A Change in Plans

excerpt claremont accept

I graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in May of 1996. In a few months, I would be heading off to graduate school at Claremont School of Theology in Claremont, California. When I started my senior year, in August of 1995, that wasn’t my plan. I wanted to go to the University of Chicago Divinity School to take classes with my dad’s dissertation advisor and live in the same city as my sister. Claremont School of Theology was my back-up/just-in-case school.

Shortly before spring break of that year, I received my U of Chicago rejection letter. I remember opening the letter and then sitting down on a bench that was near my mailbox in the student center. For about 10 minutes, I was devastated.

Why didn’t I get in, I agonizingly wondered. I was smart and focused and a promising scholar!? I think I know why now. I was interested in feminist theology and challenging traditional approaches to theology. The University of Chicago, if I recall correctly, was not.

Then, I went back to my room and called Claremont School of Theology to let them know I was accepting their offer. It might sound strange that I got over it so quickly. I think it was to my parents. After I called and let them know that I wasn’t accepted, they pretty quickly (that day? the next day?) got in a car and drove over four hours to see me. But, I really did get over it that fast.

It worked out well. I got a great education in feminism, womanism and critical theory, from great teachers, at Claremont, without the pressure to professionalize and for a lot less money.

What sort of scholar/intellectual would I be now if I had gotten in to the University of Chicago? Would I be as much of a troublemaker? How much debt would I still have?