SARA SCHENIRER: A First-Class Option

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SARA SCHENIRER: A FIRST-CLASS OPTION

By: Judy Sutton



Your daughter just graduated from high school or returned from an inspiring seminary year in Israel. Perhaps she’s just entering her senior year of high school in the fall and is anxious to plan her next steps.

She’d like to pursue a career that will enable her, b’ezrat Hashem, to be a happy wife and mother while using her professional talents.  Together you and your daughter are thinking about the numerous, but often-confusing array of choices available.

Of course, there are myriad options available for a girl who wants to pursue a degree in special education, social work, nursing, business, or other potentially satisfying and lucrative fields. But your daughter is not just any young lady. She is a Jewish girl for whom family, community, and religion are key values. In both curriculum and environment, a secular college will often contradict the ideals with which she was lovingly and carefully raised. Moreover, the conviction that attending a secular college offers a higher academic standard no longer matches the reality.

For these reasons and others, Sara Schenirer Institute is the preferred option for an ever-increasing number of graduates of our community high schools. Sara Schenirer, a partner of the highly respected Concordia College-New York, offers fully accredited degree programs in a wide array of prime fields.

ConcordiaCollege was established in 1881 and offers a full complement of undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate degrees on its campus in Bronxville, NY, and through partners such as Sara Schenirer. In US News & World Report’s Best Colleges 2017 rankings, Concordia College was named one of the Best Regional Colleges in the Northern region and was honored as a College of Distinction for the 2016-2017 school year. By partnering with a respected college such as Concordia College, Sara Schenirer affords Jewish students the option of attending college right in their local communities and earning excellent degrees at affordable tuition rates.

HISTORY OF A UNIQUE PROGRAM

How did Sara Schenirer begin, and what benefits does it offer the aspiring college student?

Rabbi Michoel Meisels, founding dean of Sara Schenirer, envisioned an institution that would provide a top-quality education and sterling credentials, in an environment that would not compromise a student’s hashkafot. A veteran educator, he was keenly aware of the fact that many young ladies marry shortly after high school and never have a chance to finish their degree. For the student who aspires to marry and establish a home in the near future, a protracted four-year college program is neither practical nor attractive. He was also concerned about the corrosive influence secular colleges have on Jewish students, a reality he faced time and again. Thus, he set out to offer a state-of-the-art program that would allow a student to earn her degree in an accelerated fashion, at affordable tuition rates, and without having to leave her community. Thirty-five years and more than 7,000 graduates later, the importance of this program is self-evident.  

“Rabbi Meisels was a visionary,” explains Mrs. Batsheva Shonek, director of the program. “Even more than that, his concern for the welfare of the Jewish community was legendary. His only goal was to bring higher education to the community in a way that would truly make a difference.”

RESULTS THAT SPEAK VOLUMES

In partnership with local colleges, Rabbi Meisels’ established a program in which a conscientious student, taking a full complement of courses, can earn her BA in one academic year. To ensure the quality of the education, all coursework follows the curriculum and syllabi provided by the partner colleges. Professors are drawn from within the community, are approved by the college, and are experts in their respective fields. Sara Schenirer students are consistently featured on the Dean’s List and graduate with honors.

This insistence on quality has earned Sara Schenirer high praise. Their graduates are well-regarded and much sought after in their fields of training. “We have never needed to offer career services because our students are the most sought-after in their fields,” Rabbi Elazar Meisels, current dean of students, explains.

COURSES AND DEGREES

At the undergraduate level, Sara Schenirer offers a BA in Social Sciences and BS in Social Work, with additional undergraduate degrees in the works. The BS in Social Work is ideal for those pursuing a career in social work, whereas the BA in Social Science, a psychology-based degree, is extremely versatile. It leads directly into Sara Schenirer’s popular graduate programs, such as MS in Education and Special Education, and ABA, and it also can be used to gain entry into a wide array of graduate programs in other colleges. Students have used their undergraduate degrees to transfer to graduate programs in prestigious institutions.

