Friday, August 13, 2010

The Yeshiva-Queens Question

Enrollment at Yeshiva University is down.

This is not surprising, given the following numbers. A male student can choose between attending Yeshiva College and paying tuition of $44,915 dollars per year (I added all the costs under the Full Time Students slot) or attending Queens College for about $4,838.25 dollars (I added the cost of two semesters for students who live in New York plus the Activity Fee.) It's true that YU gives generous scholarships (generally anywhere from $2000-full tuition), but even so, it can't compare to the cost of Queens.

You caution me, however, what about the ability to spend part of one's day learning in yeshiva with Rabbanim? What about the shiurim and programs YU offers? Can a Queens College student get that?

The answer is yes. There are a lot of Queens College attendees who learn at YBT or other Five Towns yeshivot and in this way balance their Judaic and secular commitments in the same way that YU students do. There's a large Jewish community and plenty of kosher restaraunts in Queens. In short, what's not to like?

So let me ask you, in your opinion, what's the draw of a Yeshiva University education over a Queens College+ Yeshiva Of Your Choice (YOYC) education? How is YU to continue attracting students? And if you are a college-aged student, or the parent of one, where would you send your child?


Honestly Frum said...

This is something I posted on a few months ago. Given the high cost of elementary and high school yeshiva education parents are most often simply unable to pay for their kids to go to YU, especially with the costs going up as they are. Elementary school is around $12-15K in the average MO community (YU feeders) and Highschool is often over $20K. By the time the kid reaches college there is generally no money left.

This is something I posted on a few months ago. Given the high cost of elementary and high school yeshiva education parents are most often simply unable to pay for their kids to go to YU, especially with the costs going up as they are. Elementary school is around $12-15K in the average MO community (YU feeders) and High school is often over $20K. By the time the kid reaches college there is generally no money left.

Why would someone choose to straddle themselves with tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt (before even getting to grad school) when a much cheaper alternative is available. YU must be the leading voice in helping to solve the tuition crisis because if they don't they will cease to exists, as most likely will Modern Orthodoxy in America. This is not hyperbole but reality. The money is simply not there to sustain this type of grandiose education going forward.

ZZTop said...

Until YU can offer the prestige and education that comes with a Columbia—or comparable—degree, people who are paying full tuition are, quite frankly, stupid for enrolling.

yitznewton said...

I'll put in a plug for Madreigas HaAdam, a Queens yeshiva specializing in QC students. I finished two degrees at QC whilst learning there. $45k, my goodness... I went to Oberlin for 5 semesters 1998-2000 and it was "only" $31k back then.

I didn't grow up frum, and when I moved from Oberlin to New York I thought I would be continuing in music education/organ, so I never seriously considered YU. I'm sure it's a cultural experience that you can't get elsewhere, but that's a mighty price to pay.

yitznewton said...

P.S. The New York resident tuition break only kicks in after you can prove you've lived in NYS (or was it NYC?) for a year. Too bad they don't follow halachic rules (e.g. keviat mezuzuah, tzedakah) for establishing residency (30 days).

anon1 said...

1. Though YU is not Harvard or Columbia, it still is better, and perhaps more importantly perceived as better, than Queens or Brooklyn or Touro. I can tell you that while I was not the only YU alum in the ivy league law school that I went to, I don't remember anyone from Queens. That doesn't mean you can't or don't get in, but there is still some value in YU on the secular -- probably both in perception and reality.

2. Though there are excellent yeshivos everywhere, the RY (and the bais medresh in general) at YU are incredible on many, many levels.

3. You are ultimately paying for the environment. Yes, I know having been to YU myself for college and kollel that there are parts of the environment there that you want to avoid -- but on the whole, to be in a place with many, many serious learners but who take earning a parnasah seriously, the state of Israel, etc etc, and having other talmidim and rebbeim to discuss things with is invaluable. (Ok, but some may still say not worth $44,000.)
My wife, who went to a top ivy for college and did very well, noted that the real value in her experience was not the education - you forget most of that - but the people you meet and talk to and what you learn from them, you take away.

All in all, I couldnt think of another place I would want my kids. But HF's point is well taken. As BH a gainfully employed father of many who is BH paying much yeshiva day school tuition, I do wonder often about the finances of sending my kids to YU/Stern.

YU is a scam said...

anon1- It is merely by coincidence that you did not meet anyone from Queens where you went to law school. I know AT LEAST 12 people from Queens going to a T-14 law school this coming year. I transferred to Queens from YU and have since found that: the secular education is indeed far better than at YU; most people I know going grad school are going to top schools in their fields (myself included) and won't be massively in debt going in; the frum kids at Queens are just as serious about their learning as any YU student (and there are a variety of Yeshivas right in KGH where many avail themselves of various shiurim and chavrusas); most of the frum kids either live at home or in KGH, both of which are hands-down a better environmental "setting" than Washington Heights (I know the heights is nice and friendly, but lets face it, it's more of a singles hangout than a community). YU, at 44k a year really is a giant scam.

