Demographics and the Picture Shown for Incoming Jewish Freshmen

Hey everyone,

First time using this site so please excuse me for any mistakes that I make while posting this question. I’ve been trying to find research (mostly unsuccessful) about Jewish demographics in top tier colleges to see whether or not the quota for Jewish students made it incredibly competitive for Jewish students or whether they were sought after. I know they have an enormous presence on many top-tier colleges and the common reasoning therefore would be that being Jewish isn’t uncommon, but I still wanted to ask in case anyone had any interesting ideas or follow-ups that they thought could help.

Let me know what you think, this is in no way meant to be a discussion of discrimination or chancing based on ethnicity or religion. I’m sorry if it comes across that way.

There’s a quota for Jewish students? Where did you hear that? How does the college even know what religion an applicant is? I guess there can be some hints in some applications (last name, ECs) but not all. I don’t think it’s any more or less competitive for Jewish applicants than for any other applicant.

There was a pretty insidious Jewish quota in place at the eastern seaboard colleges of the last century and its effects have poisoned discussions of race and ethnicity to the present day. But, most observers would say that it had largely ended by the 1960s. Google “Joining the Club” (1986) or “Jews at Williams” (2013)

I’m not expert on this, but many very selective colleges have hillels and kosher food stations on campus. I noticed you tagged a bunch of highly selective schools, so I assume your child is aiming high. Those colleges will almost certainly have an active Jewish presence on campus. Brandeis could be on the list too. You can research to see how active campus hillels are.

There’s a website called hillel. org, which I can’t link. It seems to give solid numbers of Jewish students, but I don’t know how they get those numbers. There is no space on the application to indicate religion. Unless a student lists church-related activities, I don’t know how the AO knows if a student is Catholic or Jewish. I also think most colleges don’t care about that these days, though maybe I’m being naive.

You should google “Why More Colleges Want Jewish Students” by Inside Higher Ed which is a good overview on why some colleges might be attracting more Jewish students.

Personally, I know Duke is/was trying to attract more Jewish students as Duke is competing with the ivies and similar colleges for the same high stat students. For example Cornell’s Jewish undergrads are about 30% Jewish, UPenn about 18%, Duke on the other hand has “only” about 10%.

Last year Duke’s Dean of Admissions Christopher Guttentag did a “Jewish roadshow” in NY and Los Angeles (the latter which my D attended) and when she applied to Duke she played up her Jewish identify and social action in DC conducted by her synagogue. She also did an optional third letter of recommendation written by our rabbi. Did being Jewish help my D get into Duke? I think it was a small “tip” but certainly not a huge “hook” (e.g. recruiter athlete).

The bottom line is that being Jewish could be a small advantage at certain colleges and conversely might not be an advantage at other colleges that have an over representation of Jewish students.

My last point is that our private college counselor was the one that told us about Duke “courting” more Jewish students and tipped us off when they were coming to our area. This is not something that the general population would know about and another reason why having the right college counselor can make a difference when applying to highly selective colleges.