From the President’s Desk: YSU — Chanukah: A Time for Reflection

Date: December 18, 2016 7:09 am
Author: Jacob Herenstein

More and more over my past few years here at Yeshiva University, I have noticed the various message boards across all social media platforms that pertain to Yeshiva University. Most of the posts that I notice are complaints. People are complaining about how something is wrong with YU, or how our school has no money, or how the administration does not care about the school.

These are statements that, besides not being true, have no basis behind them. The only backings people have for this rhetoric are the different rumors and articles that are published by outside media outlets about how YU has sold properties, or how YU is millions of dollars in debt, or that the administration takes salary increases while its faculty does not, or that YU does not have a true interest in its student body.

I think that, in life, people like complaining for the sake of complaining, rather than actually looking at the positive aspects of any scenario. We are not looking at the glass as half-full; rather, we are viewing the glass as half-empty. I try to advocate to people as much as possible that if they would take a step back and open their eyes to what they have in life, they would be amazed at the abundance of good that they have. I think the same can be said about Yeshiva University.

Yeshiva University is a relatively small university, with students in all undergraduate and postgraduate programs totaling under 7,000 students, and just about 2,000 students in the various undergraduate programs. By comparison, Touro College and Columbia University have more than 7,000 students in their undergraduate programs alone. New York University has nearly 6,000 students just in their Freshman class. The Fashion Institute of Technology has nearly 10,000 students, Baruch College has almost 19,000, and Hunter College has over 23,000.

Yet, despite the small number of students that Yeshiva University has, we have so many amazing amenities that many of the above listed schools do not have. Other universities of similar sizes–and in some cases, bigger ones as well–do not have nearly as many amenities and services that we offer. The services that we have at Yeshiva University are tremendous compared to other universities. We are so used to many of these amenities and services that we sometimes take them for granted. Here are some of the services, amenities, and benefits that Yeshiva University offers its students:

1. We have two undergraduate campuses, four postgraduate campuses, and two high school campuses. Most schools do not have this many campuses. This allows for students of the different programs to be able to interact more with the other students in their own program. Additionally, it allows for students to be able to use resources from the other campuses.

2. We have a tremendous Judaic faculty and an array of Roshei Yeshiva, both of which allow every student to pick a religious path that suits him or her best. On top of that, the amount of Minyanim on all campuses totals over 60 per day, and there are many different Kosher food options. The ability to have such flexibility and comfortability in one’s Judaism is something that is not always offered on other campuses.

3. We have a career center that places hundreds of students each year in top jobs around the world, in all different fields. From accounting firms to investment banks, from hospitals to software companies, the Career Center is successful in helping students apply to jobs, build their resumes, prepare for their interviews, and get settled once they get a job.

4. For students who plan on going to postgraduate school, we have advisement teams that assist over 90% of students in getting into their school of choice–a number that is twice the national average. Additionally, these advisement teams help students through the entire process–from applications to essays to selecting schools.

5. We have a health center that caters to the needs of every student on campus, with psychologists, doctors, and social workers whose sole job is to help students. This is one of the most underutilized services on campus, and is something that can come in handy. Whether you are stressed about work, or have personal issues you want to share with someone, the Health Center is there to help every student on campus.

6. We have dormitories that are within a few blocks of each campus. Many universities do not have dormitories that are as close to academic buildings as are ours. Even other universities and colleges in New York City, where campus sizes are much smaller, do not always have university housing as close to campus as we do. On top of that, our annual dormitory fees are less expensive than any other college in New York City.

7. Yeshiva University offers on average over $20,000 per student each year on merit-based and financial-based scholarships. In addition, over 85% of students receive some form of financial assistance. The average university in the United States offers $12,740 per student in aid each year. This is something which Yeshiva University takes pride in, knowing that it will do whatever it can in order to make college affordable for its students.

8. We have 16 NCAA and other teams that compete with other colleges and universities. Most schools of our size do not have nearly that many teams, especially schools outside of Division I. Not only do we compete, but we win in many of these sports.

9. We have a student-to-teacher ratio of 12:1, which is low compared to the national average of 18:1. This allows for a more personal connection with professors, and gives an opportunity to really build a connection with the faculty.

These are just a few of the many things that make Yeshiva University unique. YU is not at all a bad university; rather, the student body–myself included–takes these services for granted, and does not take the time to appreciate it. If we take the time to realize how many opportunities we have here at Yeshiva University, we will slowly learn how great of a school we attend.

As a senior, I start to reflect on the past few years. I look back, and realize all the amazing opportunities I have had at Yeshiva University. I have made friends that will last a lifetime; I have gotten a tremendous academic education; I have been able to continue my learning that I developed in my few years at Yeshivat Sha’alvim; I have gotten full-time offers from various real estate firms; and I have been able to get involved on campus in many different roles. All of these accomplishments are directly due to the opportunities given to me by Yeshiva University. I am very confident that this list is very similar for many of you as well.

My advice to you–the student body–is as follows: do not spend all of your time bashing Yeshiva University on social media and in person. Rather, take the time to appreciate all that YU has given each and every one of us: a fantastic education; amazing extracurricular clubs, events, and activities; a tremendous job placement program; an amazing Judaic learning experience; and many other benefits that many schools do not offer.

Yeshiva University does all of this because they care about us, the students. YU is the flagship for Modern Orthodoxy in the United States, and possibly even the world. YU is leading us to become the next generation of Jewish leaders in the world, and they want us to shine in the world. They want every student to be the best he or she can possibly be, and that is why they offer all that they do.

If you take anything out of this, make it the following: if you take advantage of what Yeshiva University offers instead of looking down at what they do not, your time here will be one you will never forget. College is known to be the best years of one’s life, and it only happens once. Do not spend your time trying to nitpick everything, or you will never be satisfied. Rather, just take in all that YU offers and enjoy it, and I guarantee you will have a much greater time!

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This post was written by Jacob Herenstein

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