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pax et caritas

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    2020 Fall

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  1. I was worried I wouldn't be able to afford applying to several schools I was interested in, but I was able to get fee waivers from almost all the places I applied. They're not too difficult to get--at most the school would ask me for a paystub and then they'd approve me. So if you're worried about the financial burden, remember some institutions are about as wealthy as small countries, so please don't feel bad asking for help! I also applied to a few different types of programs, as I wasn't totally set on just one kind (MDiv, MTS, MA, MSt, etc.). I ended up settling on the MDiv pretty early in the process, but I was still happy to have options not only as for what university I wanted to attend, but what kind of program as well (at only the cost of extra time! Fee waivers). Oh, and I'd recommend applying to more than a couple places, if that's doable. I've seen people apply to only one or two of their top choices--and they might be good applicants too--but sometimes, for whatever reason, their application is unsuccessful (or they don't receive as much funding as they expected). Remember, even good applicants sometimes get shot down. I think I was a good applicant for UChicago's MDiv, but they had other ideas, and that's okay. I applied to plenty of other places, so it didn't worry me. Also! If you apply to more places, there's a greater chance you'll get at least one pretty strong financial aid package, and you might be able to leverage that offer to increase funding at, say, another program you were accepted to but didn't receive great funding for. A friend of mine did this when she applied for her M* program.
  2. Yeah, I think they ought to at least give you a sense of what’s happening. And I’m not sure how many were on the waitlist. I hope things become clearer soon!
  3. I'm not sure about your case, especially as it's for a PhD, but I know Covid certainly affected my case. Given the strangeness of our situation right now, I think some students have asked for extended deadlines to accept/reject their offers, so universities are having to balance those requests with the need for people on the waitlist to be notified in a timely manner. If you haven't heard anything at all, I assume something like this has happened, and that they're hoping things will be sorted out soon enough so they can reach back out to you. In my case, someone had accepted their offer, and then ended up rescinding it. I was the first person on the waitlist, so then it went to me. And in case it's helpful information to anyone reading this, I decided yesterday to choose Yale.
  4. Hey, everyone. I was told this morning that I was accepted off the waitlist for Notre Dame's MTS in Moral Theology. Until this point, I had been settled on Yale's MDiv; I had assumed that past April 15 there wasn't any chance of getting in off the waitlist. So getting in today has left me a tiny bit confused. I still feel like I'm leaning toward Yale, but I think that might partly be because I've spent the last couple weeks thinking that is in fact where I'm going. Notre Dame offers full tuition plus a stipend (I'm not sure what the stipend is yet, but I'm going to have a call about the offer soon), and Yale is offering me full tuition. Have any of you made this decision, or one similar? I'm not certain what I'd like to do after my M*, but I'm considering teaching high school (preferably at either a Catholic high school or classical academy), attending law school, or going for a PhD in political theory. I think both programs would prepare me quite well to do any of these things, so I don't really know what should be my major considerations. Any suggestions?
  5. Being that this is a question I've been asking myself quite recently, I feel a bit unqualified to answer. I can tell you what my impression is, however. Just be sure to take it with a grain of salt! I recommend reaching out to former/current students. They've been helpful for me. It seems to me the largest difference in culture stems from the fact that HDS styles itself as a non-sectarian place to study religion, while YDS seems to be more explicitly focused on Christian theology. As a consequence, HDS seems to approach religion from a more secular viewpoint, whereas YDS seems to be more comfortable with discussing religion in the context of how it applies to how we students live our lives. That isn't to say HDS is only concerned with theory while YDS is concerned with both theory and praxis! It's just to say that YDS seems more focused on an explicitly Christian praxis, and that that's relevant for me. I don't imagine these are perfect descriptions, or even good ones, but they're my impressions nonetheless. All that said, I imagine people of all sorts of backgrounds can succeed and enjoy either program. I was recently deciding which program I wanted to pick, and while I think I could've made either work, I think YDS would be better for me given its Christian identity (not to mention there's a better compatibility for me with respect to area of study + it's cheaper to live in New Haven than Cambridge/Boston). As a last bit of advice, I'd say remember that divinity school culture can differ from the broader university culture. Both are in the Ivy League, so there are good things about that, but also some baggage with respect to culture. Yet! They're divinity schools, and so they attract a type of student who's probably not the average student at these universities, and thus their cultures probably differ from the broader university culture (in what I hope are positive ways). Not to knock the broader university cultures. But it could be a relevant distinction. I hope some of that is helpful.
