3.15.2006

Asbury Theological Seminary

Post any experiences you've had either in visiting or attending Asbury Seminary.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've been following the conversation, and am more than a little surprised at some of the perspectives on ATS. I found it warm-hearted and intellectually rigorous. I realize that others will have a different experience, but this is one of the nice things about ATS. It is large enough that there is more than one way path through the Seminary. You can take more holiness oriented professors. You can take more conservative professors. But all of the profs come from the Wesleyan wing of the evangelical church. You can take more formation oriented classes. You can take more academically challenging classes. Etc. And you can do this by taking courses with the same course numbers, just choosing your profs carefully. I was surprised that students move between the Florida Campus and Wilmore during intensive sessions. And a lot of students take a course or two online even when they live in Kentucky.

Anonymous said...

Asbury CAN be very challenging; and it can NOT be. It all depends on YOUR personal effort and selection of professors.

However, you WILL hear about John Wesley's view on this or that in just about every other class you have. Don't go to ATS if you don't appreciate Wesley.

anonymous #2

Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed my time at ATS. I would recommend students to check out the Florida campus as well as the KY campus. I went to the Florida campus and loved the experience. People often forget that Asbury does offer the Urban context in Orlando. (It is much more than Mickey Mouse and the theme parks.) With 7.5 million persons moving to the Central Florida area in the next 20 years, A person desiring the urban context will recieve it. Also with 12 fulltime faculty, three of which are Hispanic and two were HTI scholars (Hispanic Theological Iniatative a top scholars program.) The Florida/Dunnam campus rivals any major theological school on the issue of Hispanic Scholars. Also adding African American person to the faculty contiues to form the ATS Florida Campus into a representation of the greater Christian community in Florida. Come and see us. We would love for you to experience ATS Florida. God Bless as you decide on what schools to attend.

Anonymous said...

I attended Asbury for a year in 2002-2003. For the most part I enjoyed my time there. I thought professors were knowledgable and sincere. I went to SWU so I was used to professors building relationships with you and understanding who you were. With some exceptions, this is not the case at Asbury.

I didn't realize it at the time, but pretty much all atmospheres of intense academia take themselves too seriously. I found "real" conversations all too rare and many times just wanted to tell people to pull the corn cob out of their butt. I thought this was exclusive to Asbury, but it is not. Seems to be pretty much the case everywhere.

I transferred to another seminary after one year. Not because Asbury wasn't a good school but partly because my wife's work situation was horrible and it took her a long time just to find the job she had. Also, we found that meeting friends was more difficult than we thought. Something just didn't seem to fit for us.

I don't know if we made the right decision in leaving because I missed much of Asbury while I was attending the other seminary. Overall, I recommend it highly.

Matt Rampey

Erskine said...

ATS has been an overall positive experience for me. I have been an Extended Learning (ExL) student since I've begun my degree because I live in Canada and am in ministry. I took the B. A. in Religion at Bethany Bible College, so a lot of the M. Div. at ATS has been repetitive. On the other hand, the courses are deeper because they're graduate courses.(The reason I'm still in the program is because I'm prayerfully contemplating a different program.)

Something anyone looking into Asbury must consider is its Wesleyan-ism. If you didn't come from a Wesleyan theological background, you'll be bombarded. If you did come from a Wesleyan theological background, you'll fit right in and occasionally wish that someone would argue.

I was 22 when I started ATS, and it has been rare to find many people my own age there. I know there are some, but it's common to find people from their 30s through their 50s in class. (I'll let you decided whether that's positive or negative.)

The Wesleyan Seminary Foundation space on First Class (the seminary server) is very Kentucky focused. Steven Willingham is great at posting reminders for forms, etc. Other than those posts, I rarely find anything pertaining to me as a non-Kentucky campus student.

ATS is a challenge for the entire person. I didn't think I could ever spend this kind of money in my life, so be prepared. The seminary is worth every dime, in my opinion.

Before I sign off, though, I must agree with Matt Rampey. The majority of my ATS professors have been less than personable.

Anonymous said...

I am currently in my second semester at ATS. As a Master of Arts in Counseling student, I have found that the Counseling licensure program is very psychologically based, with the occasional reference to Wesley or Luther tossed in. The Bible classes are great, but might not adequately prepare someone who is interested in working in ministry. If that is your interest, I might suggest checking out the Pastoral Counseling program or combining the M.Div. with the MAC. My husband (he's an ATS student, too) and I have also found it a challenge to make new friends, not because of the age difference, but largely because of different social skills. My husband loves the majority of his professors in the M.Div. program, and has made some great relationships with them. Overall, if you can adjust to living in a very small town and reading A LOT, then ATS is a great place to be!

