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So, I have another paper to write this week. Honestly, I hate writing papers. It just doesn’t come naturally to me. I feel like I might overthink them too much or something. Anyway, I spent 7 hours in the library today working on this paper and have, basically, nothing to show for it. I’d say it takes me at least 10 to 15 hours to write an average paper. Is that normal? How long does a typical paper take you?

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{democracy:14}

It is Friday

Ryan Burns —  April 18, 2008

I’ve survived!

This week I had one paper due, two test to take, one group presentation to give, and one quiz (which I failed). However, despite the huge amount of work, I managed to survive. The biggest help in it all is that Just a Gal and the kids were away for the week visiting family. While I missed them a bunch, it is amazing how much less pressure there was on me this week. While I wouldn’t trade my wife and kids for the world, I’ll admit that when I realized how amazingly easy all you unmarried seminarians have it I was a little jealous. Again, I in no way would want to have things differently… but seminary was a completely different experience this week.

Welcome Home

So, I picked the wife and kids up from the airport last night. It really amazes me how much kids seem to change in just a week. Sweet Pea looks like she’s grown so much… but it has only been 7 days (how can that be?). The funniest part about picking up the family was, as I was waiting, I bought some Nutter Butters to munch on. When the fam finally came through the security area the kids ran over to me. As Little Man was running I stooped down and opened my arms. He was smiling and heading right for me and then his eyes caught the cookies. I could see what was happening in his mind… dad or cookies… which shall I choose?

Thankfully, he only stuttered for a moment and then regained his focus on giving me a hug. He gave me a longer than usual hug, which was nice. We let go of our embrace and I asked him how he was doing to which he replied, “Good… hey dad, what’s that?” pointing, of course, to the cookies.

Back to Work

With the week being so full of school I haven’t worked in about a week and a half. This, of course, is bad for the wallet. So, today I am cranking away at projects I put on the shelf. Of course, that includes Going to Seminary. I can’t believe I had a week with no “two cent Tuesday” or “thrifty Thursday.” How, oh how, did you all survive?!?

Well, no need to worry… I’m back to blogging and will have some content up and going this coming week. Along with that, having the week off from the site gave me some time to think about changes that need to be made to make Going to Seminary a better site. While I’m not going to make any changes immediately, I think Going to Seminary 2.0 will be a project a work on this summer. That said, feel free to let me know anything you think we could add/change to make the site more useful/better.

Seminary Meme

Finally, the Seminary meme is spreading around the world. I’m pretty sad that the trackbacks are working as planned. I’m doing my best to keep up with everyone who has entered by tracking them down through a couple different methods. If you’ve filled out the meme on your site, be sure to leave a comment on the post and that’ll ensure that you are 100% entered. Remember, the prize is a $100 gift certificate to Eisenbrauns.

I'm alive… I think…

Ryan Burns —  April 14, 2008

Just a quick line to let you know I haven’t fallen off a cliff or anything.

This week I have 2 papers to write, 2 tests to take, 1 Hebrew quiz, 1 Hebrew workbook, and 1 class presentation… so, yeah…

If anyone else has less on their plate and wants to write a guest post, shoot me an email… if not, it might be a quiet week on goingtoseminary.com

Cheers!

I did my taxes online last night using TurboTax. Honestly, it wasn’t too bad. In the past I’ve always gone to a CPA since I had my own business, was a minister, and other crazy tax issues… however, this year with the move I decided to just do it myself since I didn’t have a CPA in our new town. The decision worked out quite well. TurboTax had a great interface and guided me step by step… best news of all… REFUND!!! I really didn’t see that one coming.

If you haven’t filed yet, remember you only have 4 more days!!!

So, one thing that all seminarians should know is that you have some GREAT tax breaks available to you. Here is the IRS publication (always fun to read) on how you can get a deduction from your education expenses. Essentially, you can deduct up to $4000 of “Tuition and fees required for enrollment or attendance at an eligible postsecondary educational institution, but not including personal, living, or family expenses, such as room and board.”