  6. This was such a helpful comment, thank you. And, congrats on the baby who is on the way! That's wonderful. I imagine you're thrilled. You've framed my question in a very helpful way, and one that gives me a sense of peace. As a philosophy undergrad, I tried to frame things in the way you've described (how will this degree help change -me-, and not simply my financial situation?), and it gave me peace in the face of financial uncertainty. No one in my family gave me a hard time over it because the plan for a while was law school, and while that seemed somewhat esoteric to many of them, they figured a philosophy degree seemed logical enough for that end. Now that I'm set on Div school, they've gotten a little more critical, and I think that's rubbed off on me too, and thus given me some anxiety. Keep in mind, I'm a first-gen student coming from rural America, so I can understand their concern over finances. I am very much interested in the personal growth the degree will offer, and how it'll put me closer toward working in education or a non-profit. Even if those careers don't pay super well. And truth be told, while the PhD --> university prof path is the way I've -thought- I want to go, I certainly -feel- I'd much rather get my MDiv and begin teaching at a classical academy, or Catholic school. I think getting the MDiv will help me wrestle with that conflict. I'm rambling a bit now. In more relevant news: I think I've decided on YDS! Part of the reason is because it isn't as... I guess you might say post-christian as HDS? So while it might not be as conservative as I am, I think it'll both challenge and nurture me in the ways I specifically need. Plus, I'm deeply interested in the post-liberal Christian theology that got started there (my undergrad education basically centered around post-liberal economics! Thrilled to work with Kathryn Tanner. Ah!). I've considered Duke for similar reasons, but they didn't offer as nice a financial aid package, though I was smitten with Duke's campus when I visited last October. Thankfully, Yale is gorgeous too. Anyway, I'm rambling again. Thank you for taking the time to share your opinion and give a stranger a good reminder and some peace about such a big decision.
  7. A friend of mine negotiated from around 80% to 100% a couple years ago. She explained to financial aid that YDS was her top pick, but that Emory had offered a greater financial package, and so wanted to see if YDS could make up the difference. It helps if you can explain specifically how it'd be benefit you (e.g., it would help me tremendously given that I will start grad school with X in student debt vs. oh more money is always helpful).
  8. Accepted to Yale's MDiv! Felt the anxiety in my bones as I checked.
  9. Ah, okay, thank you. I think I'm just going to try to minimize the reputation variable in my decision and focus on which scholars I want to work with. That seems most important anyhow, especially after reading this thread. Plus, it'll be a lot less mental gymnastics. Win-win.
  10. Thanks for the sobering analysis. I'm saddened to hear about how negatively a theological education might be perceived in the 'secular' world. But it's good for me to reflect on. I hope I haven't distracted you too much from your dissertation. Best of luck with it, and thank you again for your help.
  11. That’s a really good point. If I went that route, BC would be about perfect.
  12. This is super helpful; I’ve definitely been considering reputation in my decision, and perhaps too much. You’ve both given me lots to reflect on. Let’s set reputation in academia aside for a second. If I ended up going a non-academic route after div school, do you think the choice between the two universities regarding reputation matters? I wouldn’t make my decision based off this, but I want a clearer idea of what I’d be getting into wherever I go. Applying to div school has been a bit of an anxious process for me. I’ve been confronted about its practicality by family members who are upset I’m no longer applying to law schools. So I’ve been trying to think ... practically about where I attend with regards to job prospects outside academia (non-profit work, going back to the political world, etc.). I think this is a reason I’m drawn toward HDS, for better or worse. It feels relatively practical, not only because the name, but because of factors like the broader Harvard network I’d have better access to and the school’s faculty. But the school’s name might have me bewitched.
  13. That makes sense. I wouldn’t want to attend any institution simply because of the name, but Harvard’s name recognition does give me comfort with respect to job prospects and all. I’d be much more excited to attend for the scholarship I could accomplish there, though.
  14. This is helpful; I had no idea that there is (might be?) a disconnect between how an HDS degree is perceived on this site vs. amongst religion scholars. Part of the problem for me is that I don’t have one door I’m necessarily most interested in getting through. I’d say I’m aiming for two doors at the moment, though: applying to a PhD in political theory following my MDiv, or teaching at a classical academy (or perhaps a Catholic school). Relatedly, I have something of a pipe dream of starting a classical academy someday, though I’m not sure if that bit of info is really relevant. Maybe all of these options can just be reduced to the ‘education’ door, I dunno. Those are the two options I’m aiming toward, but I’m not dead-set on either. I’m hoping to discern things a bit more at Div school. By the way, to clarify what I’d like to study: I’m broadly interested in the intersection between religion and politics, and I’m specifically interested in understanding how the two interact in the context of 21st century liberal capitalist societies. In what ways can Christian ethics inform the way we respond to the problems of climate change, wealth inequality, social atomization? How might Christian ethics help us formulate a healthy sense of national or international identity? These are a couple of the questions I’d want to work on answering/revising as a Div student. edit: If I ended up wanting to get a PhD, Harvard’s political theory program would be at the top of my list (thanks to Michael Sandel being there). But of course, it’s incredibly competitive, so I don’t want this to weigh too much into my decision.
  15. I didn’t receive an email either.
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