Santa Clara in Silicon Valley Emphasizes Ethics and Social Justice

Santa Clara emphasizes a commitment to academics and community and is distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities. This comprehensive, faith-based, Division 1 university offers small classes taught by full professors and incorporates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice to educate students and citizens prepared to contribute to a more just, humane, and sustainable world. The beautiful 106-acre campus in Santa Clara, California, littered with palm trees and luscious rose bushes, is steeped in history and tradition.

This selective mid-sized California university has a heritage of traditional Jesuit ideals of “infusing morality and ethics into strong and coherent academics.” Founded by the Jesuits and with a large undergraduate population (almost half) of Roman Catholics, religion has a non-intrusive impact on campus life. Santa Clara students will find many opportunities for spiritual development and to get involved with local volunteer organizations. Students will also have access to job-recruitment and internships afforded to a university located in Silicon Valley, with other 70% participation.

Here are a few quick facts about Santa Clara:

Acceptance: 50%

4-year Graduation rate: 84%

Freshman retention: 94%

Freshmen from out of state: 41%

Most popular majors: finance, economics, communication

Housing: Guaranteed housing all four years, but juniors and seniors often utilize the option to live off-campus. While nearly all freshmen and sophomores live on campus, the dorms only house about 56% of the overall student population. Plans are currently in the works to build more university housing to help battle the rising cost of off-campus housing. Students have remarked that the campus always feels safe.


Santa Clara University

Academics: Santa Clara offers a rigorous undergraduate curriculum as well as robust masters program, law degrees, and engineering doctorate programs. While offering 8 different engineering programs that comprise 15% of the student population, Political Science, Communication, and Psychology are still the most popular classes among students.

SC boasts its 3-2 engineering program in which a student can attain bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years. The college has also recently added minors in professional writing and real estate. 

Santa Clara’s Core Curriculum prescribes courses in three broad categories: Knowledge, Habits of Mind and Heart (skills), and Engagement with the World. Core Pathways supplement majors and the Core Curriculum by offering 24 sets of courses with interdisciplinary themes (justice and the arts, and values in science and technology, are two such examples). Students choose one Pathway and complete 3-4 courses. A student’s chosen Pathway culminates with an Integrative Reflection Essay and required community service and oftentimes requires completion of a capstone project. 


Similar colleges to consider:
Cal Poly–San Luis Obispo, Loyola Marymount, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, University of Southern California


Social:  “There’s a great social life both on and off-campus and over a hundred clubs and programs to get involved in,” says one student. Social life is active as 150 student organizations offer a myriad of on and off-campus activities. The Activity Programming Board coordinates a number of popular events such as concerts, movie nights, Midnight Breakfast, to name a few. Although Santa Clara no longer supports fraternities and sororities, Greek organizations and the off-campus party scene still thrive on their own.

Santa Clara’s campus features only one central dining hall where food is prepared by the same company that caters to Apple and Google events. Anyone with a food allergy can take comfort in the fact that they will have a plethora of food options that are organic, farm to table, as well as gluten- and allergen-free.

Financial: Santa Clara offers both university grants and need-based financial aid, with two-thirds of students receiving support. The average percent of need met is 79%. Although the tuition and fees run about $73,000, the average financial aid package is $54,000: $38,000 coming from need-based financial aid, and another $16,000 from merit aid. About 73% of students receive financial aid.

What do you think about this college? What else would you like to learn about it? Please post your comments below.

How to Stay Healthy in College: 5 Top Tips

How to Stay Healthy in College: 5 Top Tips

You won’t be surprised to hear that healthy college students will be more successful and productive. That’s why, today, I’m sharing these 5 top tips for how to stay healthy in college.

You’ve done the hard work of preparing for and getting into college. All of the testing, tours, interviews, applications, and volunteering have paid off. But once you begin your college education, it can be easy to fall into the trap of too little sleep, not enough water, and other unhealthy habits.

Healthy college students.

Being healthy in college includes the health of your body AND mind.

Understandably, your freshman year of college can be an overwhelming time. The stress of exams, classes, and other responsibilities can take its toll. It’s important to keep your mind and body in tip-top shape to ensure a successful college experience.

The truth about the “Freshman 15”.

When you think of college freshmen and their health, the term “freshman 15” might come to mind. This refers to new college students gaining 15 pounds in their first year of school.