Anonymous said...

Of course no one would dream of doing a long term longitudinal study to actually measure the results.

All I can say is that for all my points of historical/current issues with my oldest and largest alma mater (and that of my 3 sons), imho it's really the only wheel in town, though I fully understand the affordability issues. We should work to improve it and lower the cost (BTW why is it the same people who blanch at charter schools with a Yeshiva wrap think that Queens is a good idea (I say as someone who spent summers studying computers there - there are some distractions there when the weather gets warm:-)) - dai lchakima brimiza)

Joel Rich

Mordechai Y. Scher said...

Community. In the most encompassing sense of the word. YU offers an institution whose raison d'etre includes and is permeated by creating a society of Torah Umadda. Queens and other places may have a lot of individuals who learn, and there may be a certain confederacy among them; but it isn't a defining factor in the schools establishment, existence, and vision.

YU also offers a congregation of some of the most innovative minds in Jewish learning. That may have been more famously known when voices like Rav Soloveitchik's (Rav M. JB, and A) and Rav Lamm's were loudly heard echoing forth from there; but there are significant minds and thinkers teaching and creating there today who in the aggregate make up a unique gathering of Jewish minds.

I'm not sure anyplace in the world genuinely compares to YU for its mission, history, and potential.

But that tuition is real world dollars, isn't it?

no one said...

Go to the Mir yeshiva and learn secular studies between first and second seder and you will be doing better than any yu student-in both Gemara and secular studies. You can argue with this if you like but I am just telling you a well known fact.

Anonymous said...

YU is the only place where you do not have to compromise the "college experience" for religion.
Queens is what it is: a cheap, nice, convenient place to get a degree. Any community that exists only exists outside of it, like in the yeshivas or the neighborhood of KGH. Not much actually happens on campus; the religious students, (with exceptions, of course) generally do not get involved in student government or in any societies. There is little student life on campus-- the dorms are a recent addition, and they aren't exactly big with the religious students. In YU, of course, where most students live on campus, nearly everyone is involved in a club or society. The education continues outside the classroom; I'm sure you yourself Chana would agree that your experience at Stern was deeply enriched by being editor of the paper, appearing in school plays, and the various other activities that I'm sure you participated in.
I spent a year at Queens and transfered to YU. Like I said, Queens has its merits, but the experience of YU far surpassed anything I encountered at Queens.

Anonymous said...

There are a number of differences between Queens and YU aside from price. YU has a dorm life. Many people who go to Queens live at home (yes, I know, some get apartments, and Queens just built a dorm, but the reality is, a lot of Queens College students live at home). That's a huge difference.

My brother went to Queens for a semester and then switched to YU. He used to complain about how he would never see any of his friends if they weren't in his classes because it's a very in-and-out place. You go to class, you go home. That's it. He also missed being in a Yeshiva environment, with rebbeim, shiur, etc. It's just a different environment.

Queens College Student said...

I'm currently going into my junior year at queens college and learn at a yeshiva near by,I'm not sure how learning and the environment at Yu is but If you go to a yeshiva and queens college you have to be really dedicated to your learning to pull it off.Time wise you can easily arrange your schedule so you can learn for a seder in the morning(there are even people who do night seder but it's more the exception than the rule)However of the thousands of jewish male students in queens college probably only 10-20 percent are in yeshiva too.And I can speak from personal experience that it's easy to get pulled away from your learning when you know so many people have it easier than you do and aren't learning. The tuition is slightly higher than you posted after all the fees it comes to $2,543.25 for 12-18 credits but still very cheap and yeshiva will cost anywhere from 4-10K for the year(however there is a new yeshiva called "Hashevaynu" which just opened up last year and is a 7 minute walk from the queens college campus which doesn't charge tuition) but you still come out with a bargain of $15,000 max. People also may choose YU over Queens because Yu gives 32 credits while queens only gives 18(touro gives a max of 48 I believe if you do shana bet)

Yaelle said...

As a Stern graduate, a list of things unique to YU:

1. Themed, on-campus Shabbatonim every single week, complete with lectures, shiurim and other activities.

2. Built-in Judaic studies curriculum where the learning is not just spiritual, but also academic (choose wisely depending on your goals and personality). Everyone from baalei teshuva to the well-versed will find something of interest.

