Impact of Israel-Hamas Conflict on College Admissions



American college campuses are in turmoil over incidents related to the Israel-Hamas war, with students reconsidering their school choices amid safety concerns. Tensions over perceived Islamophobia and antisemitism are impacting admissions processes, causing prospective students and their families to scrutinise how institutions have responded to such incidents. The situation may accelerate the declining trend of Jewish enrollment in the country’s most selective schools and is also causing anxiety among Muslim students and their families.

George Washington University’s vibrant Hillel club interested Illinois high school senior, Josh Jury. But after a student protest of the Israel-Hamas conflict and the perceived inadequate response from the university, Jury decided to take a gap year.

As the impact of the war reshapes American higher education, many Jewish and Muslim families are reassessing their college choices.

The ongoing unrest could influence Jewish enrollment trends at selective schools, where declining Jewish enrollment has been a concern for decades.

Jewish parents reported reconsidering their prospective college lists as the Israel-Hamas conflict intensifies divisions on campuses.

The war has also sparked a battleground for free speech on campuses nationwide.

Amid the conflict, campuses countrywide are facing outcries about Islamophobia and antisemitism, prompting the Education Department’s warning about the legal obligation to combat discrimination.

College admissions experts for Jewish students report a surge in anxiety and concerns related to the war. “There’s a reckoning going on with Jewish families and inside many of these institutions,” said Naomi Steinberg, a private college counselor in Florida.

Muslim families are concerned too. Abrar Omeish, a school board member in Fairfax County, Virginia, shares a Muslim student’s fear that openly identifying as Muslim and pro-Palestinian could impact college admissions.

In the face of rising Islamophobia, Farheen Khan, a guidance counselor at Pillars Preparatory Academy, advises students to consider larger, more urban campuses for their safety.

The ongoing conflict has prompted a “tectonic shift” in the college admissions approach of some Jewish families, said Claudia Granville, a parent of Jewish high school seniors in Massachusetts.

Overall, the college admissions process is becoming even more complex and stressful for families from certain religious or ethnic groups. Factors such as access to religious student groups or special accommodations can significantly narrow a student’s pool of prospective schools.

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