It’s typically associated with eating college cafeteria food, not exercising, consuming high-calorie beverages, inadequate sleep, and other unhealthy habits.

In fact, studies show students aren’t likely to gain this much—if they gain at all. Ohio State researchers found most students don’t gain as much as 15 pounds during ALL four years of college. In their study, female students gained an average of 8.9 pounds while men put on an average of 13.4 pounds. Again, this is over four years, not just freshman year.

How to stay healthy in college.

When it comes to how to stay healthy in college, there’s so much more to focus on than your weight and avoiding the freshman 15!

Have a look at these 5 top tips for feeling your best during your academic adventures so you can be a productive, happy college student and get the most out of your experience.

1. Get help.

Most colleges and universities have several resources in place to help students with a multitude of issues. Particularly important are the mental health resources many schools offer.

When college students feel overwhelmed or don’t know where to turn, these counseling and support resources can mean a world of difference. For example, Cornell College’s Counseling Center offers a variety of services, including online screening, education, counseling, and much more.

2. Utilize free resources.

The free resources your college offers will vary by institution.

For example, some offer free laundry for students. This is a time and money-saving consideration for college students that shouldn’t be overlooked. I talk more about colleges with free laundry in this post.


Most colleges offer free gym memberships for current students to use their on-campus facilities. Take advantage of this service while you have access to it! Keeping active during college will help keep your mind and body sharp. If your school doesn’t offer a free gym membership, look into the discounts offered to college students at off-campus locations.

Speaking of off-campus life, have a look at these pros and cons for living off-campus during college.

3. Eat at regular intervals.

Have you ever had your head buried in a textbook, only to find you haven’t come up for air in hours? During this time, you’ve likely neglected to eat. Then, you might be tempted to reach for the quickest, most convenient options to satisfy your hunger.

Unfortunately, these quick options don’t tend to be the most nourishing choices. Do your best to schedule regular meals and stick to this schedule as much as possible. Planning your meals ahead of time and keeping healthy snacks nearby is another way to achieve this goal.

Some students find it hard to eat healthy on a college budget. The truth is, there are plenty of healthy, low-cost foods available. Sometimes it just takes a bit of research to find the right ingredients and recipes that suit your budget.

Quick Tip: If you’re regularly eating college cafeteria food, start each meal with a serving of fruit or vegetables and you’re less likely to fill up on less nourishing options.

4. Stay hydrated.

Have you developed the habit of grabbing a soda from the vending machine rather than visiting the water fountain? Over time, this choice can have a dramatic effect on your health. To make sure you’re getting enough water, invest in a good quality reusable water bottle to keep handy at all times. This is one of the 7 college essentials worth investing in for your freshman year.

5. Prioritize sleep.

Unfortunately, sleep is often at the bottom of the list of priorities for college students. Instead, things like studying, school work, and social activities take precedence.

While all of these elements are important, you simply won’t be as successful at any of them if you’re sleep-deprived.

Setting up a sleep schedule and sticking to it can be challenging at first. But once you find a pattern that allows you to get enough rest while also fulfilling your other commitments, you’ll find your productivity soars.

Now, I’d love to hear from you. What have your biggest health challenges been during your freshman year of college? What did you find helped you stay healthy during your time at school?

If you’re looking for one-on-one guidance to help you get into (or pay for) college, click here to learn more.

Want to see more posts like this? Don’t miss these:

Choosing a college: How to find the right academic fit
Top 10 must-dos for college-bounds juniors
7 ways to support your child during the college application process

Living Off Campus: Pros and Cons

Student living off campus walking to classes

The idea of going off to college might seem scary enough. But the thought of living off campus?

Even worse!

The truth is, there are plenty of advantages to living off campus and it could be a great option. But understandably, it isn’t always the right choice.

Many students choose to start their college experience living on campus in university residences. This can help them get the “full college experience.” Also, not having to worry about transportation to and from campus can be a great advantage.

Some parents appreciate the comfort of knowing their child is surrounded by other people and resources. Moving from home to their own place and starting university all at once might seem like too big a step.

While there are definite advantages to living on campus, let’s go over the pros and cons of off-campus housing. With these in mind, you can make an informed decision for which option might be right for you.

Advantages to living off-campus

1. You can stay all year

Some colleges close their on-campus residences during holidays and summers. That means anyone who lives there needs to clear out.

