Picking the Right College:
Maryland Hillel Student Shares
What to Look For

By Samantha Ebner, University of Maryland, College Park 

Samantha Ebner

When choosing which college to attend, there are many factors to consider. As a Jew, an important criterion is the Jewish involvement on campus, which can be expressed through many channels.  

Jewish organizations provide Jewish students with the ability to easily meet other Jews. Hillel, Chabad and MEOR are popular Jewish centers found on many college campuses. They promote Jewish life by hosting events such as Shabbat and holiday meals, prayer service, and weekly activities, which are settings where Jews connect.  

Students who show up to their respective Jewish organizations gain inevitable friendships through the familiar faces they see weekly. It is easy to form relationships with other Jews because the shared religion enables instinctive feelings of closeness.  

It is critical for prospective Jewish students to consider how active the Jewish organizations are on campus in order to ensure that there will be people with similar backgrounds and values at that college. 

Jewish life on campus can also be found through extracurricular clubs that focus on Judaism or Israel. Jewish and Israel advocacy clubs are generally comprised of people that work to encourage Jews meeting other Jews. Jewish and Israel clubs allow Jewish students to build their community through constant interaction with one another.  

One should consider how active and vast clubs on campus that promote Judaism or Israel are in order to ensure that there will be like-minded people at the college they are contemplating. Furthermore, because Jewish holidays often conflict with classes, it is critical to ask current college students how their professors have handled their religious observance.  

While professors may differ in their make-up criteria, it is important to be in an inclusive, understanding environment in order to feel welcome in the class and comfortable with the professor.   

Another reason that active Jewish organizations are vital to Jewish students is because in the event that a professor gives a hard time about missing class due to a holiday, the organization will step in to support the student. Antisemitic and anti-Zionistic activity on campus differs among schools. Therefore, one should look into how often and prevalent cases against Jewish students occur.  

If and when antisemitic or anti-Zionistic efforts occur at colleges, prospective students should also consider how the school responds. Jewish students should choose a college that will support and defend their beliefs because one should never go to a place that disregards or undermines their values.  

Vibrant Jewish organizations and Jewish or Israel related clubs are important to one’s overall college experience because they facilitate Jewish gatherings, which enables one to make friends easily and feel among a larger community.   

Samantha is involved with Maryland Hillel. 

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