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Applying to graduate school can bring many new things to light: Is my application process something I want to discuss with everybody, with nobody, or with a few trusted confidants? How well can I juggle my everyday commitments with this extra task? What is it that is truly driving me to apply for graduate study, and how can I best translate that into my statement of purpose?

As application season rapidly draws to a close, current HDS students stopped to reflect on what surprised them most during their own application processes…

Milena Naitoh, 1st year MTS:

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“More than anything else, I learned a lot about myself in the process of figuring out what to write in my essays and discern as my interests.”

Rod Owens, 1st year MDiv:

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“What surprised me most was how long it took to complete the application. I took a full 5 months to write and edit the essays and to study for the GRE. I had been out of school for 12 years and it was a little bit of a shock to see how much of the application process took place online. Overall, I think that it was easier to have everything uploaded to the website and to get notification by email.”

Xavier Montecel, 2nd year MTS:

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I was most surprised by the incredible hospitality of the Admissions staff. They really are there to help you and to welcome you to the community. –

Danube Johnson, 1st year MTS:

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“I was most surprised by the number of Statement of Purpose drafts and ideas I went through over the course of about 4 months (from Sept. 1st to literally about a week before the application deadline in January). I didn’t realize it would be so difficult to home in on what I am passionate about. It’s very difficult to put a passion into 2,000 words, I guess.”

Erika Carlsen, 3rd year MDiv:


“What surprised me most about the admissions process was how writing my statement of purpose really helped me to clarify my career and leadership goals. I was also surprised how clear the thread of spirituality was weaved throughout my former work, even though I didn’t explicitly see it at the time.”