At Palmer Seminary of Eastern University, an important part of the ministry of the Office of Student Formation (OSF) is developing ways to help newly admitted students engage the opportunities and challenges they will encounter as graduate theological students at Palmer and to support them as they begin their time as seminarians. We do this primarily through several “Phases” of New Student Orientation.
All of New Student Orientation is designed and required for students enrolling in the MDiv, MTS, MDiv/MSW, and MDiv/MBA programs.
Non-matriculant students—that is, those who are not in a degree program, but are taking Masters courses—are not required to complete New Student Orientation, but are welcome to do so if they intend to apply to a Palmer Masters program within a year.
Palmer Seminary’s New Student Orientation takes place in several required Phases:
Phase One: Online. This is an online, interactive experience providing a forum for entering students to continue to think and pray their way through specific, critical issues and realities that will affect their academic performance and ministerial development. Furthermore, “Phase One: Online” provides essential information entering students need in order to begin navigating Palmer Seminary’s academic and financial procedures. “Phase One: Online” is to be completed in the few weeks immediately preceding the start of the student’s first semester.
Phase Two: Academic Advising. Following instructions included in the Phase One process, entering students come to campus to meet with an Academic Advisor. Advisors partner with students as they select courses that fulfill the Seminary’s curricular requirements in the context of the student’s life circumstances and ministry goals. Partnerships with Academic Advisors continue throughout our students’ journey toward degree completion.
Phase Three: On Campus. Shortly before the start of classes, an intensive day of on campus activity and learning allows new students to meet their new classmates, faculty, staff and administration; complete some required academic benchmarks; become familiar with the special research resources available in the Seminary’s theological library; gain access to the University’s computer technology; and begin what will hopefully be ongoing conversations about the challenges of graduate theological education, formation for ministry, and maintaining healthy balance in work and family life in the midst of it all.
Phase Four: Assessment I. Assessment I supports the ongoing process of discerning and clarifying one's own call to ministry. Shortly after the completion of Phase Three, students complete a set of skills and gifts indicators and a personality inventory, and then schedule an appointment to go over the results with a qualified faculty person. The tools used in Assessment I help to identify strengths and weaknesses in ministry and academic potential.
The content and format of New Student Orientation is subject to change as the Seminary curriculum evolves and as the needs of our students may suggest.