3. Constant shiurim, of every type, without the effort of travel.

4. Growing, ever-changing Jewish campus life.

5. A shomer Shabbos, shomer negiah, kol isha-free Dramatic Society.

6. Summer courses on literature, art and global health that take place in Europe, India and elsewhere--shomer Shabbat & shomer kashrut.

7. Initiatives with a Jewish bent that improve life for Jews, non-Jews, the old, the young, etc.: Social Justice, Student Holocaust Education Movement,

8. Joint BA/MA Jewish Studies program with Revel (YU's grad school for Jewish Studies).

9. If you do well on your SAT, you can get into the Honors Program with a huge scholarship, which makes YU even cheaper than Queens.

10. A more involved Career Development Center than QC (it seems to me, from speaking with one friend of mine from QC. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong).

There are more things to add to this list. If you take advantage of the opportunities available at YU--not just academic, as mentioned in previous comments--it's an experience that simply can't be replicated.

Anonymous said...

Parents wouldn't let me go to Queens.

Eitan Kastner said...

You never would have been editor-in-chief of the Queens Newspaper. I never would have been editor-in-chief of the Queens newspaper. But we both did so at YU.

I never would have gone on an AJWS sponsored alternative break trip to Honduras, you never would have had your influence on the Medical Ethics Society.

A small school like YU gives its students the ability to distinguish itself in a way a larger school do not. Add to that the fact that YU is a shomer mitzvot institution, which means nothing is holding students back from excelling in every realm of the institution

And finally, and most importantly, YU simply offers better academic options for its students then does Queens. Yu has hired over 100 new faculty members in the past few years, beefing up its course options and improving the caliber of its professors. I personally took a number of amazingly worthwhile courses at Yeshiva, and know many others who did as well.

You get what you pay for...Queens will give you a piece of paper at the end, YU gives you an education and an experience.

The Talmid said...

As one who attended neither YU nor QC, let me add my 2 cents.

I attended a catholic university and transferred to a public university while concurrently studying for semicha in a city west of NYC.

I came to campus before my classes started, did my HW, and when my last class of the day was over, I left "ketinok haborei'ach mibeis hasefer," and the rest of the day I focused on learning, without doing or worrying about any schoolwork. When I visited friends at YU during my winter break and YU was still in session, I had no clue if I would have succeeded at YU because being on one campus, how do you separate your time for college/learning? I'm sure many have been successful at that, but I honestly don't know if I would have found a balance.

Some semesters my grades suffered because I had to miss classes on Yom Tov, which wouldn't happen at YU.

Friends have told me how lucky I am to have a close kesher with my rebbi, which, they tell me, is a very rare thing at YU.

The caf my my colleges were traif, and the caf at YU isn't Yoshon, so I couldn't eat at YU either ;-) EXCEPT that YU on Shabbos has Rabbi Josh Hoffman (Netvort) as mashgiach and yoshon food.

Anonymous said...

Other than full scholarship, the only reason I can think of why someone would choose YU over queens is that they want to prolong their highschool experience and badly cripple their social development.

YU and QCs perception/reputation to employers and graduate schools is about a wash, with QC getting the overall edge because many institutions are weary of recruiting from a “yeshiva” college. Anyone who thinks that YU has a better reputation than QC is just drinking the YU koolaid.

harry-er than them all said...

As someone who attended neither institution, nor needs to at this point (im in graduated school as a Yeshiva and college graduate) I would like to say that i think it depends what the options are. If you will be living at home, commuting to yeshiva and then your local college on a daily basis, they I would say YU would be a better option. Because when push comes to shove, you will cut something out of your schedule and chances are it will be the time you are/were koveah for torah. I have seen this with quite a few of my friends who tried it, whether from Madreigas/Shor Yoshuv/YBT/other yeshiva /college options. However, if you are living in the yeshiva, part of its daily life, then a daily commute to college will not hurt you and I would say it would be a better option than YU. Of course this means paying a Yeshiva/dorm tuition in addition to the college one, but it is still considerably less than YU (assuming you did not get a scholarship)

When one makes the decision, you should not only allow finacial considerations to cloud your judgment, because mesiras nefesh to live as a frum torah jew, can also mean spending money on living that life. Of course I do not mean to throw out dollars lightly, and proper personal guidance should be sought for those who want to put the balance in perspective.

Anonymous said...

harry's point is well taken. unfortunately, even when dorming in YU, there are still some students who take the liberty to ditch shiur, as one YU alumnus admitted to me that he had done so while he was pre-med there. at the same time, there are many frum, sincere, and dedicated talmidim in YU. it really boils down to how dedicated the talmid is to the learning....

Anonymous said...

yeshiva University is the 45 best school in the country and 6th best in NY Queens is ranked in the Northeast you can't compare private to public end of story