One of Ten and 18th Best

This is a period when American students begin applying for admission to some of the 4,000 colleges and universities. It is a time of excitement and tension from the time the application is first mailed and the many months later when a decision has been sent to them.

My 18 year old grandson who lives in New York had applied to five universities. His first choice was Cornell University in an upstate New York region of mountains and lakes in a city called Ithaca. He was impressed with their facilities and faculties and he applied for admission to the department of environmental engineering.

It is a new term for me and I am trying to understand it. Mainly it deals with environmental pollution and water supplies, training students to become engineers to resolve problems of our planet. My grandson, Ariel, hopes to put his training into good use in Israel.

I began reading about the history of Cornell University and I was overwhelmed by it. It was founded in 1865 at the end of the American Civil War following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

There are in the United States 10 so-called Ivy League schools, superior universities which accept only the brightest students. These 10 Ivy League schools are on the par with Oxford and Cambridge universities in Great Britain and with the Sorbonne in France. Among the 10 Ivy League universities, Cornell is one of the ten and is ranked as the 18th best university in the world.

Of all the students who apply for admission only 14 percent are accepted. In 2016 the student body was 22,000 . It is a well-endowed university whose figure this year was 6.03 billion U.S. dollars.
The faculty consists of 1,648 professors on a campus containing 608 buildings. across a magnificent campus of 2000 acres. Of its present and past faculty, 54 are Nobel laureates.

There are schools within the university which specialize in medicine, law, agriculture, engineering and the humanities. and sciences.
It is customary for American studentss to submit their requests for admission to universities by October of the year for which they are seeking to be accepted. Responses, positive or sadly negative, are sent to the students in mid-April so the student has six months of nail-biting in anticipation of the magic letter to arrive, with hopefully good news. .
Students with superior grades may request what is called “early decision”, guaranteeing them a faster reply.

Yesterday I received a telephone call from my excited grandson with the news. “Saba, I have been accepted into Cornell University”, one of the 14 percent who will be admitted.

There were excited shouts heard on the telephone from members of his family who were rejoicing at the wonderful news. For the first time since my wife’s death in September during which I have cried many tears of sorrow, yesterday I cried tears of joy for my grandson’s great honor.

Now comes the heavy part. Tuition at Cornell University is $40,000 per year plus an additional $25,000 for dormitory rooms and meals. A total of $65,000 each year x 4 years amounts to $260,000. Scholarships are available and banks give student loans, repayable within ten years following graduation. With two of his children now in universities, I don’t know how my son will manage these heavy expenses.

Perhaps dollars will fall from heaven as did the manna in the days of Moses. Meanwhile, this Shabbat will have a special extra oneg…. A time to refrain from weeping and a time to rejoice.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.