In the fall I visited four rabbinical schools. There are only a handful non-Orthodox institutions (that is, ones that accept women) in the U.S. I ruled out two online/commuter schools, as well as the ones not on the East Coast (per my husband’s request). In early to mid-December, I decided to apply to just three of the schools I had visited — and I began to make plans accordingly: asking for letters of recommendation, sending transcripts, organizing essays, completing forms, etc.
When I took the GRE on December 9, I had to choose the schools to which to send scores, and I included school #4 on that list. I think I just wasn’t quite ready to rule it out. (Plus, I got to send four reports for free, so I thought, “Why not?”)
Five days later, the admissions director at school #4 called to check in. Surprised at his call, I wasn’t ready to have the conversation about why I had decided not to apply, so I only mentioned one reason. But I didn’t feel great about how poorly I had articulated my concerns about the school, so I sent a follow-up email. In it, I explained that I had come to the conclusion that school #4 was just not a good fit for me, for various reasons. I’m not going to be a productive member of the matriculating class — and the school shouldn’t want me — if that’s the case. I didn’t hear back.
Sidebar: I’m not trying to hide the identity of the school in question: In fact, it’s probably easy to figure it out. But I don’t think it’s all that important to this narrative.
Then last week, I did get an email, after he had received my GRE scores; he hoped for an opening to start the conversation again. This unexpected development shook me up probably more than it should have. I started spiraling into a tizzy of questions: Why is he doing this? As a new admissions director, does he just want robust application numbers? Am I letting flattery cloud my judgment? Are the concerns I raised about the school actually not accurate? Is this school actually my destiny?
The last is a bit of an exaggeration. But I did wonder, much to my husband’s chagrin, whether this was a sign from the universe. I’m willing to believe that things happen for a reason. And I think having grown up with an evangelical Christian father makes me more susceptible to doubt in the face of someone else’s certainty. (It could also be reasonably inferred that I am also an over-thinker and an over-worrier.)
I agreed that we should have another conversation; it happened yesterday, and it went really well. I was able to go through with him a list of my concerns. None of them were fully alleviated, which is not what I was expecting anyway. But next I’ll speak with the associate dean, as well as a current student. (Both are women, which may hint at the nature of some of my concerns.) And after a conversation with a rabbi I trust, an alumna of school #4, I’m going to go ahead and apply. What’s one more application, right? I don’t want to close that door quite yet.