Finding out more information by and large was easy: the website was reasonably well laid out, so I could maneuver my way through it and find out what I needed to know.
One thing I struggled with a bit was understanding how exactly classes would be conducted and how the semesters worked. But then I found something that was even more distracting: they also offered an online MBA program, which apparently is quite well rated. That made me pause a bit as I thought about this as an option. Being employed by a major global corporation at the time, I thought about this for a few moments. Wouldn’t that make much more sense than pursuing an MAR?
I drew up a checklist with positives and negatives for each. At the bottom of my list, it became clear that the MBA, while tempting, was not why I had begun to look to broaden my education. God had been tugging on my heart to learn more about Him, and while getting an MBA at a Christian university might accomplish some of that, it wouldn’t give me the breadth of insight into the Scriptures that I was longing to have. I quickly discontinued the MBA thought and researched the MAR further.
With shock, I realized that the deadline for the next semester was within days. Mercifully, there was a real life person who was able to answer my questions. He told me that I needed to fill out a form to confirm my consent with doctrinal statements of the seminary, send my transcripts from my undergraduate and get a pastor’s recommendation. Would my pastor give me that? I only thought about that for a second; of course, he would.
The counselor helped me select my first classes and explained to me how I can order my books from the online bookstore and how I would be able to access the system where my class work would be happening. Blackboard is reasonably intuitive, so that wasn’t difficult to learn, yet I wondered how exactly I would be taught in the course of the class. After a few more tips on how to come up to speed with some online tutorials and providing me with a checklist for what I needed to provide over the next few days, we concluded our conversation.$50 on my credit card later for the application fee, I was well on my way to being a seminary student.
The questionnaire contained some rather interesting questions, which were obviously targeted at “weeding out” those who don’t conform to basic Christian beliefs, but needless to say, and as the questionnaire says itself, the seminary is considered a vocational school, and graduating from there is their “seal of approval”. As such, I agree with the need to have a certain stringency of adherence to basic, Christian orthodoxy applied in order to ensure that new students believe basic Christian doctrines derived from the Word of God, i.e. the Scriptures. I am happy to report that we agreed on all points. Another requirement on the form was a statement of my own salvation experience. I love to tell that story, so that was an easy one.
My transcripts were quickly found and faxed, and I put in a call to Providence College to have my official ones sent. Pastor Jeff responded quickly to my e-mail request of providing me with a pastoral recommendation and even said he was happy to do that for me. I was getting very excited as classes would start only about one week later! I opted for a New Testament overview and and Old Testament overview class for the first semester. Here I was, officially a student again, fourteen years after my last college experience!