How Important Is Jewish Student Life to You?

How Important Is Jewish Student Life to You?

By Mark Fisher |

Seniors, the time has come to apply to college. What aspects of prospective colleges have you researched?

Mark L. Fisher
Mark L. Fisher

Perhaps some of these factors: academic life, including your primary major of interest, average class size, student faculty relationships and special programs; campus life, including the distance from home, academic facilities, athletics (especially top football teams in the South) and housing choices; and the student body, including undergraduate enrollment, the academic ability of the students and the acceptance rate to graduate schools.

Of course, parents are concerned about the financial aspects of college, including the availability of financial aid — both need-based and merit scholarships.

For Jewish students, another major factor is Jewish life at the college. If college is an environment for exploration, are you the student ready to explore your Judaism?

Let me share a story from my experiences.

I was riding on the subway in New York, and a young man sitting next to me was dressed Jewishly (black hat, black suit) right after we got on the train in a heavily Jewish area of Brooklyn.

I introduced myself, including my Atlanta residence, and the gentleman told me he had graduated from a college in Atlanta. I asked where, and he said Emory.

I continued: Were you active in Hillel or Chabad? Did you go to a synagogue in Toco Hills?

“No way, never,” he said. Yet after graduation he became an observant Jew.

I thought to myself that he wasted four years of his Jewish life by not taking any Judaic courses at Emory or going to any Shabbat services.

Let’s find out how important Jewish matters are to you.

Every student has different concerns about Jewish aspects of college and attaches different degrees of importance to them. Decide whether each of the following areas is very important, important, mildly important or not important to you.

A good idea would be to discuss the results with your family.

Jewish organizations:

  • Hillel, Chabad.
  • Group representing your stream of Judaism.
  • Pro-Israel action group.
  • Jewish fraternity or sorority.
  • Kosher meal plan.

Courses and programs:

  • Jewish history.
  • Hebrew.
  • Modern Israel.
  • Holocaust studies.
  • Junior year or gap year in Israel.


  • Size of Jewish community.
  • Local synagogue.
  • Hospitality for Shabbat and holidays.
  • Sukkah.
  • Passover seder.
  • Jewish Federation interested in college life.
  • Hebrew school teaching opportunities.

Jewish students:

  • Number of Jewish men.
  • Number of Jewish women.
  • Number of students who observe Shabbat.
  • Active Jewish student body.
  • Absence of substantial BDS group.
  • Little or no anti-Semitism.

Religious services:

  • Friday night.
  • Saturday morning.
  • Havdalah.
  • Daily minyan.
  • High Holidays.
  • Festivals.

I have presented workshops on college admissions and Jewish concerns at synagogues and to youth groups around the country. If you’re interested in more information, call me at 404-964-4544.


Mark Fisher is a college and career consultant at Fisher Educational Consultants ( and a consultant for the College Planning Institute (

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