A candidate for a religious order who is entering the pre-novitiate period of his/her discernment. The length of this time varies from one order to another, but during this time the postulant participates as fully as possible in the prayer and work life of the community. Since no vows are yet taken, this is a time for the candidate to discern the Lord's will.
You may have read the recent interview with Harvard's 2010 Valedictorian, Mary Anne Marks, who is about to move into life as a postulant with the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor, Michigan. If you haven't, please do! It's a thoughtful reflection on one woman's discernment process and the Church in the modern world.