Finally. When I signed up for the Dual Degree at Princeton Seminary, I didn’t think 4 years would be that much different than 3 years – but it is. It means you go through senioritis twice – it means that all your friends you came into seminary with get to graduate, find cool jobs and go on with their lives while you’re still taking classes, writing papers and trying to stay semi-interested in school. But it’s done. Four years of seminary and I’ll graduate with the Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Youth Ministry degrees in just a few days.
I get a lot of emails from folks who are checking out Princeton Seminary and have questions about it. So, I’m always answering questions like “Do you like the seminary?” and “Is Princeton too academic?” and “What are the professors like at Princeton?” I guess now that I’m done – the question I have been thinking about recently is “Would I choose Princeton if I had to do it all over again?” Honestly, I don’t know the answer to that question. When I was at the Everything Must Change Tour, one of the co-sponsors was Mars Hill Graduate School (not connected at all with Marky Mark’s Mars Hill Church), a school I looked at for awhile when I was looking at seminaries. Back when I was looking, I was told their MDiv program was still in the very early stages, and not quite as solid as their Counseling program. The more I hear and see the type of education that is happening at MHGS, the more I wish I would have looked more into the program.
I also wish I would have checked out more of the PC(USA) seminaries, including Columbia Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary (SFTS). I really enjoyed my year at Columbia Seminary, and while it certainly isn’t perfect either, I think very highly of the faculty and administration. I’ve heard folks remark recently about the administration and bureaucracy at Princeton Seminary and how it can often be a very dehumanizing institution. Princeton definitely has an “ethos” and a vibe about it that can be incredibly frustrating (or….is it New Jersey?) and was something I didn’t experience at Columbia. I think I also would have looked more into SFTS, especially because of its great location.
But I did have a good experience at Princeton. I made some very close friends – friends I know I’ll have for the rest of my life. I was able to have very good relationships with some professors, and while it took more intentionality on my part, I found that these professors were very accessible and desired to get to know students. Also, I think there is a pretty good theological balance at this school. There is a pretty good mix of students from both ends of the theological spectrum, and throughout the middle as well. I feel like I was able to learn a lot, but also had chances to think about how theology impacts ministry. So, while I’m not 100% sure I would make the same decision again, I am sure that it was the right decision for me during that period of my life.