By: Deborah Coopersmith  | 

We Asked, Y(O)U Answered: To Finish in Three or To Not Finish in Three… That is the Question

Dr. Noam Wasserman, Dean of the Sy Syms School of Business, recently penned a Commentator article encouraging students to stay at Yeshiva University for more than three years. For this article, The Commentator reached out to the student body to see how long they plan to study at YU, why they chose the number of years they did, whether their college experience was productive, and, if offered the hypothetical choice to start over college, whether they would choose to attend YU again. The responses of six students are provided below. 

Tamara Kahn (SCW ‘21)

Major: Biology 

“I will be graduating in three years. I entered Stern as a sophomore due to my gap year in Israel and I arrived with many AP credits under my belt. Also, unlike many undergraduate students, I had already decided on my major and career path (dentistry). I saw no reason to spend an extra year of time and tuition at YU if I could finish my credits in three years, with no summer classes. I enjoy my time here and I am appreciative of the ways it is helping me prepare for my future.

“I would not stay at YU for an extra semester or year, because that would delay my dream of attending dental school and becoming a dental professional. While I don’t view college as a stepping stone to graduate school, I know I made the most out of my time at YU. I will be ready for the next chapter of my life when I graduate.

“YU has taught me all of the prerequisite course information for my graduate education, as well as effective study skills which I will be sure to use in the years to come. At YU, I have been awarded many research, leadership and team opportunities, whether in clubs, team sports or volunteer experiences. This has promoted my academic and ‘real world’ growth. The only ‘real world’ growth experience I didn’t have at YU was the ability to create acquaintances and friendships with non-Jewish students, as students at other colleges do. Nevertheless, the benefits of attending a Jewish college outweigh any disadvantages, so I am more than satisfied with my experience at YU.

“I would still choose YU if I could redo college. At YU, I play on and lead an NCAA sports team, even while wearing a skirt. I could be the president of a club, have leadership roles, form bonds with professors and have numerous opportunities that I could not get elsewhere. I am able to practice my Judaism without struggle and was always in an environment that fostered continued growth.”

Marlene Levy (SCW ‘22) 

Major: Psychology 

“I am finishing YU in three years. I went to Israel for a gap year and I, as a result, only need six semesters on campus to fulfill my major requirements. I wouldn’t stay for extra time because there is no need to academically, and the tuition is high for no reason.

“I don’t think I learned employable skills from YU. I think I learned real-world skills in the internships that I’ve worked in. However, I would choose YU again because it offered me the ability to graduate within three years and fulfilled my desire to go to a Jewish private school.”

David Schmidt (SSSB ‘21) 

Major: Marketing 

“I will complete my college experience in three years. The main concern that played into this decision was the cost of the university. If YU was free, I would never leave. While I would stay if I could, the cost of a year of YU is just not manageable, especially when already in debt from the last three years. 

“Syms [Business School] pairs many class projects with real companies. This provides real-world experience as our proposals are evaluated by people who work in the fields we hope to enter. Unfortunately, skill-wise, it all depends on taking the right teachers because some of them taught me nothing and confused me even more. 

“I would choose YU again. I wholeheartedly believe that the 6.5 hours of daily learning has made it all worth it.”

Zachary Greenberg (Sy Syms ‘21)

Major: BIMA and Finance

“I am finishing YU in 3 years and I wouldn’t stay an extra semester at YU during COVID. 

“YU taught me how to be a much better communicator, writer, leader, and organizer. The technical skills I learned are R programming, SQL, Excel, and Python. Half of my courses did not help me towards my future "job", but about half did, which I consider to be a win. Overall, you go to college to learn and enjoy campus life, which I thankfully had the opportunity to do.”

“If I'm being honest, I probably would choose YU again. However, I am not sure I would if I was starting during COVID-19. The best part about YU is the campus life and if I had to do the first year online, it would be a tough sell for me to start at YU. But, under normal years, I would 100% go to YU. Best school ever.”

Matthew Shilat (YC ‘21)

Major: Political Science 

“I will be graduating in four years. I originally did not know that I could finish in three, but when I figured out I could, I changed plans. However, some bad guidance from Academic Advising forced me to take an additional semester beyond my four years.

“I have greatly enjoyed my time at YU, but I am not interested in learning here for another year. The cost of YU and the inconvenience caused by multiple offices are the main reasons why.

“I am learning what I need to lead my life. Not only have I learned the academics that I need for my field, but also where I fit in Judaism and how to deal with apathetic superiors.

“I would absolutely choose YU again. While there are things I do not like about YU and things I would have done differently, the benefits that I have received from YU academically, socially and spiritually are well worth it.”

Benji Halpern (SSSB ‘21)

Major: Accounting 

“I am graduating in three years. Tuition, finishing on schedule, family pressure, social pressure and not wanting to get left behind by my friends have all played into that decision.

“I would delay my graduation if I could, as I felt rushed to choose a major coming in from Israel as a sophomore. Having an extra semester/year to flesh out my interests would have been great, but I guess having my time in yeshiva helped with that too.

“Honestly, it’s hard to say what employable skills I learned. Everyone in accounting says ‘you learn everything on the job, anyway.’ Since every accounting firm does things their own way with their own software, putting a greater emphasis on learning Excel and other softwares would have been great.

“My gut reaction is to say I would choose YU again, but I would definitely do a solid amount of things differently.”

Editor’s Note: There were many responses that were not included in the column. Most students wrote that their financial position played a major role in deciding how long they should study at YU. Many were grateful for the leadership opportunities accessible to them in YU and enjoyed countless opportunities for Jewish growth and development. Thank you to everyone who responded to the survey!

Photo caption: At YU, students are offered a choice: whether to study for three years or four.
Photo Credit: Yeshiva University