Discerning the Priesthood as a struggling student

Hello CAF,

I have been discerning the priesthood for about two years now. I am still in high school but am scared that I may not be accepted into seminary because of my grades. I am an B+ average student but I struggle in the areas of tests, especially the ACT/SAT. I want to enter with the FSSP because I love the Latin Mass and the old ways of seminary but I know they really care about intelligence there and check grade point averages and what not. Is this a sign that I am not called to the priesthood?

FYI My GPA is 2.85+ and my ACT score is 19.


The OP

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Talk to the Vocations Director in your Diocese. They would be the ones to help you.


Many problems can be solved with money and this is one of them. I would hire several tutors and study a lot with them, so they can teach you how to study.

People are too afraid to spend money on tutors in my opinion. Even if you are doing very well-- and a B plus is pretty good!-- it could be a lot of fun learning how different adults approach English, History etc… You can also get a mentor out of the deal.

Work hard at something like mowing lawns so that you can afford top tutors.

so far, your grades sound fine to me.

just keep doing your best, and if you need a tutor, get one

They must have done something with grades; when I was in high school, a 2.85 was a C+. Getting a B+ may depend on so many variables that it is up to someone above most of our pay grades to determine.

You are a bit young to be worrying about the matter; first you are a junior, you are a bit early as applications normally are done in senior year. If you are a senior, then you should be in contact with the FSSP.

If you want to join the FSSP, then you need to ask them, not anonymous people on the internet who have no clue.

You will most likely be getting not only a college degree but also a Masters. Worrying about that is a bit pointless at this time as you need to graduate from high school and get into college; that may give you a better clue as to your capabilities.

The FSSP, if that is where you intend to apply, can answer your questions. We can’t.

I most definitely cannot answer your question. I live in the UK and what you’ve written may as well have been in some obscure dialect of Mongolian.


University professor here. A diocesan vocation director may not be helpful if you want to enter a particular society such as the FSSP. Get in touch with their vocation director. As for your grades, you seem to have a C+ high school average, and an ACT score at the 50th percentile level. Keep in mind that ANY educational program for the priesthood will result in doing graduate work in philosophy and theology up to the Masters level, which can be quite challenging. Do you like to study? Are your grades and scores higher in the qualitative than the quantitative areas? All of these are important considerations.

But, as others have said, you are very young. Pray. Study. Relax. Breathe. And if you want to join the FSSP, write to them.

Perhaps it may be a stumbling block, but only perhaps.

How much longer will you be in high school? If you are not yet a senior, you have time to buckle down and pull those grades up, which would show that you have become serious about your daily duty. (That assumes, of course, that the grades aren’t a result of a disability of some sort.) Also, there are many free online ACT test tutors. Take advantage of those; they really help in pulling up those scores.

The priest that witnessed my wedding told us, “I knew for sure that I was called to be a priest because that’s the only way I would have made it through the seminary.”

Your school or parish may be able to help you get tutoring if you cannot pay someone. As a high school student, you have time to improve. Perhaps your priest knows of retired guys in the Knights who would like to help a potential priest with some free tutoring.

I wanted to add. I learned in college that I studied inefficiently. Here is what I learned from gat got me from C’s to A’s.

  1. Your text book is designed to help you. Don’t just read beginning to end. First, read the intro to the chapter, then the summary. Write down (with pen and paper…the act of writing helps your memory) the questions in the back of the chapter. Read all the highlighted terms and make sure you know what they mean, as well as highlighted phrases. Write them down . Text books will accentuate the key terns and ideas in a different color, etc. Only now do you read the chapter. As you go, write down the answers to the questions, definitions of key words. Write a summary of the lesson. This now is your study guide.

  2. Listen to the teacher. He/she will say things like “this will be on the test”, or will repeat things…that is what you need to study. Highlight it in your notes. If something is in the homework it will be on the test. The time to tell the teacher you are struggling is when you start struggling, not after you get a bad grade. Bring homework to them early if you aren’t sure and ask if you are doing it right.

  3. Prioritize your study time. Pay attention to the math related to your grades. If you have 80 points to date in a class and that is a solid B, but only 58 in a different class with a 25 point test coming up, you know you need 22 points on that test to convert to a B, so that final gets your time.

  4. Always, always do the extra credit.

  5. Schedule your classes so you do not have too many hard ones at the same time. If languages are hard for you, take your Spanish class in summer school so you can give it your full attention. If you know a subject is tough, get a tutor lined up immediately from the start of the term.

  6. In college and seminary, use the instructor’s office hours. Each has scheduled time when their office is open to see students. I learned to do this at University. They would explain things a different way, tell me flat out what would be on the final and even let me run essay answers by them before the test and tell me what I was missing or getting wrong.

Just staring at the book takes too long and doesn’t work. Make it active. If you are memorizing, make up a dumb song about it. Make flash cards. Stick them all over. Go for a walk and quiz yourself on the flash cards. Shuffle them and do it again. Be creative.

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If you are close to me, I don’t think it is a problem. I would have accepted you.

You still have a bachelor’s degree to obtain before you enter seminary. Study habits in college are usually different from high school study habits. If you major in philosophy, theology, history, or some seminary-relevant study, you will have less math/science course grades averaged into your GPA compared to the high school GPA. (I am assuming the math/science courses lowered your average which is the usual student situation.)

Hope you are in touch with the Vocations Director.

Bad grades can always be brought up, tests can be taken again after more study, so, they are a sign you need more study.

While FSSP suggest 2 years of college, it does not appear to be a non-negotiable as they accept 18 year old men.


For our Diocese, those who choose to discern in High School enter a Discernment House right out of High School. There is a big deal made over their “signing day”.

Does the FSSP normally recommend for those discerning entrance to go to college first? Didn’t know that. I only know of a few orders/communities that do so.

EDIT: This was answered by the above post by @TheLittleLady.

So do they put everyone through the rest of college, and then a Masters? If so, I presume that is a matter of a bit more maturity than a high school graduate.

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I’d ask that of the linked Vocations office.

Our Diocese puts seminarians through all of their college, Seminary and post grad etc. Should someone discern out before ordination, it becomes a loan and they set up repayment.

More and more I see the req to have not accrued school debt before entering.

Yshua02, bad grades are not a sign from God that you should not go to seminary. Don’t let it stress you out. Trust in God and he will provide. God bless!

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