Graduate students can pursue an MS in Education and Special Education, ABA, or Digital Marketing, through Sara Schenirer, as well as a variety of postgraduate degrees.

 “I earned my Bachelor’s in Sara Schenirer in record time, and now I can go virtually anywhere for my Master’s degree,” says Jaqueline Behar, a 2015 graduate of the Bachelor in Social Science program, currently preparing for a career in art therapy. Graduates of the BA program go on to study and work in computers, business management, OT, PT, counseling, nursing, and other fields.

AFFORDABILITY AND MORE

One might assume that a program of this caliber is prohibitively expensive. This, however, is not the case at all. Every degree program is extremely affordable, and all programs are eligible for financial aid. The staff also works with each individual student to ensure that their costs are kept to an absolute minimum. In the words of one graduate, “I was amazed at the effort the staff made to ensure that I would never take an extra course, so that my expenses would be as low as possible. They cared about my financial situation and were committed to ensuring that I would not go into debt for my degree.”

As news of Sara Schenirer’s programs continues to spread, a significant number of Sara Schenirer students transfer in from other colleges when they realize that, as one student said, “My friend attends Sara Schenirer and she’s about to earn her master’s degree, while I’ve been studying for two years and haven’t even gotten my associate degree yet.” That scenario is one reason the school’s student population from the Syrian Jewish community has more than doubled over the past two years. Increasingly, students from our community are realizing that Sara Schenirer is their best option.

Another factor fueling an increasing interest in Sara Schenirer from within our community is that it partners with several Sephardic high schools to offer a Dual-Credit program. This unique program allows high school juniors and seniors to earn college credits inexpensively through Concordia College, while still in high school. Those credits then easily transfer to other colleges, or to Sara Schenirer once the students graduate high school or seminary and begin their college studies. “Thanks to their Dual-Credit program, I began college with 20 college credits and saved more than a semester’s worth of classes and tuition,” Rebecca Shabot shares.

Mrs. Suri Wadler, principal at Shaare Torah Girls High School and respected career counselor, speaks enthusiastically about Sara Schenirer Institute, to which she has directed many of her graduates.

 “My main experience with Sara Schenirer,” says Mrs. Wadler, “is with its Special Ed program. The school offers an excellent blend of online and in-class instructor-guided courses. I have found that the students receive the support they need and their classes provide serious, in-depth learning. These students graduate college well-prepared for their chosen fields. The biggest proof of my confidence in the program is that I have hired former Shaare students, whom I sent to Sara Schenirer, to come back and work here at the school.”

Mrs. Wadler feels that one of the program’s major assets is its student support services. “The directors are very available for their students,” she says. “They’ve worked with us for a long time. They help the girls navigate real-life situations – marriage, babies, and other factors that need to be accommodated – while still maintaining the school’s high academic standard.  The students finish in a timely manner, which is a big draw. And the credits earned before the girls even begin Sara Schenirer – from the Concordia College programs offered at Shaare Torah and other high schools, as well as from accredited seminaries – give them a significant head start.”

She is grateful to Sara Schenirer’s Dual-Credits director, Mrs. Blimi Frank, “who is helping me navigate this entire endeavor. Blimi is extremely helpful and very knowledgeable.”

Mrs. Wadler appreciates the fact that Sara Schenirer offers a high-level college program through respected college partners in an atmosphere that is both professional and warm. 

LOCATION IS EVERYTHING

From its original flagship location in Boro Park, Sara Schenirer has continuously expanded; currently, classes are held in Boro Park, Crown Heights, Lakewood, Monsey, and the Five Towns.   A year and a half ago, Dean Meisels realized, “We’re providing an excellent product to students in the tri-state area, but what about the young lady who lives in Chicago, LA, or Israel? Many of these young ladies are interested in our programs and prefer not to move away from home in order to access them.”

