Online college classes for Yeshiva bocher

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    Frum in the South

    My son is finishing his 3rd year at a yeshiva in Lakewood. He wants to take a couple of online college classes over the summer. He is planning to go to apply to law schools in about a year and he needs some basic classes such as a writing class, history, etc. Although he is getting a BTL, we realize he needs some secular classes as well. I would appreciate any suggestions. Thanks so much!!


    Glad that you realize he needs more secular skills to make a good parnassah. Too many bochurim need remedial classes and never get them, which really handicaps them in the job market. I’m not too sure about doing them online – the interaction between prof and student is important, but if there aren’t any other options, it’ll do. And watch out for for-profit colleges that promise a degree/certificate in a couple of semesters. They aren’t accredited in the “real” world. Mostly they get you to take Pell grants and loans to pay them and then leave you without any good credentials.

    Reconsider doing a law degree. The field is already over-crowded. Children of some of my friends have done law school and then had a terrible time finding jobs. And stay away from real estate, financials, etc. I have friends who lost their jobs and everything else in the 2008 crash, and don’t believe that there won’t be another. They come around every ten years like a lunar eclipse.

    Touro College in New York City has a good reputation. They probably also have online courses. I would assume they also have career counseling, so he can find a field that’s a good fit and not over-crowded.

    And it might be a good idea to take a year to focus on finishing his secular education and starting serious college work. Trying to keep up a full-time beis medrash schedule and still do well in college can keep someone from doing well in either. Let him learn how to keep up a good learning schedule outside the yeshiva and learn to manage his time well. That’s a skill he will need no matter what field he goes into.

    Good luck to him!


    The job of a Yeshiva student is to learn Torah. It is ideal that this should be his only concern. Let him get married and learn in Kollel even if just briefly so he can build a bayis on that yesod. There will be time for remedial classes later.


    The online courses will look “good” for someone applying to a lawschool. While a law school can admit anyone regardless of background (something that lets not just yeshiva students, but others such as music majors, engineers, literature majors, etc., go to law school when their undergradutae studies don’t led to jobs), to be a success in law school (and law) requires good communication skills, familiarity with the social sciences and knowledge of history sufficient to understand the background of the legal system.

    One assumes the student really likes the idea of practising law, and doesn’t think he is apply for a “pot of gold.” Only a handful of students (usually from elite universities, often with good family connections) end up in the six-figure incomes out of law schools, and a yeshiva student is very unlike to qualify. If one is clever and hard working, one can build a career in law. Given the costs of legal education, and the prospect of a yeshiva student not getting into an elite law school nor ending up with a high paying “associate” position at a “Big Law” firm – the student is advised to minimize costs (go to a cheap local law school that one can commute to).



    Midwest2 makes some excellent points about law careers but if your son decides to proceed, he should take courses in LSAT prep and writing. Don’t pay any attention to 5ish’s condescending comments. Unless he’s volunteering to support your son until “later”, he has no right to dictate how he spends his summer vacation. If more fathers took their parenting as seriously as you do, the financial situation wouldn’t be so bleak for so many. Hatzlacha!


    The job of a Yeshiva student is to learn Torah. It is ideal that this should be his only concern. Let him get married and learn in Kollel even if just briefly so he can build a bayis on that yesod. There will be time for remedial classes later.
    “Even if just briefly”
    How brief is brief?
    And why did you leave out the” ideals” of supporting your family , which was read at hishis/her chupah?


    It is late for most on-line summer college classes. They mostly start in May or the first week of June and run for approximately 8 weeks.
    Your son should enroll in on-line classes offered by a public community college in his official state of residence (so he pays in state tuition)
    Here in Connecticut 3 credit undergraduate courses in the community colleges (which are all accredited institutions) cost approx $600 for in state students.
    He should take:
    Freshman English and Composition (highest priority)
    US History I
    Western Civilization I
    Political Science such as American Government

    He will find these invaluable if he intends to attend Law School.
    Do NOT waste the money to take these Freshman courses at 4 year colleges, the cost will be at least double (for public colleges) to quintuple for private colleges. None are the for profit colleges which are just a rip off.

    There is much interaction with the professors in on-line classes (I know, I teach several each year at both college and Law School levels). Some professors use Discussion Boards which require students to post theri work and comment in other students’ work. Others are live via Skype.
    An English Composition course usually has the student share their papers with the Professor via Google Docs and the Professor can make corrections on-line and the student can see each version of the work.

