It’s hard to believe it’s been 8 years since I packed up my life and moved to Dallas to start seminary. Four years ago, I graduated and Ali and I moved to Florida. We initially lived with her parents and ironically, did so again last month for a short time in between rentals. Having finished four years of teaching a few months ago put me in a reflective mood. Then, several Twitter friends I have started their studies at TEDS this fall. This led me to re-think a blog series idea I had while I was finishing seminary. I had wanted to do a blog series on what seminary students ought to know. While the perspective of a freshly graduated student is helpful, I’m hoping the perspective of someone who’s been out for several years is more helpful.
In addition, I’m looking at the prospect of doing Ph.D studies myself, although not through a seminary. I’ll say more about that in time, but my approach to being a student will be different this time around. Part of this is differences in program (residential vs. distance) as well as aim within the program (general grasp of a field vs. specialized research in one area).The other part is that I’m hopefully older and wiser in my 30’s than I was in my 20’s (one can hope!)
This series will begin autobiographically and so somewhat parallel the book reviewing series. In short, before talking about how to be a successful seminary student, it’s worth thinking through why you’d even want to go to seminary in the first place. In some ways, Kevin DeYoung already covered this in his recent post. I’ll use that as a kind of framework in my next post and explain why I went and then why I think I might go again. DeYoung’s questions offer good ways to think through the big picture normative questions about the type of school you’d attend
From there, I’d like to talk through some of the situational factors that are relevant when deciding how to approach seminary. Cost is significant, as is the question of relocation. Time is certainly relevant, and so is job prospects after graduating. I won’t linger here too long, but some of these are things I didn’t adequately think through ahead of time, so don’t make the same mistakes I did.
Lastly, the bulk of what I’ll focus on relate to good practices as a student, which again, dovetails nicely into the book reviewing series. It will also be here that I start taking you along on my own nontraditional journey toward Ph.D studies. Here, I’ll focus on reading and writing well, as well as the overall conceptual architecture you bring to your studies. I’m not exactly an expert, but it’s kind of what I’ve been doing for the last decade. And, now that I’ve been teaching for a few years, I’ve added some teaching tips that I wish I would have been developing while I was still primarily a student.
All in all, I’m hoping to actually make this series stick. If there’s particular questions or aspects you think I should definitely touch on, let me know and I’ll do my best to include your ideas!