Wealthy Jewish families are rejecting the Ivy League for ‘Plan B’ schools
By Rikki Schlott | November 27, 2023, 5:15 p.m. ET
If you want to improve your kid’s chances of getting into an elite university — and you can afford it — it certainly doesn’t hurt to start donating major cash to the school as early as possible.
But some wealthy Jewish families who have done just that at schools like Harvard and Columbia, sometimes beginning when their children were in first grade, are now writing it off as a loss.
Following an explosion of pro-Palestine rallies and anti-Israel sentiment in the Ivy League, some families of high-school seniors are crossing the schools off their application lists.
“They’re not paying a single dollar more to the schools,” college admissions consultant Christopher Rim told The Post. “They don’t want to be associated with these schools. They are totally out.”
Rim, who is the founder of Command Education, said people are changing their minds last minute this application cycle.
“It’s top of mind for the current seniors,” Rim said. “They’re asking to edit and refine their college lists now.”
“Jewish families’ biggest concern is really about how the administrations didn’t react to protect all of their students,” Rim told The Post. “Private schools in more conservative parts of the country, like Wash U [in St. Louis], Emory [in Atlanta], SMU [near Dallas] and Vanderbilt [in Nashville] are popular choices as a Plan B.”
One of his clients just dropped their dream school of Columbia from the application list after three and a half years of consultations.
“That was the only school that the student wanted to go to,” Rim said. “But now, after everything that’s happened on campuses, this family is like, ‘You know what, we don’t want to go to any Ivy.’”
Instead, they’ve opted to apply to Emory and Washington University, even though Rim says he fully expects this student could get into Columbia or Harvard. The change of plans was so last minute that Rim and the student had to scramble to write entirely new essays ahead of a November 1 early-application deadline.
The move came after a video of Columbia Business School professor Shai Davidai warning Jewish families about campus anti-semitism went viral online.
“I want this message to get to every parent who sent their kids to Columbia University and entrusted their kids and their children’s safety to us,” Davidai declared during a pro-Israel rally on campus. “I want you to know one thing: We cannot protect your child.
“If my amazing 2-year-old daughter was now eighteen years old, I would never, never send her to Columbia.”
Rim said that another Jewish client from California is ditching their dream of studying hotel management at Cornell in favor of the local UC system.
He has also had former clients resurface, asking him to help them transfer schools after experiencing anti-semitism on their campus.
One student, who Rim helped secure a spot at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business last year, is now applying to transfer next semester and considering the University of Southern California. The move comes after anti-semitic messages were projected onto campus buildings at UPenn.
“Wharton was a dream school just a few months ago. He was thriving and happy. But now it’s just not worth it,” Rim said. “He couldn’t stand being there. He didn’t feel comfortable.”
The boycott of Ivy League schools is so severe that parents are growing concerned that this new slate of “Plan B” schools will become more competitive than ever, Rim added.
He said the unprecedented rush is ultimately a consequence of administrative failure: “Part of the university’s job is to provide a space where all students can thrive, even if they have disagreements and different viewpoints.
“But once it comes to something that’s anti-semitic or something that’s dangerous, the university should step in and say something. Yet so many haven’t.”
Originally published on The New York Post on November 27, 2023