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THINKING ALLOWED


Essays on Issues, Ideas and Reflections on the Times. Published now and
then. Opinions pro or con are welcome.

I coulda Gone to Princeton

North Miami Beach, FL 11-27-2005
A.H. Schectman

Actually, this is not quite true.  I never applied and will never know if they would have considered my application.  I had little trouble with Rutgers because they were taking every ex-service man they could get in the rush to fill out as the newly created State University of New Jersey.  But Princeton is just down the road from New Brunswick and I might have gone there if I knew a little more and IF I had a better high school record and IF I were a little smarter.  I just learned that Princeton is Ivy League while Rutgers is not.  That makes a huge difference.

You see, my going to college was in a gray area because Mr. Belcher, South Side High School’s Principal, took me aside and explained some facts to me.  He pointed out that I was graduating under the half-way point in my class, in the THIRD quarter rather than up near the top from which position college entrance was a given.  It was a given that as I was about to go off to war and that college was not high on my list of things to do. I had other things on my mind.

After my part of the war effort was over and I had a G.I. Bill scholarship in my hands, I applied to Rutgers from somewhere in Germany and was told that I would be accepted in the Class of 1950 but, due to lateness of application and crowded conditions in New Brunswick I would go to class in the old Newark School of Pharmacy building – at night – and with provisional acceptance because of my high school grades.  Not knowing anything different I made arrangements to live in my parent’s new home on the Jersey Shore and would commute to Newark to go to class for my first year. I didn’t know it but Jews were allowed in Rutgers in large numbers while there was selectivity practiced at Princeton.

I realized many years later that I coulda applied to Princeton because my G. I. scholarship could have been accepted for Princeton tried to do its best by veterans by accepting as many as they could.  I certainly could have been accepted on the same basis as Rutgers except that Rutgers was now public and had to take anybody who applied while Princeton was private and Presbyterian and I was manifestly Jewish and not too many Jews were accepted even with the greatest of credentials.

Rutgers was Dutch Reform and I had to go to chapel but that requirement was waived shortly after as were wearing freshman “dinks” and keeping off sacred paths and other such hazing rituals.  I could have, instead, gone to Princeton and been one of the alumni who could have made some noise either for or against Judge Alito because of his conservative connections back in the 70’s. 

I coulda gone to Princeton – if I had had a lot of other kinds of smarts back then.  I bet my life woulda been a lot different.

 


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