Why People Still Choose YU: A Closer Look at the YU Open House
On Sunday, November 22, prospective students and their families from across North America were welcomed to Yeshiva University’s Wilf Campus to participate in the annual fall open house. College-bound students, many joined by their parents, experienced Yeshiva College life for a day by exploring the campus, attending informative events on Torah, academics, and student life and even getting a taste of Yeshiva’s various culinary options.
After speaking with several students and their parents about their open house experience, I received enthusiastic feedback. Many parents are alumni of Yeshiva and expressed pride in the fact that their children were considering Yeshiva University for their own higher education.
Others, however, offered a more reserved response and said they were “just checking it out.” Regardless, Yeshiva’s one-of-a-kind dual curriculum remains unmatched by any other institution in the United States which is a significant factor to consider.
Although prospective students were generally optimistic, many parents raised legitimate concerns regarding Yeshiva’s high tuition rates as for many, tuition is a deal breaker. While speaking to a father and son at the open house, they informed me that they perceived the financial aid meeting as the most important part of their visit.
The university administration strongly feels that YU will maintain its ability to offer financial support to any family that seriously lacks the means of paying tuition. On the day of the open house, I held a brief, yet informative discussion with President Richard Joel. During our discussion, President Joel informed me that around 90% of the students that attended Sunday’s open house were either seriously considering YU or were already committed to it. For the other 10%, President Joel explained, YU did not hold a high priority. I was also informed that out of roughly 3,000 college-bound seniors attending Jewish high schools across the country, only about 650 of them (about 22%) have YU on their immediate radar.
Tuition certainly plays a significant role in these numbers, however, it’s not the only contributing factor to the low percentage of yeshiva high school students considering YU. Misinformation pertaining to Yeshiva University’s financial standing has been prevalent for many months and specifically escalated around the time of the Einstein-Montefoire deal. However, President Joel made it quite clear that YU will not allow tuition to get in the way of a Yeshiva University education. Funds for academic scholarships are scarce, and the chances of YU offering any student a “free ride” based on merit is currently slim. Nevertheless, those who really need the tuition breaks will continue to receive appropriate discounts.
The financial concerns extend further than tuition. Many students and parents fear that the quality of education at Yeshiva will suffer as a direct consequence of recent budget cuts. President Joel debunked this assertion as well by stating that “there is no evidence to show that budget cuts have affected or will affect the overall academic experience of a Yeshiva University student.” I can testify to that myself, as after starting at YU a year and a half ago, I have yet to see any way in which my academic experiences have suffered. The only appreciable change that has occurred thus far was the exclusion of first year seminar from the YC Core curriculum. Most people would agree, however, that their overall experience has in no way been negatively affected by recent financial events.
The crowds that gathered on Sunday served as a testament that Yeshiva University remains an excellent choice for prospective students. Our school offers something unique that other institutions cannot easily replicate. Students and parents alike continue to recognize the tremendous impact that our Torah U’Madda institution has on the greater Jewish community and consequently, many would agree that YU is worth every penny.