14 Tips for Surviving Seminary
- Exercise. Sleep well. Eat well.
- Take a 15-minute study break every 2 hours.
- Take a speed reading course.
- Give the Lord your best time.
- Make time for family and friends—in and out of seminary.
- Make a schedule for completing the semester’s assignments, and follow it.
- Find a ministry that uses your gifts.
- Find a mentor to guide you through this time.
- Attend social activities.
- Be on time for classes. Don’t miss often.
- Ask for help when you need it.
- Back-up your computer work.
- Keep your email address updated through CampusNet.
- Read Kerygma to stay up to date with announcements!
Helpful Hints from Staff and Students
- “Knowing that I needed to work part-time during my seminary years, I started to investigate employment opportunities four months before moving to Dallas so that when I actually moved, I hit the ground running. I wanted to work in a church, so I contacted many churches, introduced myself via email, sent them a picture and a resume to see if there were any staff positions open. I was able to secure a position in a great church even before classes started my first year in Dallas. In conjunction with my employment, I had investigated many churches to attend months before moving to Dallas. It was so great to have a home church already before even starting classes. We discovered that we really needed this church family during difficult times (one baby delivery, one car accident, and another medical problem).”
“I wish I had known to arrive 10 minutes early to every Hendricks/Bailey’s class so I could join the quest for the front row. I ended up sitting in back all semester.
“For housing issues, see the Student Housing Office. One of the realtors they recommended, Jack Coats, was a big help in determining where to live.”
- “I have learned so much from being plugged into a church ministry right off the bat. Not only was there a way to practice what I have been learning in the classroom, but being involved in ministry brought me more into the real world that one may not experience in the classroom.”
- “We have learned that what is important about finding a place to live is not finding a place as close to campus and as cheap as possible. It is finding a place that my wife and children can live, grow, go to school, and enjoy life. Attending the seminary is only a small slice of the total pie of a family. Mom needs a place she can call home.”
- “If my children dislike ‘Daddy’s school,’ because that is where daddy lives, then I might as well have not come to seminary.”
- “My wife needs a place where she can meet with other seminary wives to relate to this strange phenomenon of seminary. It was great to get plugged into a SWING group right away. It was hard to discover what SWING actually was, so wives of seminarians will need to be diligent to find out information initially.”
- “The campus mailboxes are where you learn to pray at seminary to get your mailbox open.”
- “They need to read everything that they are given! That’s our main problem with students, they don’t read what they’re given and then claim not to know things. Very irritating!”
- “For wives of students, the single most important thing for me has been to get involved with campus! Two of the best ways to do this are to join a couples’ Spiritual Formation group and to get involved in SWIM (Seminary Wives in Ministry). Our spiritual formation group has generated some of our best friends. They are like our family!”
- “Go visit the Internship department. Know ahead of time what will be required for your degree before you have to be doing it. That way, if you find somewhere to get involved within your first couple of years, you can get the credit and be done with it. This means you don’t have to worry about it or scramble later. Plus, it’s a great place to say, “This is what I want to do, where do you think I should/could get involved?” The sooner you plug in somewhere, the better it’ll be all around!”
- “Do one assignment at a time while studying; studying in 60 minute blocks and moving on to the next subject. It gives me the feeling that I’m truly accomplishing something while I study.”
- Don’t worry if you don’t know anybody, just start engaging people, asking questions, and by the time you get out of here, that stranger may become your prayer partner and close friend.
- Always put your campus box numbers on all your papers—and your name helps too!
- If you can’t pay for school, don’t enroll or take only what you can afford. Don’t take out loans—ministry jobs will not pay enough to help pay those loans off once you graduate. It’s just reality. Make smart, sacrificial decisions with money. Raise support until you have cash in hand, with an emergency fund.
- Anticipate syllabus shock by the end of the first week, but remember that “with God all things are possible.” He will help you get each assignment done as you trust in Him and depend on the Holy Spirit’s help ... Pray! Pray! Pray!
- Buy a calendar notebook where you can see one month at a time, each day having its own section to write in. Color code either each class’s assignments, or color code all your written assignments, all your reading assignments, and all your quizzes/exams so that you can see how they spread out over the semester. Then determine when you need to do each one to have them completed by the end of the semester.
- If your degree does not require Spiritual Formation, attend the information orientation and consider joining a group. It is open to all students, not just ThM and MA/CE It could possibly be the best and most valuable thing you do during your years at DTS.
- Meet with your faculty advisor sometime during the first semester. His or her advice and encouragement will give you needed information for your time at DTS and begin to build a valuable relationship. They are teaching at DTS because they care about you and desire to help prepare you for a life of ministry.
- Take the speed reading course.
- Take the research writing methods course, RS101, even if you’re not a ThM student, because it will make writing any paper easier.
- Seek to make your study time devotional. You may find yourself reading the Bible for an assignment and realizing it’s becoming boring or just routine. Stop! Use this reading time to meditate on one of the passages you’re reading. Take hold of your education. Turn every assignment into something which will prepare you for your future ministry and into something that will challenge your heart and bring you to your knees before God.
- Seminary is a challenging time, and you may begin to question your faith. If so, talk with a trusted friend or professor about it. You won’t be alone.
- If you’re not hung up over grades, then don’t start now. If you are hung up over grades, realize they might mean something, but God is the one in charge of your future!
- Don’t let school get in the way of your obligations before God. If you are married don’t neglect your spouse.
- Enjoy the journey God has you on. These may be some of the best and worst times of your life, but through both it can be a season of marked growth. In the end, seminary is what you make it. It is a divinely appointed journey.
- If you’re a nature lover, schedule time to break out of Dallas and enjoy God’s beautiful creation.
- Make friends with Turabian, Starbucks, and a good mechanic, and you’ll be able to survive your time at seminary!
- Laugh, laugh, and laugh some more.