Hello, Stranger  

Posted by inkstainedhands in ,

It's been a while since I could actually sit down to write a real blog post (apart from the one on Stern College). Well, my only excuse is that this has been one of the busiest months this year for me. It started off with midterms, reached a high point with my best friend's wedding, and is now ending off with even more work and running around to do.

A new exhibit opened at the Yeshiva University Museum recently which celebrates the first ten years in that new building. The exhibit, Zero to Ten, features a lot of awesome pieces from the museum's collection, including the Baal Shem Tov's Torah, a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to a Jew, ancient books, and other pieces of Jewish history. I gave a tour of the museum on Sunday, which was nice and gave me the opportunity to interact with some interesting people who had a lot to add to the conversation. I love hearing everyone's outlook because every individual has his/her own unique perspective based on personal experience. Anyway, I encourage you to check out this new exhibit, as well as the other ones that are up now -- Andi Arnovitz's works and the 16mm Postcards exhibit of pre-war Poland.

In other news, my birthday is later this week -- December 3rd. I've been so wrapped up in day-to-day life that I didn't fully realize how soon it was. Birthday, Chanuka, a truckload of assignments and events at Stern... Yep, life is fun. :]

Mark Your Calendars -- Stern Open House!  

Posted by inkstainedhands in , , ,

STERN COLLEGE is having an open house on November 14th (from 9:15 AM to 2 PM), and I highly encourage anyone in the process of choosing a college to stop by and check it out! It's actually a bit strange thinking about college applications for the next year now because it feels as if I was just there myself. Let's just say that I don't miss the application days and the whole process of planning out the next four years of my life. Now that they're already planned out though, I could not be happier with where I am right now.

There are some girls who know from the beginning which college they want to go to. There are also girls who apply to many different colleges and don't know for sure which one they would prefer. And then, there are girls who know from the very beginning where they want to go and then find their plans crumbling beneath their feet in the face of a new idea. I belong to the third category. For years, I knew that I would be going to Brooklyn College to pursue my English degree. All those plans were overturned in November of 12th grade, when I suddenly decided that I would rather go to Stern and take advantage of its dual curriculum. So whichever category you fall into, I strongly encourage you to visit Stern on the 14th and see if it might be the right place for you. There are opportunities for everyone there, both socially and academically.

First and foremost, I would like to refer you to a comprehensive guide to Stern by a recent alumnus, Chana at The Curious Jew. This is required reading for anyone applying to college, and especially for those who are already considering Stern. I read that post over a couple of times before applying, and I found that it explained so much about all the different aspects of Stern College. Chana also has many posts about the different happenings and classes in Stern, as well as notes from her classes and transcripts of lectures and events.

There are a few things I want to add to Chana's guide.

  • Chana mentioned "the seminary issue" -- she had not spent a year in seminary before going to Stern and others found that surprising and questioned her about it. What I've found is that with each year there is an increase in the number of "true freshmen" such as Chana, who come to Stern immediately after high school. At this point, it is so normal that nobody blinks an eye. Plenty of people have asked me where I was last year, but none of them really reacted when I said that I was in high school. In fact, I was surprised. I had already been expecting the questions and was fully prepared with the answers, but everyone else seemed to accept it and didn't ask any questions. As far as I can recall, only one person actually asked why I chose not to go to seminary. If you wish to come to Stern directly from high school as I did, you do not have to worry about not 'fitting in' or not finding your group. What I've heard from some girls is that they prefer to go to seminary first and find their group there so that they are prepared for the Stern social scene. None of my high school classmates are currently in Stern, and I actually think it's great because it pushes me to go out and meet new friends instead of sticking to my comfort zone. In the course of two months, I've already made many friends and had so much fun with them. So it doesn't matter whether or not you go to seminary; Stern students won't judge you for that. There was just an article in the Observer (Stern's official student newsspaper) on "The Seminary Effect," which is worth a read.

  • Another point I want to bring up is level of religious observance and knowledge. You do not need a strong background in Judaic Studies in order to succeed at Stern. All new students take a written placement exam in Hebrew that determines their level and places them into classes accordingly. During orientation there are also oral placement tests for Torah and Jewish law, where they basically want to see if you can read a verse from the Torah and understand Rashi's question on it and his explanation, and if you can read from a sefer on Jewish law and understand it. No matter what your level, there are amazing classes that are geared toward you. There is the Mechinah/Basic Jewish Studies program for those with a limited background in Judaic Studies. I don't know much about it, but I have a few friends who are part of it, so I can definitely find out more for those who are interested. So whether you come from a Bais Yaakov-type school or a public school or anything in between, there's a place in Stern just for you!

  • There is such a variety of academic programs being offered in Stern. I was surprised to find that Stern apparently has an engineering department, but it just goes to show that there are a lot of different options for students here. If you would like to find out more about the academic departments in Stern, visit the website for a full list of programs and come to the open house, where you can meet professors from different departments and have your questions answered.

  • Another aspect of Stern that I love is the mass of opportunities to get involved on campus. You can start as soon as you begin your college journey, and the sooner you get involved, the more you will enjoy your years at Stern! Getting involved in clubs and events is a great way to meet new people and form everlasting friendships. You can be sure of finding a club that appeals to your interests, whether it is the Creative Writing and Poetry Club (I am also biased because I am a board member :]), the Biology Club, Chemistry Club, Environmental Club, History Club, the Stern College Dramatics Society (which puts on each year a musical in the fall and a play in the spring), Russian Club, Quidditch Club, etc.

  • All of this sounds great, right? But then there is the financial issue.... For some, this ends up being the deciding factor between Stern and a more affordable college. Yes, the tuition at Yeshiva University is high, but there are numerous academic scholarships being offered as well as financial aid. Fill out a FAFSA even if you know you are not eligible for financial aid from the government. YU has a different system of determining who is eligible, so even if you would not get a penny from the government, you could get a considerable scholarship from YU. Also, if your high school average is above 90 and you have SAT scores of at least 1300, you are eligible to be considered for a Dean's Scholarship. You do not have to complete a separate application for it; your marks will automatically put you on the list for a potential Dean's Scholarship. If your SAT scores are 1400 or above, you can apply to be an Honors student and can also get an academic-based scholarship. There are various other scholarships available based on the field you are going into. If you are interested in going into Jewish Education, there is the Legacy Heritage Fund Scholars Program which offers full scholarship support. I have a friend who is in that program, so if you are interested in that and need more information, drop me a line. To find out more information on how to apply for financial aid, click here.

  • One of the amazing things about Stern is that it is located in the heart of Manhattan, providing many cultural and recreational opportunities for students. Theater, music, entertainment, shopping, countless kosher restaurants within a 10-minute radius, and Starbucks on almost every block. There is one particularly lovely one on 34th Street and Park Avenue, where I love to just sit down and write or study or do my work. It is quiet and pleasant and affords chances for people-watching. :] If you are in Stern, take advantage of the location!

If you have any questions about Stern, college life, the application process, or anything else, I would love to tell you whatever I know! Comment here or send me an email at myinkstainedhands [AT] gmail [DOT] com. I would love to hear from you and I hope you find this post useful. Please do come to the open house on November 14th! It should be fun! I have a newspaper deadline the next day as well as a six-page paper due, so I don't know if I will be able to stop by. Let me know if you're planning on being there though and if I have the chance, I would love to come by and meet you and answer any questions. :]