For more than a year my wife and I have ventured on a journey to explore seminaries and see what is available for me to study. Our journeys took us to Dallas (TX), Pasadena (CA), Portland (OR), back to Dallas, to Virginia Beach (VA), and to Wilmore (KY).
Flickr Photo Credit: CraigCloutier
Throughout our search for a seminary I have discerned three tips that a prospective seminary student needs to practice in order to make the correct decision. These three tips were very helpful to me when looking at seminaries, and I hope they can be helpful to you too.
This one seems obvious, but it can be difficult to pray for which seminary to attend. Prayer is necessary, even a must, in order to discern God’s will about which seminary to attend and where to move.
Fortunately, there are many fantastic seminaries in America, so the decision about which one is the so-called “best” will not likely be a decision you will wrestle with. Instead, you more than likely will find yourself asking God which seminary is the one He wants you to attend.
When praying for which seminary to attend be sure to take your time. Sometimes God speaks quickly about which seminary to attend. Sometimes He might take longer for other people to hear which seminary to attend. The important thing is to allow God to be the the one to lead you to the correct seminary. That starts with prayer.
2. Visit the Seminary
In our various travels to visit schools we were surprised to meet students at those seminaries who had applied to, move to, and began attending the seminary without ever having visited the school or been to the city it is located in. My advice is to visit schools you are interested in attending.
Nothing can help you learn more about a seminary than actually getting to visit it. Being able to interact with students on campus, see the city it is located in, visit a class to observe the seminary’s culture, and to be able to hang out in the lunchroom are all invaluable activities. No other experience can substitute what you learn about a seminary by simply making a visit.
When you do visit a seminary, here is a list of what Jen and I would ask to do:
- Meet with an admission counselor
- Visit a class
- Meet with a faculty member one-to-one
- Attend chapel service
- Meet with students who were attending the degree I was interested in
Depending on what your list of activities might be, it is important that you take time to visit the school in person and get to know its culture, academic philosophy, and its theology.
3. Visit More Than One Seminary
This is a tip I would not have given before visiting seminaries, but it definitely is something I recommend now.
After visiting seven different seminaries I now see the value of visiting different schools because it gives you a better perspective for what is available, what each seminary’s strengths and weaknesses are, as well was what makes each one unique.
What is even more interesting is that after visiting one seminary for an entire day where you ask questions, seek guidance, visit classrooms, etc., when you visit another seminary and see different things you will then have more questions for the seminary you had visited previously.
The journey of Jen and I visiting and deciding which seminary to attend has been a year long process. After much prayer, vising seven different seminaries in person (we visited one school twice), we now have a seminary we have decided on and are attending.
Question: What tips would you offer about how to choose a seminary or any other school?