There’s a reason this article is directed towards a “female student.” At evangelical seminaries women make up just 1 in 5. A statistic like that merits advice for the one. Heading into seminary can be intimidating for anybody. It’s a new environment filled with many of your expectations, hopes and fears. God has called you there and it probably feels like big things are happening—big, good things. That being said every new stage in life needs a survival guide. Here are 5 tips for surviving seminary as a female student:
1. Be Confident!
God called you to seminary for a purpose—be confident in that! Let this confidence guide you in your studies. These years are set apart for you to learn and pursue your purpose. There’s no time like the present to forge boldly ahead. Don’t hesitate to take on projects or assignments outside of your comfort zone. Take the classes that intimidate you. Use this time to grow in both your knowledge and in your spiritual life. Discover more about who God is and who you are in Him.
2. Connect with other women
Go into seminary knowing you’re a minority. Don’t let this define you, but it’s important to know your own reality. The best way to close the gap is to connect with other women. Find groups on campus—study groups, bible studies and mentors. Finding a graduate to guide you will help. She can offer relevant advice and support. It’s helpful to have women in your life to both support and encourage you. Women who have gone before you and women who will walk alongside you—they will make a big difference.
3. Take the lead
If there’s a group project don’t feel like you have to sit in the back seat, or even the passenger seat. Speak up and take the lead. Make your presence known. Again, you’re there for a reason. Raise your hand to ask and answer questions in class. There’s no reason to hold back. It’ll also prove your work ethic to your professors and peers. Don’t shy away from the leader God’s called you to be.
4. Know your stuff
It’s important to pick a school whose theology aligns with yours—at least for the most part. Of course you’re going to school to learn, but there’s a baseline of knowledge you should be familiar with. Look into your professors beforehand and see their specialties. If there’s a specific one you hope to work with, it’s important to read and know their work. Come prepared and knowledgeable about your school and it’s beliefs. As for disagreements, the best debates happen when you know the other side. Take the time to know what your peers and professors believe, and consider this alongside your own views. This is a time for growth; don’t be afraid if you’re swayed or change your mind.
5. Remember why you are there!
Remember when God called you to seminary and totally changed your life? Yeah, that’s why you are where you are. It’s easy to get caught up in the difficulty of the task ahead, or to feel overwhelmed. The reality of the situation is that God called you to this for a special purpose. This is your next step—embrace it. Even in the midst of chaos and exams and serious studies, that truth remains.
Being 1 in 5 isn’t the easiest slot to fill. You are brave and bold. Remember that. Don’t limit yourself to that number. Find other women to guide and support and encourage you. Live out your purpose with passion. Take classes you’re afraid of. Change your mind. Change it back. God’s carved out a season of growth for you—take advantage.