Monday, October 19, 2009

Secular College vs Stern

This is in response to an article written by Rabbi Reuven Spolter over at the Jewish Star blog. He basically argues that sending your child to a secular college endangers his or her orthodoxy.

Wow. Talk about living in a bubble. Talk about a great PR piece for YU. Did they pay for him to write this?

Here's the thing - MO or O kids are only 'in danger' of going 'off the derech' if they're on shaky ground to start with.
That's right - don't start blaming a secular college for your child's troubles. Those troubles start at home.

I go to a secular college. So do or have almost all of my closest friends. We're turning out alright. The ones who are no longer religious often come from homes where the importance of being religious was never properly transmitted.

I think you can tell the difference between someone who went to a secular college versus someone who chose the YU/Stern/Touro route. Having a conversation with someone in Group 2 feels like talking with someone still in high school, who only knows about the world from what Mommy, Daddy and their Morahs have taught them. Because let's face it - YU is basically just an MO high school for older kids. Same people, same cliques, same ideas.

People I know in Group 1 are a far more mature lot. They've been 'exposed' to people of other cultures and opinions. Which is not a bad thing, no matter what your Rebbe has told you. It's good to know about people of different races and religions who are not your cleaning ladies and are not featured on CNN. Socializing with people who are not Jewish and not Orthodox actually strengthened my own identity, my own uniqueness.

I remember having my 'aha' moment in freshman year. I realized that virtually everyone I met 'belonged' to some kind of group, to a community - whether it be the Asian Club or Robotics or the Honors Society. And as much as I maybe would have liked to belong to one of those groups - ok, maybe definitely not Robotics - I never would have fit in. Besides the fact that I could never pass for Korean, lots of those groups had meetings on Shabbos. Which, in a way, is something I'm grateful for. Because it let me realize which group I did belong to.

28 comments:

fakewood inc. said...

that thing that you call high school like is called innocence. I am tired of people bashing the jewish way witch was always to be separate from all the cultures. whenever jews were exposed to other coultures and liked the culture it never ended well.why the need to stern/Yu bash?.

Jessica said...

People who go to a secular college are not any more mature than those who go to a Jew college (and I say that having graduated from a secular college). Maturity doesn't come from being around people from different cultures. The only difference between Jew-college kids and secular-college kids is, like Fakewood said, innocence.

13579 said...

Maidel, don't you live with your parents? That was also recommended in the article.
I think this guy does have a point. I have no doubt that the 25% number is true for those going to school away from home. You say that there may be a shaky background to start with, and I agree with that. But would all of them have gone 'OTD' without college?

NotaGeek! said...

MM, your sooo on the mark with your point. Your opinion is 100% correct on this.... But of course there's always an exception to the rule on both sides..
All of my friends who attended secular over ortho college's, all end saying the same thing. They were happy the choose the secular route, since it truly enlightened them, taught them respect and how to get along with all people...

fakewood inc. said...

not a geek you are a bigot. you think orthodox jews that try to stay in their system are close minded, unenlightened and are disrespectful to other people.

frum single female said...

i dont think that going to a secular college is the only thing that endangers the neshama of a college student. i think that often it just helps along those who are already going in the wrong direction.
that said, i did actually go to touro and im very glad that i did. it was nice not having to worry about tests being given on a yom tov. and yes, it was nice being protected from the outside world just a little bit longer.
the thing is, i went to touro in the city which had a mixture of orthodox and secular jews. it was college. not yeshiva. i also know many who went to stern who were varying degrees of religous. touro flatbush is a bit more isolated from the secular world, but even then why not reap the benefits of being in a frum environment a little longer. the harsh real world will bang at your door soon enough and trust me, then you will wish you were back in the cocoon of a frum jewish college.

NotaGeek! said...

ha, Bigot... Look at who is disrespectful...
The name fake wood applies well to you...
Orthodox jews who put their religion above ethics, honesty, respect to others are the ones I despise... Since, it sayd derch eretz comes before torah..

Anonymous said...

I think this post is very stereotypical. Are, on average, people who went to a secular college more mature than those who went to a religious one? I do not know if that can be so easily determined. I currently attend Touro (flatbush, though I did attend some classes in Touro Manhattan)while most of my siblings went to Brooklyn College. Not only were my siblings not more mature than me at my age, I would go as far to say that I am more mature than they were. That being said, Touro has its pros and its cons, just as every secular college, and every individual should take time to contemplate what school/ enviornment would suit them best.

Anonymous said...

oh, and BTW- all my siblings have remained just as religious as they were before they entered college. I agree with the part of the post that says going otd has more to do with ones personal standing in their religon than college.

13579 said...

Brooklyn and Queens Colleges are good as a gateway into the secular velt. Tons of frum students and teachers, and also non-frum and non-Jewish ones.

fakewood inc. said...

"They were happy the choose the secular route, since it truly enlightened them, taught them respect and how to get along with all people..."

this statement seem to imply that if you go to a jewish college you can not be any of those things.

Obviously i have my issues with certain things that some jewish people do. I just dont lump all of them into one group. That tactic was used by the maskilim long before you and it didnt work for them. It was later picked up by communist russia to slander all jews. so be carefull what you say it may come back and bite you in the ass.

fakewood inc. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NotaGeek! said...

