By Ellie Parker
College is a time to find yourself, at least that’s what they say.
It is a time for exploration, self-discovery, and, of course, parties.
One could say, however, that students of Yeshiva University run in a different circle. One that doesn’t ascribe to the Asher Roth “I Love College” version of frat life and late nights. One in which partying and drinking are not only unsung, they are deemed taboo.
While one could easily chalk this up to the school’s mission statement to preserve modesty and religious adherence, I think it has more to do with the students’ journey.
A big part of the appeal of YU is the chance to experience a gap year. Regardless of the affiliation or country, the goal of a year abroad is to facilitate growth and maturity for its participants.
With a majority of YU students arriving in New York after already having spent a year in Israel, their first year on campus looks very different than their secular college counterparts.
In other universities, most students arrive freshman year right out of high school. They are on their own for the first time, sans parental supervision, navigating their own decision making processes–both good and bad. While the balance between work and play often heavily leans towards the latter, striking that said balance is what results in meaningful lessons and memories.
For the majority of students in a university such as our own, however, upon returning from a gap year, the expectation is to be already formed and molded into a serious and eager student. If your gap year was meaningful, there should be no need for the frivolous activities of a teen still searching.
Allow me for a moment to express an unpopular opinion: Sometimes one or two years of scheduled soul-searching is not enough.
It is not that these social gatherings don’t occur at YU; in fact, quite the contrary. They happen here just like anywhere else, except for one major difference. At YU, they are seen less as a rite of passage and more as a seedy, underground society.
Thursday night shuttle rides are filled with gawking eyes and awkward tension as Heights goers try to sort out the partiers from the studiers. Who will pass by the library and who will venture inside? It is a question as old as time.
But couldn’t one make the argument that both are equally important and commendable?
YU will never be like secular college, and that is its draw. But we could all benefit from a little less rigidity and more fluidity, a little less judgment, and more acceptance. Growth is not one size fits all, it must be considered on a case-by-case basis. So, whether your nights are filled with Talmud study or keg stands, give yourself space to forge your own way. Find yourself, because lo and behold, they’re right.