Anonymous said...

I am the wife of a seminarian who is currently working on his MATS. Looking at the seminary from the spouse's perspective is also very important because it is not only the student who is affected by their time at the seminary.

First, I found meeting people at Asbury very difficult. If a person does not have previous acquaintances at Asbury, he or she will have a very difficult time finding a place to fit it. Second, looking at the program from a spouse's point of view, I think it depends on the degree that the student is persuing and classes he or she is taking as to how difficult their time will be at the seminary. The experience will be different for each person, but coming to Asbury with an open mind will significantly better your time.

Ken Schenck said...

I went to Asbury from 87 to 90 and then was a teaching fellow for two years after that (teaching Greek and Hebrew). I suspect that my years as a teaching fellow were some of the happiest years of my life. Asbury definitely took me to the next level with regard to my understanding of theology and the Bible, but I say this with a sense that I came without much sophistication in these areas. It was just the right next step for me. I don't know whether I could have handled "strong meat" at the time.

I was able to find mentors there who were willing to invest in me. David Bauer is an excellent mentor and a brilliant mind. Joe Dongell was only arriving at that time but he has proved to be a similar master mind and mentor. David Bundy, who is now librarian at Fuller I think is a genius (there's an urban legend that he learned Dutch one weekend in Amsterdam), taught Patristics and I did an independent study with him on Aquinas. Bob Lyon was then the leader of the "loyal opposition," the LO society that was a little subversive and championed social issues. He has since passed.

So while the average student at Asbury was, well, an average student, there was always room for you to do truly advanced study--and no doubt more one on one than at Princeton or Duke. Being a teaching fellow was an extraordinary experience. In a strange masochistic way, I miss the regular feeling of being stupid that I had around some of these professors back then.

Has Asbury changed? Many of these profs are still there. I don't know but I think Asbury could use a few Bob Lyon, "flavor" personalities to give the place character. Maybe I just don't know the new guys. I suspect that the average student there is, well, still average. If I have one suggestion for Asbury, it's to expand their Theta Phi honors society to include whole courses just for those inititated into the mysteries.

Elizabeth Glass said...

I will graduate from ATS with an MA in Theological Studies this May. I have really enjoyed Asbury for several reasons, including 1) the opportunity for advanced independent studies (though due partly to the infrequency with which some classes are offered), 2) because it has provided an extremely global perspective on the Gospel (primal and folk religions was the best elective I've ever taken) and 3) because women both teach here and are affirmed strongly as students. And if you're wanting to get a PhD as a woman, it's great to actually have had excellent women professors like Dr. Sandy Richter. You'll find Kentucky very hospitable and Wilmore itself charming; and ATS really helps ministers to bond with colleagues in a way that I hope will help prevent future burnout.
In my opinion, the Wesleyan church could do worse than strongly encourage its ministers to get an MDiv/ require it.I am very grateful for the further education I've gotten here.

Jenn Underwood said...

As a graduate of Gordon-Conwell (MACE) and a upcoming gradute of Asbury seminary (MABS, AUG 2006), I would like to respond to a few of Nathan's comments. I appreciate that he only had a day to form an opinion, and often God uses first impressions to lead one in a different direction. However, these points offer a good jumping off point:

"1. I expected Asbury's greatest strength to be its spiritual vibrancy. From those who had attended there in the past this is what I heard."

After two years of GCTS chapels that were merely an additional opportunity to cram one more unmoving lecture in, ASBURY has been a breathe of fresh air. One of the reason's I attended ATS is because chapel was so authentic and spiritually vibrant. After three years in full-time youth ministry, I encountered more of the Holy Spirit in one Asbury chapel than two years of church services (at a solid and vibrant evangelical church). Additionally, this semester of chapels (Tues. ,Wed., and Thur.) have been the most spiritually enriching experiences since I graduated form Taylor is '99.

"2. I understood Asbury, on an academic level, to be very strong in languages and in Old Testament. Their New Testament was also understood by me to be excellent, and that while there was room for improvement in their department of theology it was also decent."

As a biblical studies student, I can affirm this statement. Asbury is "doable" for any student called into ministry, but the exegesis and upper language classes require a good deal of effort. Like life, at ATS, you get what you put into it. Drs. Richter, Stone, and Arnold will give ANY student a run for their money. (And I must say after two years of sheer boredom at GCTS, I'm thrilled to have faculty that challenge me to strive for the next level, as well as hold my attention).

