Know why you’re applying to Seminary
This may seem obvious, but before starting your seminary application, it’s worth spending some time thinking about exactly why you’re applying. This may include your passion for the program-of-interest and desire for academic challenge, as well as how you hope to benefit from the degree (or, program) in the longer term.
The first set of questions prospective seminary students need to ask are internal, and addressed to themselves: What are my professional and personal goals? What are my academic and professional strengths and weaknesses? What are the characteristics of the seminaries in which I would like to study? If I attend SFTS, how will this influence and potentially change my life? What is God calling me to do?
Having a thorough understanding of your reasons for applying to seminary will not only help you to select the most relevant program to apply to; it will also help you to convince the faculty-admissions committee that you’re a perfect match for SFTS.
Allow enough time
This may seem to be common sense—but many of our applicants lead such busy lives. At a minimum, after this Inquirer’s Weekend, take a few weeks to gather and compile all of the required material. Then check and recheck to make sure all of the elements are in line. Don’t be afraid to contact me, Kris, or Ellen to answer any questions.
Make sure you don’t wait until the last second before pushing the send button for your application if you apply online. Believe me; faculty admissions committees can tell. Even if it is later in the year, take a few weeks to prepare adequately, complete all required sections of the application, and do a thorough review. Our M.Div. and MATS deadlines are: May 1 for Fall, and December 1 for Spring. After May 1 and December 1, late applicants are considered on a space available basis. The deadlines for the GTU MA are February 1 for Fall and October 1 for Spring.
Not following directions could raise questions about how the candidate might adhere to policies and procedures at the seminary once admitted and enrolled. If there is a word limit for your personal statements, follow it. If you are asked for a set number of recommendations, do not send more—the faculty admissions committee has limited time to review additional documents potentially.
Please refer to the Application Checklist on the admissions landing page of our website:
Embellishing your application or making excuses for weaker parts of your application (like grades potentially) will not help. No one is perfect, and applicants that try to make themselves look perfect may raise a bit of suspicion. Presenting yourself in a genuine and honest way is very important; for SFTS it’s a fundamental character trait that is very important in ours, and your discernment.
Ace the Personal Statement(s)
In a very crass example, a successful personal statement is like a cocktail: It’s one part ‘what led you to where you’ve gotten in your discernment, and two parts what you want to do when you get to seminary.’ The best statements that we’ve received are those that can articulate what brought them to the application stage. Think of the personal statements as a unique way to add context to your academic coursework and letters of recommendation. Use this opportunity to frame your personal journey of discernment and share your vision of where you’ve been and where you’re headed.
For example, Master’s applicants are required to write five personal statements of approximately 300 to 500 words each, responding to the questions given on the application form. Try to limit it to no more than 500 words. Grammar, punctuation, content do matter!