    Writing is key for lawyers, and the chances are a Yeshiva student does not write well enough to do well in law school and the job market without brushing up on their skills. Some law schools have entrance exams as well as using standardized tests. This allows the entrance committee to examine a potential student’s writing ability before making a decision.

    BTW>>>I own a small law firm (about 20 attorneys) and usually hire 1 or 2 associates each year. I have found those former Yeshiva students with BTL degrees to be fine for doing legal research and suggesting ways to handle situations based on rulings and precedents, BUT not able to draft client letters and write appeals briefs. My paralegals do a far better job.

    As to whether your son will make a great living in Law, the boo days are long over. The internet has killed much of the bread and butter work. Far too many things can be accomplished with on-line forms without paying an hourly rate of $250-500.
    I allowed and encouraged my children and their spouses to enter the field because I own the firm, they don’t have to work the thousands of billable hours a Wall Street firm requires of new associates. They don’t have to worry about becoming a partner. They will end up with the firm and my client list. No non-family member will ever become a partner while it is my firm.

    Frum in the South

    Thank you so much for all of your advice. My father is a real estate attorney here in Norfolk, VA, but the reality is our son will probably not move back here (as much as I might like for him to do so:)). We are BT’s trying to help our oldest son navigate through the post yeshiva education system and it is quite different than how my husband and I went to college and grad school. B”H, our son’s Rosh Yeshiva and other rabbeim have been very helpful. Our son will be home for a few weeks this summer and he will be spending time with lawyers in various fields while he is here. (My dad’s practice is 95% real estate closings.) It sounds like an online class might not work this summer, but I will keep trying. Thanks again! Shari


    CTL – good advice re classes. I would add a course in math and statistics, though. We’re bombarded with statistics on a daily basis and most people don’t know enough to evaluate them.

    I didn’t realize that online classes are so interactive these days. I last took one 20 years ago, so I’m a bit out of date.

    And I would still encourage the young man to consider careers besides law. Career choice can be strongly influenced by what “the other guys” are doing, and law is popular, but it might not be the best choice for this particular person, and as you mentioned it isn’t the greatest parnassah in terms of money. The Agudah’s Project COPE in New York used to have all sorts of info and advice on job prep/hunting. Maybe contact them for advice. If he’s at BMG he shouldn’t have trouble getting into NYC.



    Is it worthwhile to have the classes you mentioned on a college transcript for the purposes of law school admission or are you only recommending them so that the prospective student should learn the skills? l’nafka mina, would an individual who studies the materials in depth either individually, or in a forum other than an accredited college, and knows the subject matter well, benefit from formally taking the classes in an accredited institutions so that he can show a law school “look I took these courses?”


    First, I apologize for all the typos on my post above, it was made from my phone and these fingers do better with a keyboard.

    I am recommending these classes BOTH for the transcript and the necessary skills (English Composition) and knowledge (History, Western Civ, Political Science) needed to properly digest and understand the material thrown at an 1L law student. Self teaching does not accomplish the same thing as a college course with a qualified instructor leading the way and providing feedback.

    Just as in Yeshiva a bochur will learn with a chavrusa, most law students have study groups. The other members will likely not be former Yeshiva students. Their is an expectation that all students have a basic underlying BA or BS education that would include the above courses and knowledge. The OP’s son would soon find himself an outcast, shunned by other students in study groups and at a disadvantage.

    The bochur has no experience with college classes, so suggesting learning in another type of forum will not help him be ready for law school instruction. Yes, many law schools use the Socratic Method of instruction, but the required first year courses in subjects such as Legal research and writing require the underlying English Composition class I suggest.

    Frum in the South

    Thanks again for the advice. Whatever our son chooses to do, he does need the general studies classes for the value of the knowledge, not just to say he took the classes. Whatever graduate program he chooses, it doesn’t matter just that he gets in – it’s more important that he is prepared to succeed. Fortunately, our local yeshiva had a rigorous academic program (in addition to amazing learning!), so I am glad he has had a good academic background. He was the valedictorian for his small class (Jewish mother plug – sorry!) and is looking forward to taking some academic classes soon. Thank you everyone and have a good Shabbos!!

    Frum in the South

    While I was online, I thought about this thread I started. In the end, our son did not go to law school. He is currently in an amazing program in Lakewood pursuing a Masters Degree in Accounting. It’s a really good fit for him. He was (now he’s home along with our 20 year old son as well) learning during the day and taking the college classes in the evening. Before he had to come home, he was volunteering with the VITA program in Lakewood as well. Thanks everyone for your opinions and stay healthy!!

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