In reference to the theology class, one can assume a degree from a Christian undergrad will cover most of the 500-level subject matter. Unlike most seminaries, ATS offers the opporunity to opt out of these classes with sufficent proof of a comparble course matter. However, it should be noted that the 500-level classes will cover in a semester what many undergrad teach trhough a four year degree. Additionally, there are many students who enter ATS from the secular, equally called to ministry, but in need of these more foundational classes.

"3. I expected Wilmore to be very small."

OK - It really is RIDICULOUSLY small...

"4. I expected the students there to be passionate about what they were learning, and highly motivated."

A higher percentage of students at Asbury are in involved in full-time or part-time ministry than any other methodist seminary and arguably, most seminaries across the country. Students are passionate and so highly motivated, many are pastoring churches while they attend school full-time. I'm truly sorry for the conversation you overheard, but let's face it...people at every institution are apathetic at some point in the semester, with some class, or some professor. Additionally, any program has several classes you'll hate taking, but they're necessary for accredidation.

"5. I expected the dorms to be simple, but to possess a strong community."

Never having lived in the dorms, I can offer two perspectives. (1) Rent in KY is cheap. Be an adult (esp. if you've never lived off campus) find an apartment and recruit a roommate on the ATS student Info. page. (2) From the what I've observed from the residents of at least one of the male dorms, the community is real, if you want to be vulnerable, and they're not afraid to call one another out.

ADDITIONALLY:

-ATS is one of the most technologically advanced seminaries in the country.
-The library is superb.
-The registrar's office is willing and available and for the most part, a joy to work with.
-ATS is the most affordable seminary I have researched (GCTS, Fuller, ATS, Duke, Princeton).
-Faculty are passionate, informed, available and interested in getting to know their students. They live what they teach and motivate me in all aspects of my spiritual and academic growth.

Kevin K. Wright said...

I visited Asbury in February of 2005. Although I was only there for a day, I must say that my experience paralled Nate's.

1.) I sat in on an upper level class on Hebrews. The students seemed disengaged and generally apathetic to the topics at hand. Discussion, although encouraged by the proessor, was minimal and rather banal. This seems to be a pattern because if I am not mistaken, Nate sat in on an upper-level theology class and thus shoudl have been challenged.

2.)Asbury was too expensive for em. Coming out of undergrad with a little debt, I had to find a seminary that offered good financial assistance. Asbury's scholarhips were minimal and they would not announce recipients until after you announced your intention to attend the school. While places like Duke and Princeton are expensive, much of th cost is subsidized by generous financial aid, thus making seminary very affordable if not free.

3.)Asbury's academic rigor was somewhat vapid. My student guide told proudly how he had never had to spend significant time in the library. He seemed more concerened about showing us his playstation 2 rather than the library.

4.) The people were friendly and warm. I appreciated the admissions team. They were plesant to work with.

5.)I ended up going to another school because I wanted more from a school. I wanted a place that pushed you in every class, even those that are just there for "accredidation." I wanted a school that didn't allow me to slack off without slapping me with a grade that would put my enrollment in school at risk. I wanted a school that caters to an academic denominator that is ostensibly higher than most, while at the same time stressing ministry in local congregations. While Asbury certainly could provide the latter, I'm not sure it could have offered the former. Thus, I chose another school.

Anonymous said...

I have never considered myself to be exceptionally bright or "gifted" academically, but after receiving an undergraduate degree from a Wesleyan college as an above average but by no means all star student, I found my 500/600 level first year courses at Asbury to be unchallenging and redundant. Granted, these courses can be opted out of, and I did some, but not all. Frankly, my ninth grade public high school history class challenged me more than ATS did in my first year. I've never been one to really aspire to academic excellence as a goal, but even I noticed a severe lack of curiousity in the student body, of which I am still disappointed. I found that there are few students who want to ask difficult questions and debate. In order to do that, one has to make friends with one's profs, which luckily, was not a hard thing to do.

The positive thing about ATS is the hospitalitiy and approachability of the faculty--a faculty that for the most part, retain their passion amidst a largely apathetic student body. There are MANY fine, highly educated, well communicating, and caring professors at ATS, and they should be commended. I will also say I was very challenged in the mid-upper level courses, and had to work quite hard to get an "A." It was this challenge to excell after my first year, and my respect for the profs, which kept me at ATS.

