There are two basic categories of seminarians: systems guys and second career guys. The term “systems guy” refers to a student who has been through a pre-seminary undergraduate program (or something similar) and has continued straight through “the system” to seminary. In other words, they are following the traditional pastoral ministry track. In even more other words, they’re the young guys.
My husband might have been considered a systems kid 15 years ago, but because he has been working and is not young (comparatively speaking), he falls under the second category – he’s a second career guy.
The seminary considers anyone who did not go directly from undergrad to seminary, a second career guy. Whether they were a D.E.A. for 25 years, a church worker for 10, or an accountant for 1, they are all considered second career. Unlike the systems guys who tend to have very similar characteristics, there is no typical second career guy.
They are young. They are old. They are middle-aged. They are married. They are single. They have young kids, no kids, or grown kids. Some are even grandparents. Their experiences range from law to retail, from banking to law enforcement, from accounting to construction management, from medicine to computers. They might be military personnel, retired teachers, historians, church workers, psychiatrists, or managers. Their expertise is diverse and their life stories are amazing. And for those who brought wives or families with them, their collective experiences increase by tenfold.
Tapping into the experiences of the students and their families around us, is a part of why Toby and I love living here. A day doesn’t go by, without one of us learning something new about the lives of those around us. And because of that, there is a strong feeling of connection. Even though our backgrounds are varied, we find common ground here at seminary. And our collective experiences expand the learning potential for all people involved, whether systems guys or second career guys.