If you live off-campus, there’s no need to leave during breaks and holidays. On the other hand, if you’re required to sign a year-long lease for off-campus housing, you may have to sublet your place during the summer if you go home.

For students who live far away and can’t make it back home regularly for visits, the ability to stay in their off-campus residence can be very useful.

2. More space and privacy

You might luck out with a college that has spacious student residences, but quarters tend to be tight. When you live off-campus, chances are you’ll have more space than you would if you live on campus.

With that added space comes more privacy, freedom, and independence.

On that note, this added freedom and independence while living off-campus might be what scares some students or their parents.

For some students, those close quarters and lack of privacy are just what they’re looking for because they want the complete picture of college life.

But sleeping just a few feet from another person (often a total stranger at first) every night and sharing facilities with hundreds of other students isn’t for everyone.

For students who value peace and quiet (especially when it comes to getting their studying and homework done), an off-campus home might be the better choice.

3. Establishing independence

When a student rents a place off-campus rather than living in a dorm, they’re giving themselves the opportunity to experience many of the responsibilities that come with adulthood.

These include:

  1. Setting up utilities
  2. Managing a small household
  3. Paying bills
  4. Buying groceries and other household products
  5. Establishing and building credit

For students who are comfortable getting an added dose of real-world experience, the off-campus living could work well for them.

Maybe college is still a few years off for your child but you’re doing your research ahead of time. In the meantime, there are things you can do to help prepare younger children for college. In this post, I’ve outlined important ways high school freshmen can start preparing for college. 

Of course, we need to cover the cons to living off-campus, too.

Drawbacks to living off-campus

1. Distance

There are usually off-campus housing options available very close to college campuses.

But often, students will need to take public transportation or drive to school from their off-campus home.

This can equal an added cost for gas, transit passes, and other transportation costs.

2. Some students feel isolated

Living on campus in residence means you’re in the midst of campus life and the activities, events, and other factors that come hand in hand with it. Off-campus housing could leave some students feeling isolated and as though they’re missing out on campus life.

Off-campus housing could still mean living with other students, so you won’t miss out on all interactions with your schoolmates.

For some students, these interactions are enough.

Students who live off-campus can make an extra effort to attend school events and meet other students to minimize any isolation they might feel.

3. More responsibility

Going to university might be a big enough change and added responsibility for some students—the extra work of running and maintaining a household could be too much.

Off-campus housing comes with more responsibility, and these responsibilities could prove overwhelming for some students. On that same note, it might also take up too much valuable time that should otherwise be spent on school work.

Do you find yourself reading these and thinking, “that’s not a con?” That could be a telltale sign that off-campus living would be a good option for you.

What about the cost of living off-campus vs on campus?

You may have noticed the cost of living off-campus wasn’t included as either a pro or a con.

That’s because the cost of living on campus versus off-campus varies so much between schools, students, budgets, and other factors.

If you’re sharing off-campus housing with several roommates, it could turn out to cost less than living in a dorm. But in other cases, living in a dorm will end up costing less.

To help you determine what it might cost to live off-campus of your college, do your research into real estate in the area, spend time talking to other students, and be sure to calculate the added cost of things like utilities, transportation, and groceries.

If you’d like to learn more about securing funds for your child to go to college, be sure to have a look at the “Get In and Get Money” workshop. 

As you’ve probably noticed, there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to off-campus housing or living on campus.

The answer will depend on things like a student’s personality, how much responsibility they’re ready for, and what kind of college experience they’re hoping to get.

Planning college campus visits are an incredibly important part of making this decision, too. Here’s how to make your visit to a college campus as stress-free as possible. 

You might consider living on campus for your first year to help give yourself a softer landing. After that, you could choose to live off-campus for the rest of your university experience. For many students, this proves to be the best of both worlds.

If you’re interested in one-on-one support and other resources to help you or your child get into (or pay) for college, click here.

If you enjoyed this article and you’d like to learn more about preparing for college, don’t miss these posts:

Get in and Get Money: 5 Tips for College-Bound Juniors
College Essay How-to: Who is someone you admire?
The 5 Key Things Students Should Do the Summer Before Senior Year

How To Motivate Your Teen To Visit Colleges…and Survive Visits As a Parent

What’s the best way to learn if a college is going to be great fit for your teen?