"fakewood" get some sleep, you've obviously had a rough day :)

fakewood inc. said...

nope. i just write like an angry drunk. i am in an excellent mood.

Anonymous said...

Way to generalize.

Maidel said...

are all generalizations false?

fakewood inc. said...

they are not always wrong but these happen to be. you have been exposed to how many people at stern? Yet you make this assumption based on that. I think they are just your warped views on stern.

Jessica said...

"are all generalizations false?
That's a trick question. If anyone answers 'yes' they're automatically wrong because they're making a generalization about generalizations which, as they hypothetically had stated, are ALL false.

ProfK said...

Just a semantics note here. All generalizations are, by definition, opinion statements rather than factual statements. As opinions they can be neither true or false. Therefore, asking if a generalization is true or false has no answer, since true and false do not apply.

Having attended both Stern and three secular colleges, undergrad and grad, and having had children both in Stern and in secular colleges, and having taught at both Touro and at 4 secular colleges in the NYC area, there is no possible way to to say that one type of school produces more mature students than another, no way to say that more students will go OTD in one type of school over the other. Both maturity and OTD behavior is specific to an individual, and there is more going on than just what type of school is attended.

Cheryl said...

Just a few points:
It depends on the person you are before you start school. I went to Stern for a bit and found that it made me more religiously rebellious. I have friends who graduated YU and are no longer Orthodox. I graduated from a secular univ. and lived on-campus and found myself stronger in my beliefs, not weaker.
Also, you guys are all talking about NY area schools as secular - aren't most of you living at home while going to these schools or at least living in the same community you grew up in? I'm not sure that even counts and breaking out of your shelter.

Data said...

I echo Prof K.

Me and my siblings attended various colleges, CUNY ones as well as Touro. I'm sure each establishment has its perks.

For me, if a paper could be done on Judaism, it was an easy A, whereas in Touro I actually would have had to do research on something else.

Individuals differ. For myself, I would say like MM, that I really appreciated my Judaism, thankful every day that I was frum. One also learns about the world's opinion at large, how anti-Semitism still exists (surprise!), and how blessed we are to be living in a free country.

G6 said...

Another point to consider...
If there is behavior that is less than recommended at a secular college, one can chalk it up to the fact that these are not Jews. In a Jewish college, when one is confronted with negative behaviors, they become much harder to dismiss and rise above.

lea said...

I agree with prof K.

It totally depends on the individual.

That being said, another important factor is whether you live on your own, or with your family. If with the family, it is still sheltering, no matter which school ,IMO.

Also, I may get shot down for this, but the idea that Brooklyn College is secular is laughable. Yes, technically is is secular, but being in Brooklyn, and with a sizable frum Jeiwsh student body (and a commuter school), it is not too far from home.

I got accepted to Georgia Tech, and a good friend of mine goes there - I would say that, or any other "real college 'campus'" out of the tri-state area, is a better comparison, than say, CUNY.

DB said...

I just lost a lot of respect for your blog and opinions! Either you were not part of the cliques so you have an axe to grind, or for whatever reason you felt uncomfortable going to an orthodox university or college doesnt give you the right to bash those who enjoy it and thrive there no matter what the circumstances are!

- a YU guy who just transferred to Touro

Maidel said...

The point of this post was not as much to bash YU, as it was to defend those who choose the 'secular' route.

Maybe I did generalize, but there is some truth in my statement about maturity. Kids who go to regular colleges gain a much larger understanding and sense of the world than YU kids - because the truth is that you don't realize that you're actually part of a minority when you're surrounded by people exactly like you.

The reason I didn't go to Stern was purely academic - I got into a much better school. And I stick by that choice. Isn't that the point of college? To get the best education possible.

DB said...

you are for sure in barnard or penn... and went to mmy/brovenders hahaha

i know a bunch of pguys at leats who got into ivy leagues and graduated from YU Honors who are just as well off with anyone who went to those other schools.

I hear what your saying but i think calling it a high shcool is also a slightly immature way of getting your point across!

Are there ppl like that in YU of course... im from chicago and i know cliques of people that go to U of I together...

Also... where do you get off equating maturity with "opening your eyes" to other cultures and people! I know some very mature and bright individuals who dont give a crap about the rest of the world and they are doing quite alright for themselves!

I DO NOT understand this obsession with some to get out of the ghetto! Whats so bad being in a bubble? I enjoy being around like minded people with whom i share all my traditional values and have everything in common! ---look fwd to discussing this more so wont write everything now! :)

Cheryl said...

Also, you can go to a secular university and still live in a bubble. That's pretty much what I did - went to Univ. MD, lived in my own apt. with orthodox roommates and hung out at Hillel. 85% of my friends were frum like me.
I think the point of this discussion is that everyone handles situations differently and there isn't 1 way that works for everyone.

Bilingual said...

It's all been said, but my experience was that my Yiddishkeit was stronger while I was in secular college, surrounded by people who knew nothing about Yiddishkeit at all. I stood for something, and I was proud of it.

You know what started threatening my emunah? Marrying into the kollel world. Of course, I don't think that kollel destroys emunah, only that I found it harder to be proud of my beliefs among people who had the same beliefs and yet were not really like me.