All this being said, I don't understand why Wesleyans expect their "seminary" to automatically be academically rigorous when as a denominational whole, they do not value academic logic and reason, but rather pentecostal power. (<--A VERY false dichotomy!) Hmmmm. Seems a little oxymoronic to me. If you expect academic excellence from your institutions, then you better damn well value it in your doctrine, your political circles, your spoken community values, your pulpit, and your practice. I'm not Wesleyan, so I can say this without political repercussion: Quit having snotty-nosed elitist adolescent attitudes about who and what is the "best" and start BEING what you expect others be academically--you'll find life much more agreeable. And, you'll get a lot out of whichever seminary you choose. It's all about what you put into it--your motivation, your curiousity, your work ethic, and your attitude. The above sentence is probably the best lesson I've learned yet.

P.S. If you attended a Christian College, I suggest you opt out of as many first year courses as possible. Don't waste your money on things you've already learned.

Russell Veldman said...

I attended ATS from 1994-1998,earning the M.Div. degree. Overall, I had a good experience.
During my time at ATS the school was undergoing a major transition. The "Beeson Bucks" had arrived and new buildings went up. Maxie Dunnam started his presidency, which totally changed the feel and focus of the school. The UM students were now focused on like never before and ATS's acceptance among UMC bishops increased greatly. This and other things shifted the school from being the place where UM students went and got penalized by their conferences to a school many conferences wanted their students to go to. That represented a major shift in identity for ATS, from outcast to insider. All this UMC emphasis left the FMC, Wesleyan and other students in the dust.
One other thought: you can only find holiness teaching if you dig deep at ATS these days. Only a few professors (Coppedge, Collins) will teach Wesleyan holiness with academic clarity and pastoral passion. Everything else seems focused on megachurch stuff. But education has always depended greatly on students seeking out an education, not simply trusting an institution will provide it for you.

once-a-Wesleyan said...

Going from the IWU religion department to Asbury Seminary will be like starting over for you--be prepared for that. The first year will be all repeats and at a lower level academically than you're used to at IWU. Later on you will rise to be challenged more however.

What is curious to me though is why the Wesleyan Church uses a United Methodist seminary as the primary seminary for the denomination. Asbury once was a counter-culture holiness seminary--the "god's Bible School of the UMs" but there is no doubt it has now become a mainline United Methodist seminary (just on the conservative end of the spectrum).

Do Wesleyans really have that much in common with United Methodists?

If the two denominations really are that similar, then consider switching to UM while you are at Asbury and you will have far greater opportunities.

Anonymous said...

Having received my MDiv from Asbury, I can say that Asbury helped me to gain a greater respect and appreciation for the wider church. I also came away with a deeper love for Wesley's theology. (Take Ken Collins for Wesleyan Theology if at all possible.)

Anonymous said...

I am a currently a middler in the MDiv program at Asbury. Having come out of another faith tradition and entering into the UMC later, the courses have shaped my appreciation and understanding of what Wesleyan-holiness really means. The environment at ATS is purely intellectual and yet entirely graceful. The professors have challenged me holistically and I am certainly satisfied with the courses in both online and on-campus formats in Kentucky.

Matt Guthrie said...

These are all interesting comments. I'm especially intrigued by two main thoughts: the lack of community and the lack of academic challenge.

I was a Wesleyan student from '94 to '99. As a second career guy, it was all new to me. My undergrad degree in math ed with a minor in comp sci came from a state school. I was jealous of all my friends who came from SWU, IWU, OWU, and Bethany that could place out of those 500 level courses and take some something more advanced, interesting, and enriching. And yes, some of my classes were still a waste of time. Ask someone about "Servant as Reader" or "Servant as Photocopier" and see if they know what you are talking about. But as a whole, I was genuinely challenged in most of my classes and could have been in all of my classes if I desired to be.

I chose to focus my electives on missions, seeking to learn missiological principles that could be applied to the home context. The ESJ faculty were superb on the relationship end. And I had many close relationships with lots of other students. My wife and I were both students, which helped tremondously. But we saw lots of spousal support for "regular" wives too.

In my last two years, I noticed an interesting change in the social climate. Someone mentioned the Wesleyan Seminary foundation. I served on the cabinet for two years, one as president. It definitely served as a uniting link for the Wesleyans. Then one fall, a boatload of IWU grads enrolled. I think there were ten different couples or singles that fall. At our fall picnic where we tried to meet all the new students and help them form new relationships, it was us "old timers" who could not break into the social circle. All the IWU folks stayed to themselves and had their own little community already built in. That's the year everyone began to ask why we did what we did at the WSF.