How can you help your teen choose a college that personally inspires and excites them–rather than choosing a college because that’s where his or her friends are going?

How can you get a good idea if a college will be a springboard for your aspiring young adult so you can feel more confident in the investment?

…By making college campus visits!

Campus visits can answer these questions quickly and clearly for both you and your teen. Your teen can get a true “feel” for what it would be like to stay in the dorm, to use the labs, library, gym and other facilities, to feel at home given the size of the student body, to hang out on campus and around town. Rather than imagining college based on media hype or his or her friends’ opinion, your teen can see for him/herself.

Plus, as a parent, you can help your teen compare and contrast college options since you know your teen’s preferences and tendencies so well. Walking on a campus, touring with a student guide and speaking with faculty can offer assurance in ways a brochure or website never can.

How do we decide which schools to visit if my teen has a list of 10 or more?

If time and travel allow, start with 3 colleges that provide a broad overview of the types of schools available–a small, private college, a mid-size private or public university, a big public university. These will give your teen a good overview of the wide range of options they have for schools. Once they decide (after visiting!) whether they prefer small, medium or a large student body, your teen  can start to narrow their search and spend the majority of time looking at colleges in that size range.

Should we make a campus visit during spring or summer break?

Many families plan college tours during spring or summer break since it’s the most convenient time with school calendars. Certainly, a visit to the campus during a break is better than no visit at all.

Summer campus visits can be most important for high school juniors/rising seniors. As juniors are finalizing their college list, a summer campus visit can be considerably helpful for writing applications in the fall. Likewise, given how busy the fall of senior year will be, it’s usually not enough time to go on a campus visit, especially if a teen plays a sport or participates in clubs like marching band or Model UN.

However, it’s ideal to plan a visit when school is in session. Being able to see college students “in their natural habitat” will give your high schooler an even greater understanding of what their future could be like at that college. With students and faculty on campus, your teen can even sit in on a class lecture, see a sporting event or marching band practices, check out the library in use, schedule a meeting with a coach or professor, etc.

A fun activity for you and your teen to do would be to plan to eat in the dining hall. You may not have the time to go out and find a restaurant during the day of the tour, so the dining hall would be a great way to find out what the food is like on campus. Check for cleanliness, the variety of quality foods, and accessibility. (If the campus is big, there may be multiple dining halls to consider.)

Encourage your teen to talk with students while visiting the campus (not only the student guide). It can be inspiring and helpful for your teen to hear what college is like directly from a student! This may be the most important part of your campus visits and an opportunity that too many college-bound students do not take advantage of. Teens can ask them any questions they have or about their general experience at the school. (Your teen may get more nuanced answers than from tour guides, which can help broaden their perspective on the student community at any given campus.)

Perks of planning ahead

Another benefit to arranging a college visit while school is in session is that you can call ahead and schedule a tour led by a current student. I recommend reserving your college tours at least 30 days in advance so that tours are not booked by the time you arrive.

Not only is it helpful to have a guide to lead you and answer your teen’s questions, but this “demonstrates interest”. By demonstrating interest in a school by making an effort to visit, scheduling a tour, asking questions and following up with a thank you note, your teen can signal their interest to admissions. This can help when it comes to reviewing your teen’s college application if an admissions officer is making a final decision between an applicant who has shown interest in attending versus one who has not.

In addition to the admissions office tour, you might also want to book an appointment with the financial aid office. Learning what options are available to your family could make a huge difference when the time comes to choose a college.

Get my free guide

Throughout the year, I visit dozens of college campuses and learn something new every time. With each visit, it’s important for me to write notes so that I keep track of all that I learned. Please download our Campus Visit Checklist so that your teen remembers what they learned and keep track of how each college would be a fit for their goals, interests and needs.


10 Colleges with Unique Learning Opportunities during January

Johns Hopkins Homewood

In my recent talk with students in Kigali, Rwanda, they had a lot of questions about the unique features of American colleges and universities. Students were familiar with the brand-name colleges and a few colleges that had visited their school. Beyond that, they were surprised by the variety of college options, locales, and even distinctions among the Ivy League universities. One of the students with an interest in engineering asked about Johns Hopkins University.

Johns Hopkins
Johns Hopkins Homewood campus has a wealth of learning opportunities both on and off-campus.

