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graduate admissions at Regent, says that talking with students is a valuable part of the process. “Hearing the story of God’s calling on their life through interaction with our admissions staff and esteemed faculty invites us into the world of the prospective student,” Kirnan says. “Whether a prospect currently serves as a full-time pastor, leads a staff team at an international missions agency or perhaps leads a group of women through a Bible study in their home each week, each conversation allows us to join them on their spiritual journey. We’re looking for evidence of spiritual aptitude and calling, so when applicants paint us a picture of their day-to-day spiritual endeavors, it really helps our admissions team to know if they’ll be a good fit for seminary.” Nixon agrees—and says that process could start even earlier than the visit. “Networking with university staff and faculty is key for prospective students,” Nixon says. “I recommend reaching out to multiple members of the university community. You can share about your passions, education background, and work and volunteer experience. You can also ask questions about the university and the specific program you are interested (in). Most importantly, it shows the institution that you are serious about applying to their school.” Students can also bolster their chances for admission through volunteer work in the community and making the most of undergraduate opportunities. “We advise current undergraduate students to focus on their classes, work hard and earn the best grades possible,” Cece says. “They also need to complete any required undergraduate classes for a graduate program. For example, some psychology programs require 18 undergraduate credit hours in that subject area. And for those students returning to graduate school with a gap after earning a bachelor’s degree, it is good to know admissions offices look very closely at work/volunteer history on résumés. Applicants can use their résumé to highlight progressive leadership opportunities and skills learned, and they should think about how those work experiences can translate to success in graduate school.” cha ri s masbe st.co m

What Not to Do

While there are many ways to improve an applicant’s odds in obtaining admission, there are an equal number of pitfalls that could sabotage acceptance. One mistake students often make is trying to handle the process alone. “A common mistake would be to attempt to discern which seminary or divinity school is best on their own,” Kirnan says. “I encourage every prospect to take a few moments to either talk in person or over the phone about their ministry goals.” For instance, she noted that some seminaries—like Regent—accept women in leadership positions, while others may not. By clarifying the school’s stance with a guidance counselor in advance, applicants can save themselves a lot of confusion. Cece echoed Kirnan’s sentiment. “We encourage applicants to ask a lot

process—and to start as early as possible. “Potential students often wait too long to apply,” Nixon says. “It is important to always meet admission deadlines. Students who apply early in the process have a far better chance of securing a seat in the program than those who wait until the last minute. Applying early also shows faculty and staff you are prepared for graduate school and ready for the challenge!” Bish believes applicants need to take their time with the application process. “The more time you give yourself as a prospective student to get yourself organized and the more time you give the institution you want to go to, that has a lot to do with whether you’ll be accepted,” Bish says, adding that he frequently sees students rush the essay portion of the application. “Students don’t take the essay seriously enough. There are lots of grammatical errors

“Applicants are urged to allow far more time than they think they need for the admissions process—and to start as early as possible.” of questions and follow their enrollment counselor’s suggestions,” she says. “The enrollment counselor’s role is to help guide applicants through the application process and to present their case to the school’s admissions committee. Prospective students can benefit from listening to their enrollment counselors and learning from their advice.” Remember, the counselors do have a say in the admissions decision. The way students handle the admissions process can say a lot about their character, Ozan says. “Anytime something goes wrong in the process, it can be easy for students to get upset,” Ozan says. “We’re looking for students who don’t get angry quickly but are slow to anger, quick to listen. Embrace the process. There are a lot of forms, a lot of references and a lot of processes.” By far, what students mess up the most is time management. Applicants are urged to allow far more time than they think they need for the admissions

they put in. We really look at that, and so do a lot of admissions committees, especially at the grad school level. Writing is a big part of the grad school experience, so don’t rush that. Take your time. Be conscious of the thought process. Make sure you’re first answering the question thoroughly and, second, having someone proofread the essay thoroughly. I see a lot of students make that mistake.” The consequences of a poorly written essay can be significant. “If they’re not careful, prospective students can make mistakes that disqualify them from admissions to their preferred program,” Cece says. Thankfully, admissions counselors are always ready to help. Don’t hesitate to ask them if questions arise. After all, they want as many great students at their schools as possible. TAYLOR BERGLUNDis the assistant online editor at Charisma Media and co-host of the “Charisma News” and “C-POP” podcasts. 2 01 6 | C H A RI S M A ’S B EST

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