At the risk of sounding defensive, I conclude with this thought. Whether you come from IWU, SWU, Wheaton, or Moody, you can't expect your seminary to be exactly like your college. It's a different world. The men and women coming straight from undergrad struggle more than we second career folkls. Perhaps it was the lack of real world experience. Academically, I can only say you have to go where you think God wants you to go and you shouldn't feel like you have to apologize for that, regardless of where you go. But I'm glad to be an ATS grad.

Dave Ward said...

I have a deep love for Asbury...even if it is unpopular. When Holly and I went back to visit recently we drank in every sight of tiny little Wilmore with its ale-8 and beautiful flower baskets.

Some thoughts on:

1. Community - Some of our dearest friends came from there. We were intentional about community (as you have to be anywhere) by being in a small group and mentoring relationships. It was vulnerable, real, deep, and beautiful.

2. Academic rigor - if anyone has taken a class with Joel Green or Toddy Holeman they will agree that there is world renowned academic rigor. First question in my interview with princeton from a prof about asbury was "So you know Joel Green? He's a good friend." The biblical studies department is fantastic. My brother went through teh theology department and was disappointed. I would say theology is its weakness. Practical ministry courses were very strong. Pastoral Counseling, my leadership course, and a course on Forgiveness were among my favorites.

3. Student enthusiasm - there are always students who are not excited. My experience with seminaries in general is those staying in the dorms aren't the most energetic. The center of life shifts between college and seminary. In college if you are married you are out of the main circle which is all single. In seminary if you are single (unfortunate I know) you are out of the main circle which is married. And most single students i have met in seminary lacked the energy and excitement my married friends did. I don't know why...just was. Also, the UMC requires a masters for ordination. So, you can expect people there to be as excited as at IWU...a wide mix. Many people just see it as a boring hoop. No denying that. But many others eagerly want to learn. As an active Theta Phi officer when I was there, I enjoyed the interaction with my peers who were eagerly reading, digging into the library, and spending extra time for the sake of broader intellectual and spiritual horizons. There were plenty of us.

Sorry you had a bad visit day and met the rotten apples in the bunch.

Asbury was the place I discovered what vulnerability could be, learned what friendship should be, fell in love with academic learning, and gained a vision that still drives me.

It may have changed since 2004 but there is my take. David Bauer was a gem for me as was Dongell, Christine Pohl (also well known) and the other professors mentioned above.

Happy deciding

Anonymous said...

I have a few questions about ATS that maybe someone here can answer. I'm thinking about enrolling in the extended education M.Div program. However, I'm afraid that I might not get the academic education that I want off campus. Will I get the education from my computer that I would get from sitting in the classes with the professors? will I be prepared for Ph.D. work if I decide to go that route? I guess I'm just cautious because there are so many online degrees out there right now and some are legit. I'm in my senior year in college right now and I know people who started school after me that are already claiming to be doctors! (go figure!) I guess my question is how does ATS Exl campus differ from other online seminaries?

Thanks and God bless!

Ken Schenck said...

I have taught online for Asbury and know several of those who teach online for them. I truly believe that these courses can be and usually are as good (and often better) than onsite classes. I am not using myself as an example, for I am a poor online teacher. But the vast majority of those who teach online for Asbury are responsible, doctorally prepared content experts who design the courses themselves.

I highly recommend it...

Anonymous said...

Just so you know, Asbury is going through some transitions.

Joel Green was by far my favorite professor and the professor who shaped my thinking most while I was at ATS. He is no longer there, and that is a huge disappointment to me.

Don't get me wrong, there are still many excellent professors there - professors who helped me immensely. If I were to make the decision about seminary today, I'd probably go to Duke. Sorry to be a traitor.

Glen said...

I visited Asbury over the preview weekend there April 11 and 12 of this year. The campus is very beautiful, and the town is quite small, which is fine, I grew up in a small town. However, that is, I am very sad to say the end of my positives in regards to the visit. I was sorely disappointed that I talked to NO professors! Not one! They had a group discussion time, with 3 professors for about 50 people, but I find that setting difficult to learn about people and programs in. I never talked with any current students, and that includes our tour guides, who were very nice but graduates of the Intercultural school. I did not sit in on a class, though one was offered. The class was Beginning Greek, which I must now tell that in the Fall I will be a third year Greek student at IWU. So, I didn't go, because I did not feel it would be beneficial. I don't even believe it was an actual Seminary class, but one they put together for the visitors. My criteria for picking a Seminary is, can I be a student here? Are my faculty really passionate about what they teach? Can I live and fit in as a student here? I am very sorry to say I have no answers for any of those questions. Therefore, I will most likely, unless circumstances drastically change, be attending Asbury Seminary. I do not discourage anyone from going there, I just was not impressed.