A cool feature about Johns Hopkins is that it offers a January (“intersession”) term. The January term allows students to travel abroad or delve into an interesting topic that they wouldn’t have the opportunity to take otherwise, because it’s outside their course of study, nontraditional or both. For example, several of the courses offered recently at Johns Hopkins during its January term included Shiatsu sitting, Leading for Social Change, Iranian Intellectual History, travel study in Cuba, and ballroom dance.

Here are several other colleges that offer a January term:

This is a short list to whet your interest. There are numerous other campuses that offer a January term. Which additional colleges/universities did you find?


Why Add Princeton to Your College List

It’s graduation time and definitely the most rewarding time of year in my practice! This year, I’m attending a college graduation of a former client. Attending his graduation from college is particularly meaningful because he was in my first class of high school seniors. During the graduation dinner with his family, his mother recalled when they first hired me to work with him. I had spoken with his parents about his college list. (Keep in mind that this student had already spent a great deal of time thinking about where he wanted to apply to college.)

I thought his list was solid but wanted him to consider adding another East Coast university to his list. I knew that my student really wanted to remain in California as did his parents. At least by this time in our relationship, the student was open to my suggestion. Here’s some background on my thinking for adding Princeton to his list:

Case Study in Point!

princeton campusThe student attended a large public high school in California. His GPA was strongest in the 10th and 11th grade, with a couple of lower grades during 9th grade. The fact that his grades trended up for the remainder of high school still showed favorably. SAT scores were strong. What was truly remarkable about this student though was that he had started his technology business at age 13 and it was still going strong. As an entrepreneur myself, I marveled at his courage and stick-to-itiveness. He wanted to continue his entrepreneurial pursuits after college. The selective colleges on his list that would offer a strong program/exposure to entrepreneurship were Babson, University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford.

Why Princeton

I suggested that this student add Princeton to his list. Princeton isn’t necessarily known for entrepreneurship. However, these qualities about their undergraduate program were still a good fit for this particular student:

  1. Princeton has a strong community. I felt that if this student would be attending college so far away from home, the community of students would be very important. College, after all, should feel like your home away from home. Even moreso when that college home is 2,926 miles away!
  2. Princeton offers a liberal arts education. Although my student was considering computer science or engineering, based on his technology interests, Princeton offers a range of classes for exploring interests that may be undiscovered. Part of the exciting transformation that happens in college is discovering an interest or passion that had been hidden in high school.
  3. Princeton emphasizes independent work in the junior and senior years. This independent work culminates in a senior thesis.

These three qualities match well with those necessary for entrepreneurs, namely networking skills, open-mindedness, and independence. The experiences that can be garnered through the four years of college would bring those other sustainable qualities to bear.

The Rest of the Story

With attending the graduation ceremony, my relationship with this family came full circle. I was excited to be part of such a joyous occasion and beamed with pride as my student accepted his AB degree in History from Princeton University. While he still has plans to pursue his entrepreneurial interests in the next few years, he will be working in New York City, learning about a completely different industry but building a network and skills that will last a lifetime.

Top 3 Must-haves at Hamilton College

New students at Hamilton College get 2 things – an adviser and a reference librarian. These two people

Hamilton College
Hamilton College

are important to the Hamilton student’s success because Hamilton is a school with no course requirements. In short, students can take courses that interest them. Students must, however, take 3 writing-intensives which is similar to most other colleges. A student described the open course selection well when she stated, “Open is good, but you have to have some foresight.” The adviser certainly helps in that area. The reference librarian, of course, is important because Hamilton students will spend a lot of time conducting research and studying in the library.

Although the student body is academic-minded, the weekends on campus offer numerous options for fun and hanging out with friends. The “barn” on-campus features late-night, “dry” entertainment, like casino night or live music. After a good time at the barn, the on-campus diner serves breakfast from midnight to 3 am! Nothing quite like eating pancakes at 2 am. . . they always taste better then!

Now, what do you think are the Top 3 must-haves at Hamilton College? 🙂

Does this Mindset List sound like your Teen?

Last week, I said a brief “farewell” to several of my seniors from the Class of 2012. In my “Freshman Transition” meeting with them,  we discuss ways that they can get the most of their freshman year. I also remind them that they are welcome to call or text me during the year as they have questions about classes, summer internships, or other.

