Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Boulevard of Broken Dreams

I'm sending this week's Wednesday Words of Wisdom out to myself:

"You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need"
- Mick Jagger

Have you ever wanted something so bad that you poured all of your heart and soul into getting it, taking all the necessary steps, dotting all the i's crossing all the t's, convincing yourself that it was so much a sure thing that it wasn't worth dwelling on the small chance that it wouldn't happen?

And then it didn't happen?

Last Thursday I heard from the Boston seminary. I was accepted for the Fall semester, but I didn't get the scholarship that I was sure I was going to get. They offered me the "Dean's Award," a one-time award that will pay for two classes (roughly $2,500), and that's it.
That's not even going to put a microscopic dent in the $50,000+ cost of going to seminary.

I'm graduating next month Summa Cum Laude with honors and a 3.97 GPA. I have less than $100 in the bank and $7,000 in credit card debt after depleting my savings paying for my undergrad degree.
So why didn't I qualify for one of the Presidential scholarships that the school offers?
Well, actually I did, according to the admissions department.
But I was too late. They had "just" given out all the scholarship money when my application was reviewed.

How could this have happened?
I blame it on bad information on their website and bad assumptions on my part.
They received my application on Feb 23rd, long before the April 1st admissions deadline.
I didn't send it in sooner because they advertise their full tuition scholarship as being merit AND need based. Thus I assumed that they wouldn't be handing out scholarships until they had the applicants financial aid information.
The website says that financial award letters would go out to new students "beginning" March 1st, but their 2007/08 Financial Aid application wasn't made available until Feb 15th. I filled it out online on that same day.
Unlike other seminaries, their website has nothing that says "all applications must be in by such-and-such date to be considered for a scholarship." They have rolling admissions and with the mid-Feb arrival of the financial aid form and the April 1st admissions deadline, I assumed I was getting in early in the game. I assumed wrong.
I also don't know why it took them 6 weeks to review my application when their admissions office claims that "applicants will be notified in 3-4 weeks."

There is no way that I can go to seminary without a scholarship.
I don't want to leave school carrying $50,000 in student loans.
I may get a few thousand here and there from grants or other scholarship sources while I'm in school but realistically I know the bulk of the cost will have to be paid by me, and that would entail working full-time, going to school part-time and taking out reams of student loans. I know people do this all the time to pay for Grad school. I did it for the past 5 years to pay for college. But I can't justify accepting the $2,500 award and going into serious debt knowing that I would have had a full scholarship had my application been reviewed as little as a week earlier.

I will either have to wait a year and apply again (if they allow that) or apply to a different school. It's too late to apply anywhere else for this Fall as all the financial aid deadlines have passed.
So much for busting my butt last semester earning 22 credits so I could graduate this spring and start seminary in the Fall.

I am so angry.
Angry at the Boston seminary. Angry at myself.
Now everything I've been planning has been thrown up into the air and possibly put on hold for another year.

Yeah I know all the comforting clichés that apply in this situation:
"Humans plan and God laughs."
There may be something else God has in store for me that I can't see right now.
Everything happens for a reason.
I should be grateful for all that I do have - a wonderful wife who supports and loves me, a decent place to live, food on the table, my health, and the opportunity to graduate from college and go on to seminary, regardless as to when it happens.

I know all of that.
But I have to allow myself time to stamp my feet and pout and be pissed off and disappointed because things didn't work out the way I expected them to.
I may want to be a minister, but I'm still human.
In the real world I'll put on my "Que Sera Sera" brave face.
I come here to rant and to rave and to cry.
To cry over the loss of something that meant a lot to me.
The loss of something I truly felt God was leading me to do, right here, right now.
Either God has a different plan in mind or my going to seminary this Fall was the plan and I just screwed it up big time.

The door is still open a crack (a very tiny crack).
The woman in the admissions office was very sympathetic and wants very much for me to be able to attend in the Fall as planned. She told me that she's "going to see what (she) can do" and get back to me sometime this week but I'm not holding my breath. Short of her coming back and offering me close to what the Presidential scholarship is ($10,000 a year) I just don't see how I'm going to be able to go there in the Fall.

I've already started looking at other schools to use as a back-up should my chances for getting a scholarship from the Boston seminary fall through again next year.
There's a school in NYC that I took off my short list years ago that's starting to look pretty good.
In fact, looking at the NYC school has made me doubt whether the Boston seminary should have been my first choice after all.

