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Seminary Students: Who Are the Best of the Best?

Because most seminaries and schools of theology are having trouble attracting enough students, Auburn Seminary engaged in a study of 261 students identified as the "best" by their respective schools of religion, along with data from surveys conducted by Auburn and other member schools of the Association of Theological Schools, a membership association of over 250 seminaries and schools of religion in the U.S. and Canada.

The major finding: students enroll in seminary as a result of a "long, slow nurture of faith in community." Most seminary enrollees, and especially those considered among the best students, "have been embedded in religious culture, involved in religious institutions, and exposed to religious role models over time. Their development has been a shared responsibility of many partners for many years."

Key developmental elements include family stability, total immersion in religious life, and participation in well-organized religious activities. Role models, peer groups, and dramatic experiences were also key factors in individual decisions to pursue a religion graduate degree.

Learn more about how to encourage and support the next generation of faith community leaders. To help students and youth to clarify their vocational call, read our feature article, "Best Resources for Vocational Discernment."

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