For parents who are sending/taking their teens to college, it can be a more emotional time. One mom that I spoke with last week was a bit teary as she talked about taking her youngest to college. Every parent’s experience will differ whether they are taking their oldest, second, or sixth child to college.

Beloit College publishes each year their “Mindset List” which uniquely describes the pulse of the entering Freshman class. As you read their top 15 of the Mindset List, did you see any of these characteristics in your teen?

The Mindset List for the Class of 2016

For this generation of entering college students, born in 1994, Kurt Cobain, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Richard Nixon and John Wayne Gacy have always been dead.

They should keep their eyes open for Justin Bieber or Dakota Fanning at freshman orientation.

They have always lived in cyberspace, addicted to a new generation of “electronic narcotics.”

The Biblical sources of terms such as “Forbidden Fruit,” “The writing on the wall,” “Good Samaritan,” and “The Promised Land” are unknown to most of them.

Michael Jackson’s family, not the Kennedys, constitutes “American Royalty.”

If they miss The Daily Show, they can always get their news on YouTube.

Their lives have been measured in the fundamental particles of life: bits, bytes, and bauds.

Robert De Niro is thought of as Greg Focker’s long-suffering father-in-law, not as Vito Corleone or Jimmy Conway.

Bill Clinton is a senior statesman of whose presidency they have little knowledge.

They have never seen an airplane “ticket.”

On TV and in films, the ditzy dumb blonde female generally has been replaced by a couple of Dumb and Dumber males.

The paradox “too big to fail” has been, for their generation, what “we had to destroy the village in order to save it” was for their grandparents’.

For most of their lives, maintaining relations between the U.S. and the rest of the world has been a woman’s job in the State Department.

They can’t picture people actually carrying luggage through airports rather than rolling it.

There has always been football in Jacksonville but never in Los Angeles.

Having grown up with MP3s and iPods, they never listen to music on the car radio and really have no use for radio at all.

via The Mindset List: 2016 List.

Please post your comment below. I look forward to hearing from you!

University of Virginia President Resignation and Freshman Class of 2016

Two years in office for a district superintendent may be acceptable. When it comes to a University President, however, two years is really no time at all. The last president of University of Virginia-Charlottesville held that office for 20 years. Dr. Teresa Sullivan, the new female president who came into office in 2010 with such high hopes, an impressive resume, and a scholarly research record will only hold office for two years when she leaves on August 15, 2012:

The announcement Sunday shocked the university community and signaled potential hard times ahead for the flagship university, an institution founded by Thomas Jefferson and unaccustomed to instability. The previous president, John T. Casteen, stayed for 20 years. When she exits on Aug. 15, Sullivan will have served two years and two weeks, the shortest presidential tenure in the school’s history. Helen Dragas’s handling of Teresa Sullivan’s ouster confounds many who know her. Sullivan attributed her departure to “a philosophical difference of opinion” between herself and U-Va.’s governing board of visitors. It was unclear when the rift began, but its existence surprised the Charlottesville community.

via University of Virginia president to step down – The Washington Post.

This will be an awkward time for entering Freshman Class of 2016 who will arrive on campus in August to greet new roommates as many of them embark on their first experience away from home in the “adult” world of college life. Freshmen and

upperclassmen at UVA can’t possibly know what to expect this 2012-2013 school year. Will there be any faculty or administrative backlash as a result of the president’s resignation? With a new president comes many changes to a university’s academic, fiscal, and social culture.

The transition to a new environment for the Freshman Class of 2014 will be felt in the dorm room, classroom, and every nook and cranny of the Charlottesville campus. The university may have a look and feel that’s quite different from what Freshmen experienced in the admissions process.

My urging to Freshmen Class of 2016 is to get involved with the hiring of the next president however they can. The role of the university President is too important to the success of students’ next four years to be a bystander.

UVA President at 2012 graduation with Katie Couric. -from Washington Post
UVA President at 2012 graduation with Katie Couric. -from Washington Post

Moishe House and Jewish identity in College and Beyond

Every day I speak with parents of college-bound students. They have questions and concerns about all things related to education. Through their questions,  I learn so much about what’s on their hearts and how I might be able to help them answer their question. I received an interesting question recently related to Jewish life on college campuses. This question led me on a search about not only Jewish life on a specific college campus but also the quality of Jewish life in that local community. For many college campuses, they are not necessarily an island onto themselves, but they are deeply embedded in the surrounding community. For example, a campus-like USC has a big enough footprint that perhaps it could operate as its own community. Instead, USC has taken a number of steps to introduce its student community to all that the greater Los Angeles area has to offer. Whether it’s through community service or the Arts, USC and Los Angeles are intertwined in the success of student life. Thus, for evaluating Jewish life on campus, I think it’s important to also consider Jewish life in the surrounding community.