This realization gave birth to Sara Schenirer’s newest venture: the online Sara Schenirer Anywhere – the full Sara Schenirer experience, offered entirely online through Concordia College. Although online, it’s worlds away from a typical online program. In the latter, a professor posts material to be studied and the student does all the work independently.

Sara Schenirer’s model is vastly different. Powered by sophisticated software, the school’s professors offer interactive live-online classes. The students, who log in from more than 20 cities, watch the professor as well as their fellow students. It’s a highly interactive venue, brimming with questions and discussion, and currently several hundred students are enrolled in this ground-breaking program.

STELLAR STUDENT SUPPORT

One facet of the program that is particularly important to Sara Schenirer students is the school’s stellar student support. According to Mrs. Shonek, “No other program provides the kind of support that we give. We are completely present for our students at every stage, from registration and financial aid application, to when they move on in life and need help adjusting their program schedules. We know them by their first names and we celebrate their marriages, births, and significant life events with them. Our school’s motto is, ‘Once a Sara Schenirer student, always a Sara Schenirer student.’ We provide a seamless interface between the student and partner colleges.”

Mrs. Shonek points out another reason Sara Schenirer is so popular in the Jewish community. “The academic calendar is constructed around the Jewish calendar.  No classes are held and no work is assigned for a full week before Pesah until after the hag. Summer semester ends earlier in consideration of families traveling to the Jersey Shore or upstate. It’s a unique venue in which, rather than the student needing to adapt to a calendar and set of rules that reflect a different culture, the student is enrolled in a program which, while academically intensive and challenging, is built around her religious and communal needs.  

Ruthy Manopla, a graduate of Magen David Elementary School and Ilan High School, is currently enrolled in the Social Work program.  Ruthy explains, “I was always interested in the behavioral sciences. When considering social work as my major, however, I was initially hesitant, since it can easily be taught in a way that places a lot of the material at odds with Judaism. When I heard that Sara Schenirer offers a social work program, I began to consider it again. I’m so pleased to report that my intuition was correct. I remember worrying about how a certain topic, reflecting the sliding morals of the outside culture, would be presented. I could not get over the sensitivity and refinement with which my professor dealt with it. I feel relieved that my standards are not being compromised.”

“The longer I am in the program,” says Ruthy, “the more I appreciate it. The faculty and administration work so hard to help us succeed. Everyone here is so nice, open, and helpful. I love the fact that the atmosphere is one of warmth and understanding, and that we are all Jewish, with similar values.”

One staff member whom hundreds of students have found to be particularly attuned and helpful is Mrs. Merav Hasson, admissions counselor. Merav explains, “My team deals with the students and does everything behind the scenes: registration, computer work, setting up the girls’ classes, running reports to Concordia, and more.  My responsibilities are basically to see that all requirements are met and to make our students’ lives easier.”

Mrs. Hasson loves working with the Sara Schenirer staff, which she describes as “terrific people,” and also enjoys interacting with the students.

“From our Sephardic community, we have lots of students from Bet Yaakov Ateret Torah, Shaare Torah, Orot Sara, and Ilan. They come because they want to get their degree in a year, and they love how the staff is so accommodating and helpful. The multiple locations, plus the online option, make it very convenient. My own daughter, who just graduated from Orot Sara, plans to attend Sara Schenirer, b’ezrat Hashem, after her seminary year.”

Many of our community’s graduates have the same idea, and for good reason. Says Mrs. Shonek, “Our students earn their degree in such a short time because we offer a very focused program without unnecessary and expensive courses. Our better than 95% graduation rate is due to the excellent personalized support and guidance our academic advisors provide.”

To learn more about Sara Schenirer, visit their website www.sarasch.com,call (718) 633-8557, or email information@sarasch.com. Their staff responds to every message and welcomes the opportunity to demonstrate why their student support is always rated number one.