During the beginning stages of your college search it is helpful to do a self-assessment (or if you are a parent or guidance counselor, an assessment with your child/student) to evaluate to what extent things like national rankings, the availability of various Jewish resources on campus, and other elements of student life matter to you. Doing so will assist you in quickly eliminating schools that do not match your standards and help you determine which of the colleges still under consideration best fit your ideals.
Use the scale below to rate each item on the following list and prioritize those that matter most to you:
- Not at all important
- Slightly Important
- Fairly Important
- Very Important
How important are the following considerations for you (or your child/student)?
The questions beneath each item provide additional details about the issue and can be food for thought in your evaluation. You can also establish which universities match your preferences by asking these same questions to students, recent alumni, school faculty and administration, and Jewish professionals/rabbis on campus.
Affordability, Academics, and Size
___ Attending a top nationally ranked school.
___ Affording school tuition without taking out student loans.
- What is the school’s full tuition for matriculated students?
- What are the housing costs associated with the school?
- What scholarships or honors programs might I qualify for at the school?
- Does the school offer work-study to help pay for the tuition?
___ Attending a large school.
- What is the size of the undergraduate population? How does that compare to other schools?
___ Attending a small school.
___ Attending a school with a specific major or program.
- How is the school’s specific major or program that you are interested in pursuing perceived in the industry?
- How do students in a specific major or program at a particular school compare to other schools in terms of their graduate school acceptance and/or job placement?
___ Attending a school that will help you find internships and jobs.
- What services does Career Services offer? What will they do? What are students expected to do?
- What are some of the noteable jobs/internships students have gotten through Career Services help?
- Does Career Services run any job fairs or invite any companies to recruit on campus? Which companies come?
- How many dedicated (full-time) staff does Career Services have? When are they available to meet with students on my campus?
___ Having a social network of Orthodox peers on campus.
- What is the size of the Orthodox population? How likely are students to meet other Orthodox students?
___ Attending a school with an active Orthodox population.
- Are there Jewish clubs and/or student organizations on campus?
___ Attending a school with an active Sephardic community.
- Are there any Sephardic Torah educators on campus or Sephardic programs?
___ Attending a school with programming and services for Orthodox students.
- Are there organizations on campus like OU-JLIC, Hillel, and/or Chabad?
___ Being a member of an Orthodox community on campus like OU-JLIC where one can celebrate Shabbat and holidays, daven in minyanim, partake in Torah learning opportunities, and meet other Orthodox students.
- Are there kosher Shabbat meals available on campus?
- Is there a regular minyan both on Shabbat and during the week? How many times a day is there a minyan?
- Are there Torah learning opportunities and if so, what type of learning and how often each week?
___ Attending a school with an eruv (demarcated area that allows Jews to carry on Shabbat).
___ Attending a school with a synagogue or beit midrash.
___ Attending a school that is accommodating of Jewish practices such as having shabbat friendly housing, and allows students to reschedule tests or miss classes over holidays.
- What is the size of the Orthodox population? Is the school familiar with the religious needs of an Orthodox student?
- Is there an OU-JLIC Torah Educator or someone else on campus to advocate for Orthodox students?
- What if an Orthodox student has tests, assignments due, or class on chagim? Will the school let the student take the test or hand in the assignment on a different date, or schedule a make-up class ?
- Are students required to be on a university meal-plan during their first year, and does this impact students’ ability to obtain kosher food?
___ Being able to defer acceptance for a gap year program such as in Israel or even receive credits for study abroad in Israel.
___ Attending a school near an Orthodox community.
- How far from campus is the closest Orthodox synagogue?
___ Having access to kosher food.
- Is there only pre packaged or frozen kosher food?
- Is there kosher food available on campus or locally, off-campus, from supermarkets or restaurants? What organization (vaad) provides the hechsher to the restaurant?
- Is there a kosher meal plan on campus?
___ Having a kosher meal plan on campus.
- Is the kosher meal plan part of the university meal plan or is it purchased through Hillel or Chabad?
- What organization (vaad) provides the hechsher to the kosher food? What are their standards? For example, is there a mashgiach tamidi (full time dedicated supervisor)?
- Is lunch and dinner offered everyday on campus? Are there meals on Shabbat and chagim, including Pesach?
- Are a full range of menu options available (vegetarian, allergies, gluten free)?
- How many meals each week are dairy meals? How many meals are meat meals? Are kosher meals fast-food only, or are healthy options available?
- Are there “to go” food options that can be pre-ordered and picked up or delivered on campus instead of eating in the cafeteria?
- If one does not finish all of the money on his/her meal plan, what happens with the extra balance?
- Do students have the option of maintaining their own kosher kitchens in their residence halls or off-campus housing?
- Do students typically participate in the kosher meal plan as upperclassmen?
___ Being able to sit in the cafeteria with friends not eating kosher food.
- Are kosher and not food served in the same cafeteria?
- Are students not on the kosher meal plan allowed into the kosher cafeteria (if there is one)?
___ Having kosher food on campus centrally or conveniently located.
- How far are the kosher food options from areas where Jewish students usually live– both student-housing and private apartments?
___ Living in student housing.
___ Being able to choose a roommate.
- Can one request roommates or does the university assign roommates?
___ Living in a residence hall with other Jewish students.
- Do Orthodox students live in particular residence halls?
- Can Orthodox students request to live on a low floor because they are Shabbat observant?
- Are there Jewish residence halls on campus run by Hillel, Chabad, or another Jewish organization?
___ Living in a single gender residence.
- Are residence halls or specific floors of residence halls single gender?
- Do individual dorm rooms have their own bathrooms or are there communal bathrooms in the hallways? Are these bathrooms single gender or coed? Can a student request a single gender bathroom?
___ Having a kitchen in the residence hall room.
___ Having non-electronic access to the residence hall on Shabbat.
- How do Orthodox students enter and exit the residence hall on Shabbat?
___ Having the residence halls conveniently located near Jewish resources on campus.
- What is the distance between residence halls and Hillel, Chabad, and kosher food on campus?
___ Living in a private apartment.
- Are freshmen required to live in student housing?
___ Being able to enroll in courses in a Jewish Studies Department.
___ Having Israel-oriented activities and/or a Jewish Political Action Committee.
___ Attending a school where you will feel comfortable being Jewish/Orthodox.
- What is the size of the Orthodox Jewish population? Are other students familiar with Orthodox Jews or do they stand out as being ‘different’?
- Do students feel they need to hide their Jewish identity or fear attending Jewish events?
- Has the school or school’s student association passed or attempted to pass any anti-semitic resolutions such as a BDS bill?
- Have any of the school’s professors expressed anti-semitic sentiment?
- As a student, will I have to interact with those professors?
- Have any Jewish students reported acts of violence, verbal or physical harassment, threats, vandalism, discrimination, exclusion, etc, directed against them because of their Jewishness or support for Israel?
- Has the school done anything to address anti-semitic incidents on campus?
- Have there been reports of swastikas or other anti-semitic graffiti drawn anywhere on campus? If yes, what did the administration do and how long did it take them to respond?
- What support is available to students who encounter anti-Semitism on campus?
- Has there been an “Israel Apartheid Week” or “Anti-Zionism Week” on campus? What events occurred during this week?