Glen said...

In my hastiness I miss spoke. I will not be attending Asbury.

chad said...

I am a current Mdiv student at Asbury and I think I can offer some insight.

The preview weekends are a handy way to see Asbury, but they really don't give the best glimpse of the school. Everything is really rushed, and not actually being able to go to class or chapel puts you at missing out on the best parts of the experience.

This is what I would suggest: Visit for a few days in the beginning of a semester. Like every other institute of higher learning-the later in the semester you come, the more involved students are in their studies. Give yourself at least a day longer on campus than the single "official" visit. If you really want to check out a class, just go earlier and ask the professor if you can sit it, I can't think of one that wouldn't let you do it. Look up the office of community life and set up a meeting with someone there. To really see the spirit of Asbury, you need to get off the beaten path. Or just email me and we can hang out chad_brooks (at) asburyseminary.edu

Brian B said...

Here is my take on ATS, for what it's worth.
A few disclaimers about me before I start. I attended ATS from 2000-2003, while obtaining my M.Div. I was single and came in with one close friend from college (IWU). Also, my majors in college were Political Science/Pre-Law and Religion and Philosophy. I thought, even up to my last semester in college, that I was going to attend Law School. So, with this in mind, allow me to make my observations regarding why I attended ATS and how my three years were there.
The Why:
1. Location/Proximity - ATS was only 4 hours from where I attended college and 12 hours from my hometown. This was much better than Fuller, Duke, PTS, and others.
2. Size - ATS is one of the largest seminaries out there (7th largest according to the latest Assoc. of Theo. Schools Report in total enrollment). Large in regards to not just enrollment but also 7th or 8th largest in endowment behind PTS, Harvard, and Yale and a few others. And this is out of over 200 schools. This larger enrollment size was important to me since I am such a social person. Thus, a small school would have been tough for me, in my opinion.
3. Reputation - Growing up Free Methodist, I would hear my Grandpa and Dad (both long time FM pastors and administrators in the denom) tell stories of the Asbury Revival and the minister's conference and personal friends they knew who were professors there, i.e. Dr. Don Joy and Dr. Don Demaray. Also, I had heard good things about the school from other IWU'ers that I knew who were at ATS when I was in college. Lastly, from what I had researched and heard, ATS was both solid theologically and yet passionate about still being socially active and taking the Gospel to all the corners of the earth. This stood in stark contrast to other Arminian schools that had thrown the baby out with the bathwater in my opinion theologically and Biblically.
My Experience as a student:
1. Socially - This was the hardest aspect of the school for me. I would agree with Dave Ward when he stated that it is easier for those students that are married. There were so few of us who were single, that I would branch out and spend a lot of my time in Lexington serving in a church there and helping out with a UK campus ministry. I needed that interaction with those my age and at my stage in life, i.e. single, early to mid-twenties, and in school. However, I have heard that their spouse ministry program is one of the best in the country. You could probably ask Dave Ward more about that or Jeremy and Andrea Summers. I know Matt and Michelle Rampey had a tough time, but most couples I knew then and talk to still that are there now (Rev. Jon and Sarah-Marie Welch for example) rave about this aspect of the school. Oh, and a last note on being single...of the single ATS seminarians, only a handful were actually stereotypical (if there is such an idea), i.e. single and right out of college. There were many who were either single and commuting, over 40, etc.
2. Academically – I felt as though I was quite challenged academically while at ATS. Granted, there were certain professors and classes that were less rigorous, however, on the whole, my faith and knowledge of the text, etc. were put to the test like never before. Having the likes of Ben Witherington, Jerry Walls, and David Bauer will stretch you for sure. I know there are all star lineups other places as well, but I did not find ATS lacking in this area in my opinion.
In Conclusion:
On a final note, I am actually going back. I have been selected as a Beeson Pastor in Residence for the 2008-09 school year. It's a unique program where you can obtain your D. Min., all the while having all your expenses paid, including being able to travel the world on their dollar. It doesn't get much better in my opinion if you are looking to improve your preaching or leadership of the church. Check it out at asburyseminary.edu/beeson.