Students are rejecting elite colleges like Columbia and Yale to attend southern schools like Clemson: report

Anti-Israel protests have resulted in arrests at Columbia and other schools across the country

Prospective students are increasingly opting for colleges like Elon in North Carolina, Clemson in South Carolina and the University of Miami in Florida over elite northeastern schools. 

For Jewish students, the rise of antisemitism and anti-Israel protests on campuses like Columbia have shown students like Scott Katz that choosing Elon was the right decision. Elon received an A grade from the Anti-Defamation League for its work to protect Jewish students from hate on campus. 

"It was a big deal," Katz told The Free Press of the environment on campus. 


Columbia University and Clemson University

Prospective students are increasingly opting for colleges like Elon in North Carolina, Clemson in South Carolina and the University of Miami in Florida over elite northeastern schools, according to a new report. (Getty Images)

"Even if I could’ve gotten into Harvard, I wouldn’t have gone," Katz said. "I wanted a school that felt right for me, not someplace that we’re told we’re supposed to want to go." 

"Never before have we seen so much interest in colleges like Clemson, Georgia Tech, and North Carolina State," assistant vice provost and executive director of undergraduate admissions at Georgia Tech, Rick Clark, told the outlet. "That’s just unprecedented."

Other parents and students cited COVID-era lockdown policies as the reason that they started to more seriously consider southern schools. 

"Kids up north were pretty unhappy during those Covid lockdown years," a father of a prospective college student, Larry Glazer, said. "And colleges down south were offering something different. My son and his friends would look at TikTok and see all these college kids going to football games, throwing parties, living their lives. It has an impact."


Yale University

Yale University is one of many elite campuses rocked by anti-Israel protests. (Left: Photographer: Craig Warga/Bloomberg via Getty Images, Center: (Photo by Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images))

Some parents are also signaling doubt over the value of an Ivy League education. 

Julie Ketover, a Yale graduate, said, "I don’t know that the value of an Ivy League education is the same as it used to be. People ask me all the time, ‘Would you do Yale again?’ I would. I loved it. But it used to mean something to go to a really, really good school. I think it means less today. I’m working with clients in organizations that are hiring, and it really doesn’t f------ matter to them where you went to college. You got your degree, and that’s enough."

Christopher Rim, the CEO of college consulting firm Command Education, told The Free Press that some students are giving up on going to elite schools entirely and are even interested in transferring to other institutions. 

"One student we work with recently abandoned her yearslong dream of attending Columbia" due to antisemitism, Rim said. "We’ve also seen a number of Jewish students who are interested in transferring, especially from Columbia, Cornell, and Penn."

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