Post high school yeshiva applications

I’ve been meaning to update here with what’s going on with ds17, but I’ve been waiting for something definite to share, which hasn’t happened.

Here’s the story:  ds thought he was going to a yeshiva in CT, and was already telling people that’s where he was going.  When he went there at the end of May (or was it the beginning of June?), he didn’t find it the environment he was looking for, and I was extremely disturbed at the lack of organization shown by the administration, which was literally incomprehensible to me.  I’ve debated whether to describe what happened during his trip or not, but I’ve decided to leave it at that.  I spoke to key people there afterward to let them know they lost a great young man as a result of their disinterested approach to his visit.  I had one particularly long and interesting in which I was told “wake up and smell the coffee”, that my son is unusual because he’s so sheltered and I’m not going to find a place that meets my criteria.  (My unrealistic criteria: a place where most of the young men attending are serious about Torah learning, not into shtick, and a supportive and warm environment where each person is treated as an individual.  Also wanted a place that was accredited and could grant college credits.)  They were very nice but it wasn’t what we were looking for.

Then I decided to forget about warm and supportive, and just go for a strong learning environment.  Off we went to Ner Israel in Baltimore (I mentioned that we had sent in the application).  Everyone who knows ds and the institution had absolutely no doubt he’d be accepted.  It took three weeks to get an answer, and I was finally told “We have an arrangement with our high school that we do not accept students who have not had the equivalent of 12 years of a normal limudei kodesh background, under normal circumstances.”  The suggestion was made that “After completing the equivalent of the 12th grade limudei kodesh in a yeshiva high school, could he be considered for admission to the beis medrash for the following year.”

This response didn’t bring a smile to my face (actually, it raised my hackles).  I responded that ds had a normal Judaic background, under the tutelage of his father rather than school administrators.  I mentioned that after ten years in kollel (full time Torah study for married men) at well-known and respected institutions that included the Mir and Lakewood, dh was certainly capable of overseeing this and I found it incomprehensible that my son had the same status as someone who was coming from public school might.  Since I was told in that same email that exceptions are only made for students who are head and shoulders above their same age peers (why would he want to attend this  institution if he were way above their level?), or those who returned to Judaism at a later age.   I asked if they’d be willing to considered him a year from now when he is officially the same age as most other high school graduates (18) if he doesn’t attend high school for an additional year, and inquired how many years it would take before my son would have the same enrollment status as those older returnees.  No answer.

Well.  It may be a fine institution but they’ve made it crystal clear that dealing with each person as an individual isn’t their strength.  I think of it like this, and ds feels the same way:  We weren’t told ‘no’.  We were told, ‘There’s something much better coming soon.’  I’m so glad to have been clearly shown why this wasn’t the right place for ds.  There is an option we’re looking into now, and assuming the application process goes smoothly, he’ll travel to NY for his interview on Aug. 10.  (These travel costs and application fees have been putting a serious dent in our budget!)  Ds has a very good feeling about this yeshiva, and for a number of reasons, so do I.  I’ll let you know what happens on that front once we have some closure!


13 thoughts on “Post high school yeshiva applications

  1. Wow… that really must have felt like a slap in the face. B”H you and your husband are so grounded and have passed that on to your children. Sounds like your son handled it very well. I totally agree with you that it simply means something better and more kedai is in store for him. Keep us posted, we’ll be thinking good thoughts in the meantime.

  2. I’ve got no knowledge of how yeshivot work in the US since I never lived there, but can I say I was beyond shocked to read the responses you got. I worked at the hesder yeshiva where dh learned and saw all the potential students coming in. They were many many different kids, from different background (none from homeschooling- it is Israel after all, but we did have some very special cases) Bottom line was always: if the student is showing a willingness to learn, seems to have normal social skills and has at least some kind of level, he’s in. (the yeshiva is considered one of the leading ones in the hesder yeshivot).
    Slightly different, but still on the same issue, my cousin felt that 12th grade was a lot of wasted time so he applied at the local hesder yeshiva which gives the option for motivated young men as himself to enroll as first year students while going to high school when needed to complete matriculation (in accordance with his high school).
    Nothing to compare to the responses you got.
    I feel for you and your son. Hope it will end up being for the best.

    1. Nathalie– It is Israel, and there are plenty of homeschoolers here, too! You should start seeing applications from them in about another 5 years, as the first large wave of Israeli homeschoolers grows up.

      Avivah– !!!!!!!!! When policy replaces humanity, you know there’s a problem. I wonder how they interpret the medrash about the inns of Sdom…

  3. Oh my gosh–how frustrating for all of you….Sounds like two places lost out on admitting a very special (and well-prepared!) student. Wishing you hatzlacha on finding the right place.

  4. Ugh! This irks me so much! I know it is all from Hashem and ultimately your ds will end up at the right place for HIM. I hate the mentality that something is only good if done the establishment way.

