I remember when I was anxiously awaiting my first day of classes at Asbury. I had bought all of my books beforehand and had even started reading. I was really hoping that I would be able to find a Seminary 101 list of a few things that would come in handy but I never did. I am starting my third year this fall and I want to offer up a few suggestions to things that will help the new student (or the continuing).
System for Notes
Find a good way to take notes. Learning to use a certain piece of software or going ‘Vintage” notes are two options. Whatever you do, stick with it because it is a pain to switch mid-semester. I did that in one of the most intensive classes I have ever had and it was painful.
A Good Bag
Get a good bag. Unlike college, where just making it to class was an accomplishment, in seminary I find myself having to juggle three different roles every day. The student side of me has to have the course materials needed for the day. This could be as simple as a notebook/laptop or it could mean several books. For one of my jobs, I have to keep several up with paperwork and my “idea” notebook, so there is two more items. Lastly, I am always working on a few side-projects so I have a few extra books and materials with me. This means that I sometime carry a full load. Since I try to go into school in the morning and leave around 5 or 6, I have to have a step up from the Hannah Montana backpack I could have bought at Wal-mart for 10 dollars. You will be using this bag for several years, find a good one and invest the money.
If you are lucky enough to only have the responsibility of going to school you are a lucky person. Most students juggle at least one side job, if not multiple. At any given moment, I am working 4 jobs and maybe some freelance stuff. I would die if I didn’t have a good method of organization. Wess Daniels is a Phd student at Fuller and has a great post about his method here, it is pretty much the same thing that I use.
Get a good, simple Bible and stick with it. When I came to school I had a bible I had been using for several years and it was already marked up. I found it to be distracting when I was in class and my thoughts went to the notes I had made in previous study. Having a “class” bible allows me to keep things a little better organized. Find out what translation your school recommends the most and grab a simple one, with no study notes and wide margins if you can find one. In a future post I will show you how I made my “tricked out” class bible.
Navigating seminary is different from college, it is an immersive experience that should be taken full advantage of. I know others have some great tips and tricks out there, so please post them in the comments.