Seminary. Worth the hype? Worth the money? What is the student getting for all that money?
At this point that they are going to seminary, the young women are mature thinkers and they can use all the contextual knowledge that they learned all through high school in new and innovative ways to truly make it their own. They can make personal connections to the concepts and work to see how they might integrate it into their own lives. They just need support as they work through all that. And for that, in a seminary, they have access to teachers, guest lecturers, dorm mothers and counselors, and their peers.
Seminary is that gap year – the year between the authority of high school and the autonomy of adult life. In high school, there are rewards and discipline measures that provide the incentive and framework to do what is right. But that doesn’t happen in adult life. There are no disciplinary actions, demerits or prizes. There are no attendance sheets and tests. And no reminders from well-meaning staff. It is just the person’s intrinsic motivation that guides their decisions. A huge jump, a huge difference.
Young adults need to gradually move from that authority and extrinsic motivation to that autonomy. With guidance and support when they falter. They need opportunities to practice and hone their thought processes and see the results of their decisions. They need to be surrounded and supported by people who care to help them work through their situations so that they better understand the possibilities and the consequence of different directions. They need experiences to widen their understanding of the world – to see the same situation through various perspectives.
In other words, they need to be in a setting that proactively provides the context so that they can become more experienced in perspectives seeking, communication, collaboration, creative problem solving, priority and time management. Within the Torah and Chasidic lens.
The best seminary programs are developed by looking at what the young people say they want and need. And from the perspectives of the adults who see how and what the young people of today are struggling with and seeking. That is how Machon Bina was built.
The program at Machon Bina, the newest seminary in the arena is all about preparing the students for the full spectrum of adult life as a frum woman, wife, mother, shlucha or whatever else Hashem has planned.
That is the mindsets, heartsets and skills both for Torah and chasidus and for adulting (yes, that’s a real word; it’s about doing the duties and responsibilities that are expected of adults). It is about having experiences and being experienced in all those.
It is not only the important mindsets and worldviews learned from sichos and maamerim and tanach. It is not only the farbrengens about the life of a Chabad chasid. It is not only Bayit Yehudi classes about married and family life. It is also about priority management and collaboration. And working through equally viable choices. And trying new things. And holding fast to one’s own identity. And pivoting and adapting when life throws its inevitable curveballs. plans fall through. Real life stuff. As a Chabad woman, wife, adult or wherever Hashem’s plans take her.
That is what the student will get in a seminary program that is fully immersive – a well developed context for personal development in all the facets of life. All. The. Facets. One that supports a girl in developing mindsets, heartsets, tools, skills, personal direction and some good memories- that’s worth every penny.