Now 46 Moishe Houses around the world
Now 46 Moishe Houses around the world

Through my research on Jewish life on and off-campus, I learned about Moishe House. Moishe House is an international organization of home-based communities that promote and celebrate Jewish life for 20-somethings. In the podcast above, I interviewed David Cygielman, who is the co-founder and CEO of Moishe House. David shared with us what Moishe House is about, its start, future growth, and what it means to Jewish life on and off-campus. Prior to this role, David had more than 10 years of experience in non-profit management and won numerous awards. He’s a proud graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara. We were delighted to have David on The Education Doctor Radio Show.

Here are a few excerpts from the interview:

Moishe House Background

Dr. Pamela:    David, we may have some listeners who are unfamiliar with Moishe House.  If you can just start out by telling us what it is and how you first came up with the idea to start it.

David Cygielman:     Moishe House is the largest organization now in the world for young adult Jewish life post-college, pre settling down.  We really work in the age range of 21 to 30 years old.  The way the program works is this:  There are actually 46 Moishe Houses around the world. We are in 14 countries now.  The model is that we found young adults were already yearning to have a Jewish community.  They were already living together in houses in addition to having their full-time jobs or graduate school. They were lacking Jewish involvement. They had been involved up through college and consider themselves to be getting re-involved once they settled down but for this growing time span of the 20s and early 30s, there was a real lack of Jewish life dedicated to this population.

The way we started this organization was this.  I was in Santa Barbara and had graduated from college at UC Santa Barbara. When I was back up in the Bay Area actually visiting my family, I went to dinner with four friends at their house.  They were four friends I had met on an Israel trip when we were in high school through the Jewish Federation here in the East Bay.  They were four guys and they were roommates.  Three were working and one was in graduate school.  When we were taking, they and I, noticed we had no real engagement in Jewish life even though we had up until this point in our life.  It seemed pretty easy in the sense that they already had a house. They had couches. They had a dining room. They had a lot of Jewish friends.  What they really needed was the structure or support to turn that into a real Jewish community.

I talked with a funder in Santa Barbara, who I already knew, Morris Squire, and gave them the opportunity to turn their house into a real vibrant center for Jewish life. They hosted a Shabbat dinner the following Friday night and 73 people came, which was “Wow”. This was in Oakland.  The next week we got an e-mail from someone saying, “I went to this Shabbat.  It was an amazing experience. I have three friends.  Could we do this in San Francisco?”  That’s how the program began.  Since then, we have been getting e-mails from all over the United States and then the World.  We have Moishe Houses on five continents.  I actually just got back this week from visiting for the first time Moishe House in Beijing.  We have Moishe House in the former Soviet Union, Europe, South Africa, and South America.  It has really grown as there has been this renaissance of Jewish life for this growing population of young adults who are too old for what exists or too young for what exists.  Now we are providing something that is really built for their age group.

How to start a new Moishe House

Dr. Pamela:  Here is a big question for you. I am based in Ohio now.  I know there is a significant Jewish population in the Cleveland area, like in my old neighborhood of Shaker Heights.  There are also several major colleges and universities in the area and you probably know where this going right?  There is no Moishe House in Cleveland.  How do you know where to open a new house?

David Cygielman:   Well, a house opens in one of two ways.  Either we get a set of applicants. We get a group who say, “Look, we live in Cleveland or we live in Columbus and we would like to open a Moishe House here.”  In that case, we would then start working with the local community to see if we are able to raise partner dollars in supporting that Moishe House. It is a really cost-effective program, so an entire Moishe House costs less than a staff person would. The other way a house opens is that a community reaches out and says, “It would really interesting and we would love to support having a Moishe House in our community.”  Then we go out and look to see if there are great applicants.  Columbus, Ohio is a great example where we are working with the Federation right now who has said, “We would love to explore opening a Moishe House.”  We are actually looking to see if the population exists to actually open one.