went to. This is particularly true when one considers that grad schools especially like to show their diversity by saying they take people from all different schools and backgrounds; you don't want to be shut out because there's a cap of 5 people being taken from UC, while there's nobody in Stern applying. A guy in Lander just got into Harvard Law, and the admissions officer told the PolSci professor that his "different" background, being a Lander student, helped push him in.

Furthermore, academic rankings are done by professors, if I'm not mistaken. The problems with professors are many, chief among them their leanings toward theory over practicality. Mortimer Zuckerman, in USNews' Grad School issue a few weeks ago, wrote an excellent article discussing this problem, which is far more prevalent among top schools - especially within the classroom. He quoted Harvard's (former) dean Summers who was fixing this problem at Harvard itself, only to be deposed thanks to the other professors for doing just that. [The students, on the other hand, loved Summers - his class was by far the most heavily attended on campus.]

Chana said...

Some statements that might help:

1. I need to be challenged. This is chief among all things.

2. If I want something enough, I have full confidence I can do it.

3. I like concepts rather than technical proofs, and will enjoy conceptual classes more.

4. My attitude will determine how well or badly I do. If I enter either school with preconceived notions, no matter whether or not they are true, this will hinder me.

5. Distractions are problematic. I don't do very well with them. I mean this across the spectrum.

6. Coed vs. single-sex is a big question/ factor for me.

Anonymous said...

I agree with alot of what ezzie says with a few exceptions (im the anon above who wrote about academic reps).

1) "It matters how well you do, not what college you went to." This is true on average, but there are many competitive professions (i.e. finance, consulting etc.) that really wont look at you unless you went to a top college even with top grades (this is also true with some professional schools, for example it is very very difficult for YU students to get into top med schools). Also, keep in mind there is no guarantee that anyone will do very well in college- so the better college is more suited for the risk averse.

2)"A guy in Lander just got into Harvard Law, and the admissions officer told the PolSci professor that his "different" background, being a Lander student, helped push him in"

The guy who got into harvard had a 174 lsat (99.6%) and a 4.2+ gpa, far above the 170 3.8 median harvard scores. Every year there are several touro students who get 170+/3.8+, they hardly ever get admitted to harvard, while the top schools each send 20-50 people to harvard (or other top schools)with much lower numbers. There is no cap on students from top schools. Yu students need much higher scores to get into to law schools.

The Cahans in Israel said...

Even though I went to college ages ago I can relate to what you are going through. I ended up going to University of Maryland because of the huge difference in tuition between UM and YU. I lived at home and despite being out of NY, managed to still have friends and be frum. However, I knew a number of people who went to UM and went "off the derech" because they were like kids in a candy shop. How you end up is really dependent on who you are. Today, UM is actually much different than it was when I went there both from an academic and religious perspective (I probably wouldn't get in today). U of C has a great reputation. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Wow - good topic. I simply don't know enough about you to weigh in on this topic.

I went to YU. Of my immediate friends (including me) we have 2 columbia law students, one harvard law student, one Georgetown law student, one dude who got into Johns Hopkins medical school and another guy who wne tto Penn law school. This was just my immediate circle of friends. I'm not sure what this means, but I suspect that if you do well, you'll be able to go where you want.

However, I suspect tnat your concern is more about what you will take out of college rather than what graduate school/job you will get after. You will probably get a better secular education and U C and definately be surrounded by more serious students (on average), but it often boils down to - which is more important, Secular or Judaic?

If English Literature is your "thing", UC will have more choices. But you are also interested in a Bible/Judaic Studies major. I would assume that Stern is better.

Socially, again UC students will probably be more mature/more sewrious, but Stern will be filled with, well, frum people.

Again, I don't know you so there is probably no way to help.

I would suggest you spend time at both places before making a determination.

Dovid said...

Looking at that chart, I think YU wins. But get a room or apt. of your own, if you can. Four people can be a bit overwhelming.

Ezzie said...

Anon Academic...

Hope it didn't sound like I was attacking you. Just pointing out the other side...

2) As a note, the Lander guy actually had a perfect 180 (I should have mentioned that), though from what I understood, a lower GPA. You can't get over 4.0 in Lander.

1) True about the risk averse. For driven students, I don't think it's much of a risk, though; Chana seems to (from her writings) fall into that category.

Chana - It's going to boil down to Secular vs. Judaic, from the sound of it. Elster's suggestion to spend time at both is a good one, if possible - sit in on some classes at Stern, see if they're good enough that you won't be disappointed and miserable.

Everyone is different about this, but one other note: I went from being a shy guy in my own room all my life (with a brother away from when I was 4 and a sister away from when I was 11) to having a few roomates. Until I got married, I had between 2 and 5 other roomates for all but a few months (when I had only 1), and loved it. Anyone who's met me in the last 7-8 years would laugh if you suggested I'm shy, too. Just about everyone I know gained tremendously from having roomates and living in dorms or apartments with others.

In fact, I think ~11 of my former roomates will be at my house this coming Shabbos! :)

Anonymous said...

I dislike the 1-10 thing, as well as answering as a list. So I'll write a little essay:

At the time, and now still, I see Judaism as most important. I am now, and have always been, open. But I believe that so much that passes for doubt and decision is really desire. Part of the university experience from the get go was fraternity style partying and experimentation and letting of inhibitions. I believe that YU/Stern is the safest place to be as far as coleges go, for the most part. Money is not as important as survival. Nor are facilities orlocation, convenience, etc...