My Choice of College

Brooklyn College

I was still in high school, and now came the problem of what to do next.  Not being a stellar student hadn’t bothered me, particularly as I had never expended much effort on being such.  On the other hand, I was very proud of my best friend Michael Sternberg, the class valedictorian.  He was planning on attending Brooklyn College.  Going to college had never entered my mind.  I just hadn’t thought about it, it wasn’t part of my consciousness, and my mother wanted me to get a job as soon as I finished high school.  As a matter of fact, the previous summer I had held a job as a stock boy in the Garment Center and had done so well that the boss had offered me a regular job and a five dollar a week pay raise, which would have brought my salary up to $35 a week!  It was very tempting.  I considered the offer, and even missed the first few days of the fall semester, but then decided that I was only a few months away from graduation, and might as well get a diploma.  My mother wasn’t happy with that decision, but I stuck to it, and returned to Seward for my final semester and graduation in January.

Now came the decision as to whether or not to go to college, whether to be a lazy bum (as my mother would have it) or not.  Again, I wanted to go to college, but the problem was that I hadn’t sent out any applications (didn’t know I was supposed to!) and couldn’t afford any of the private institutions.  However, the various city colleges were free (I think there was a $6 registration fee, and there was a big to-do when that was raised to $8!), but the requirements for admission were daunting.  I believe you needed a 94 % average to be admitted, and if you were a girl, the requirement was a couple of points higher.  The wonder today is that so many made the cut.  I didn’t. However, there was another way of getting into Brooklyn College, and that involved taking an examination.  I  still don’t know what the test was or the score needed to get into Brooklyn, but I did manage to file an application just before expiration of the deadline.  I sat for the test, and to my surprise, passed.  I was going to be a student at Brooklyn College.  City College was closer, but it had a Latin requirement for English majors, and that was unappealing, while Brooklyn was reputed to have the better journalism program, in which I was still interested, and Michael was going to Brooklyn.

The wisdom of my decision was reinforced on me by the job I held between  January graduation and the start of the college semester in February.

As soon as graduation was over I began working as a bias cutter, which meant cutting long strips of cloth into narrower ones.  It was incredibly boring work, but the money was needed.  I felt as if I’d entered a horror land in which time had slowed down and minutes went by like hours.  The hands of the clock barely moved, and I checked on them every few minutes!  I was caught in a nightmare.  I only looked forward to my escape from the bias cutting, and when I left there in February to start college, I was ready.

About AlexLevy

Dr. Alex Levy is a retired English teacher who survived World War II and the "Final Solution" by hiding in a Catholic orphanage for girls in Belgium for several years.
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