Perhaps the "things happen for a reason" cliché will ring true once again.


Mrs. M said...


As a woman swamped by undergrad debt, and uneasy about how she'd going to make seminary feasible, you have tons of my sympathy. I wish I could say something helpful, instead I'll just say what we do in my family: I'm hugging you with my brain.

Nina said...

(((((Mocat))))), AB and I have massive debt for grad school, and I applaud that you don't want to go there.

I feel for you. I just got out of the ordination process (it wasn't going to work) and today I found out my job is probably going to fall in the latest round of local budget cuts.

Let's pray for each other. God will not be thwarted. W.H. Vanstone, in a lovely book called The Risk of Love, describes a pair of kids building a diorama, and the way they turned every mistake or failure into an opportunity to change the ongoing artwork. If kids are like that, how much more is the God in whose image we are created.


kitty litter said...

a 'cliche' I often use that I think fits perfectly here is "sometimes life just plain sucks'

SassyFemme said...

Oh MoCat, I'm so sorry. I do believe, though, that you'll end up at the school you're meant to be at, in the time frame that you're meant to be there. In my belief, there's a bigger plan out there for each of us. Hang in there!

Iris said...


Suzer said...

MoCat -- I'm so sorry to hear this! As I am drowning under law school debt myself, I can understand your reluctance to go into too much debt to go to seminary. I'll be praying that something comes through for you. Maybe God has another plan?

Martina McBride has a new song out, the lyrics of which my partner posted on her blog a few days ago. I hope you'll go read the lyrics. The song is called "Anyway."

(BTW, my blog is by invite due to some past blog trolls -- I'd love to invite you but don't have your e-mail. If you'd like, please e-mail me from my profile and I'll send you an invite.)

Blessings to you!


(My partner's blog is:

Wormwood's Doxy said...

Mocat---I can only imagine how devastating that news felt. The school did you no favors by giving you information that would only make you feel worse without changing anything. Grr.

I'll be praying for you.

MoCat said...

Thank you all for your hugs, prayers, and thoughts, it really means alot to me.
I'm starting to warm up to the idea that I may need another year to discern which school is right for me, and this is just God's way of giving me that time.

Although it may not appear so on the surface, I do think the school did me a favor by telling me how close I came to getting a scholarship. At least now I know that I met the qualifications so I can make a more informed decision about waiting another year, and it gives me hope that I may qualify for a scholarship at the NYC school as well.

....and the waiting goes on....

Zanne said...

Wow that's a tough place--I feel your pain, truly. Keep praying about where you're meant to be. Maybe Boston isn't it. If you do end up in NYC lemme know. I'll be at General. I know lots of good restaurants. :)

Cynthia said...

In a word, that sucks.

In the movie "Saved" there's a particularly dark line delivered:

Mother: "When God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window."

Daughter: "Yeah, so we can have something to jump out of..."

Praying that the way will be revealed.

Eileen said...


(That's what I usually say when things don't go my way)

Or the ever expressive, FUCK A DUCK!


I'm stamping my feet, and pitching a hissy fit right with you.

Push at those admissions peeps...they may be able to come through for you. (As a matter of fact, they SHOULD be able to come through for you).

Write a letter...complain about the lack of appropriate, first come, first served warnings on the Scholarship. Push.

If you really want it, they may be able to come through for you. (I used to work in Admissions in a private college, and I've seen it happen before....)

Prayers, sweetie. I'm pissed with you. UGH. Hate that crap.

Magdalene6127 said...

Dear friend, this is hard. I am glad you spoke to someone in admissions. I can't imagine a more motivated student, or one who adhered to the school's (admittedly flawed) process more faithfully.

Prayers for you. For what it's worth, I attended a New York City seminary, and if it's the one you're thinking about... do investigate it. It was the experience of a lifetime. I will carry its richness forever. (and I too was a 40-year-old seminarian).



Mary Sue said...

Well, that sucks like a sucking thing on Suck Day in Suckville, Suckdonia!

jadedjabber said...

I have just stumbled upon your blog. I'm not sure if you have decided upon a seminary or what but I am currently at Drew university in Madison NJ. It is a methodist seminary (I am planning on being a UCC minister). Drew gives really good financial aid because they recognize pastors make no money. They also have commuter housing so you could take classes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and stay here for one night, etc. I love this school. We have some of the most amazing faculty, very progressive, and well known. You should check it out.