  5. I agree that somewhere better awaits him!!! But how frustrating……..
    Iam not surprised though, most of these institiutions will take literally anyone who “has been through the system” no matter what their level of learning , issues etc; they are very loyall to and hooked on their “system”. I am encountering this attitude lately from many different people with regards to my older kids…….
    unfortunately, they are missing out on really good kids who want to learn, can learn and can think for themselves etc; and for some reason they don’t seek these kids out…..their loss :(

  6. There is certainly no reason to continue to pursue a Yeshiva that shows no interest in your son, anymore than there would be reason to chase around someone for marriage who is uninterested.

    That said, I really do hope that you will take the time to officially express your thoughts on the response of the administration through some official channels (I’m not sure what those would be, but perhaps a letter should be mailed to each administrator and each Board Member?) for the sake of all qualified students to receive a chance at having their application considered. There will always be students that have not received their education under “normal circumstances”. The message I get from non-consideration is that such students should freeze on the roof a la our sage Hillel. But maybe I am just in a bad mood.

    1. Shoshana – it didn’t feel like a slap in the face to me, because it’s obvious it’s nothing personal.

      Nathalie – “Bottom line was always: if the student is showing a willingness to learn, seems to have normal social skills and has at least some kind of level, he’s in.” That’s exactly what people were telling us during the three week period when we weren’t getting much of a response from the communication. It would be nice if middos and desire to learn were more important than beaurocracy, but such is life!

      I think your comment touched the heart of their policy – many high school boys feel they’re wasting time and would like to move on to something that is meaningful to them. I wonder how much a part this plays in the establishing of their school policy – perhaps this ensures that young men don’t see someone doing what they want to do and then complaining about not being able to have it. I don’t know.

      Ellen – I’m really not too frustrated at their response, actually. I really feel like it’s their loss and our gain. What was frustrating was trying to get an answer from them and the seeming impossibility of speaking to a live person – after waiting a week after sending in the application, I finally called to confirm that it was received. It took another week after that until I got an answer that the application was there. As far as the first place, they would have been delighted to have him but we weren’t interested – so they lost out not because of rigid policies, but because they dropped the ball in every possible way.

      Dina – that’s exactly what bothered me about this, the insistence on doing things ‘by the book’ even when there’s no benefit to doing so, other than preserving the status quo (which I understand is an important value to some people).

      Gilla – it’s laughable but true that so many kids who aren’t too super can get into yeshivos because they’ve been through the system. My ds dislikes when I say something positive about him publicly so I try to avoid it, but honestly, he could run circles around a bunch of them in terms of character and true desire to be a ben Torah and to learn. If those things don’t matter as much as where you did or didn’t go to school, then there is a mismatch between our values and theirs. I don’t have a lot of patience for playing games and to me, that’s what this is about. So I’m happy to move on to deal with people I can communicate with who are interested in my child as a person, not as a piece of paper. Just wait until we get into shidduchim!

      Ortho – while I felt it was worthwhile to speak to the administration of the first yeshiva and share my feedback because I felt it would be of value to them, I don’t have a sense that there’s any openess there. I get the sense that having a policy in place is enough of a reason to continue doing what they’re doing. Trying to communicate with them until now has been very much like banging my head against a brick wall, and I feel it would be a waste of time to try to say anymore.

      I don’t look at all of this too emotionally – they have their target student, and that includes a certain background that ds doesn’t have. Fine. That’s their priority and they’re entitled to accept who they want. They’ve made clear this is their policy and they have no interest in changing it. It’s true that there will be always those who have a non-traditional background, and one day I’m sure someone will come along who will be better suited to work with them in gaining admittance. Maybe someone who is academically head and shoulders above his peers, like they said.

  7. That is frustrating – that you were “wasting time” because you thought it was an option when you could have been told earlier that it WASN’T.

    Pardon me for asking, but is it for THIS coming school year?

    1. The application was for the Elul zman, which begins in mid August. It was the wasting of time when the coming zman begins so soon that was frustrating – I would have expected an accelerated response as a result. But it all works out, since the NY yeshiva starts later and the official round of interviews are on Aug. 10, so even though I feel a little behind the eight ball on this, the administration of yeshiva no. 3 doesn’t have the same perception.

  8. I am sure that there is a yeshiva out there that meets your son’s criteria. You just need to find it! Hatzlacha raba! Just wondering though–what do all the other home-schooled boys do when they want to go to yeshiva? Surely there must be someone else who has gone down this road before you? Also, does NI have any experience with students from the homeschool community?

    1. Hi, Rivka! The challenge is this is charting very lonely waters since there are very few frum boys in the country that have homeschooled through the high school years. So very few yeshivos have personal experience with home educated students.

  9. I have had to accept a lot regarding the “system” as my son moved from 7 years of homeschooling into the yeshiva world. My head hurts from holding it sometimes and my tongue is sore from biting it. I do this because my son wants it so much.

    In mesivta I had to keep reminding the menahel that ds was hschooled because he didn’t have quite the background as most bochurim. That really did help a lot. The menahel is learning with him everyday this summer to make 10th grade smoother, IY”H.

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