What Happens to the Other 50%? The Value of a Prep Education for Those Who Don't End up in the Ministry
From time to time it’s good to count our blessings. As we look around us, one of the blessings that we have in our Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod is a well-thought-out and well-set-up ministerial education system. In and among that system are our synodical preparatory high schools (Michigan Lutheran Seminary and Luther Preparatory School). These schools have the focus and purpose of training young men and women for the full-time gospel ministry. On average about 50% of these prep school graduates end up going on to Martin Luther College to continue their training and preparation for service in the kingdom of Christ. What a blessing that is! The first part of this thesis paper will outline one of these prep schools (Michigan Lutheran Seminary) and how it has carried out this purpose through the years. However, what happens to those who don’t go on to MLC? What happens to the other 50% of graduating students? This thesis will also look at the value of a preparatory high school education for those students who don’t go on to train for the ministry. It will answer that question, based on first hand experiences of Michigan Lutheran Seminary graduates and faculty members through surveys and interviews. It will frame the discussion of preparatory school importance from the lens of the graduates themselves and their personal experiences. After examining their responses and reactions to the questions asked and also alongside synodical evidence, it can be concluded: Yes, there is great individual and institutional value for a preparatory graduate even when he or she does not go on to Martin Luther College. These benefits include: 1) A Christian education, 2) Preparation for lay leadership and Christian service, 3) Continued ties to Lutheran friends and faculty, and 4) “Next Generation” benefits.