Besides that deduction there is also a Lifetime Learning Credit available. Now, I’m not a CPA so I don’t really understand the relationship between the two options you have, however, I know that you can’t take both of them… That is why it is really great to use a CPA or a program like TurboTax. You simply plug in the information and it determines what is best for your situation.

So, if you haven’t done your taxes, get on it! And remember to take advantage of the tax breaks your education provides you.

It might just be me, but while attending seminary I’ve noticed that money is tight. For this reason I’ve decided that I’m going to try and start a new weekly section for goingtoseminary.com called Thrifty Thursday. Every Thursday I’ll try and post links and items that will (in theory) help us save a buck or two.

Today’s Thrifty Thursday item is coupons! I read somewhere that a common trait among millionaires is that they use coupons. Now, most of us seminarians aren’t millionaires but I think we can take a cue here and apply this easy lesson. One resource for tons of coupons is the Entertainment book. Now, while yes, it does cost $15 it is really worth the investment. You literally get hundreds of great deals from restaurants and businesses in your local area. Typically, if you use just 1 or 2 coupons then the book pays for itself.

If you are interested in checking this out, the website even has a place where you can plug in your zip code and find out what type of coupons are available for you. With the price being $15 and FREE SHIPPING, this is a Thrifty deal worth looking into.

Along with the Entertainment book there are numerous online coupon sites. Here are just a few to check out:

*Disclaimer – Yes, if you buy an entertainment book I get a few bucks from them as an affiliate. Not only will you be helping yourself, but helping me too… isn’t that nice!

Well, it is about that time in the semester where I’m beginning to realize that I don’t have a lot of time left to get these term papers written. This semester I have two to write: one for Exposition of Hebrews class and one for Hermeneutics class. Thankfully (bitter-sweet) Just a Gal and the kids will be heading out this Thursday for a week with her parents. I plan to move into the Library for those 7 days and crank it out. Both papers are due in about two weeks.

So, what about you? Are you one of those good students who works on his or her paper from day one or are you one who waits till the very last minute?

Also, if there is anyone who thinks they have a really good system for approaching term papers, feel free to shoot me a message with the gist of your system. I think I might take everyone’s advice and write a post that shows different approaches you all use to writing term papers.

{democracy:13}

Seminary Meme Competition

Ryan Burns —  April 4, 2008

Update: For some reason Technorati and WordPress are not picking up all the links from everyone’s site who is participating in the meme. For this reason, please drop a comment on this post after you’ve filled out the meme so we can ensure that you are entered into the comp.

This month’s competition at Going to Seminary is a good (and easy) one. The best part though is that one of our site sponsors, Eisenbrauns, has offered to supply this month’s prize… a $100 gift certificate to their online bookstore!

So, how can you win the $100 gift certificate? Easy:

This Seminary Meme is part of a competition sponsored by Going to Seminary and Eisenbrauns. If you’d like to be entered, simply answer the 7 questions below and tag 5 other people. You’ll also need to post this paragraph (links included) with your answers as the links will be tracked back to your blog and will count as your “entry” into the competition. On April 30th, 2008, one blogger will be selected at random to win a $100 gift certificate to the Eisenbrauns online bookstore.

Please feel free to modify the question so as to make it appropriate to your situation as a pre-seminarian, seminarian, or seminary graduate (example given on first question).

  1. Where do (will/did) you attend seminary?
  2. What class do you think has most impacted your spiritual life?
  3. What seminary professor has been the most influential while in seminary?
  4. What is the greatest challenge you’ve faced in seminary?
  5. What has been the greatest reward you’ve experienced in seminary?
  6. What are your plans after seminary?
  7. How many times have you been asked question #6?

Tagged (almost everyone who has ever left a comment on Going to Seminary): Jeff, Tyler, Shaun, Chad, Jon, tlange, Sovann, Julie, Chris, Jake, Paul, Jason, Terry, Anthony, Mark, Ryan, Jeremiah, Chris, Ben, Nick, Paul, Eric, RC, Raymond, Deb, Shari, and Andy

Seminary Comparison Matrix

Ryan Burns —  April 3, 2008

I got an message via the contact form this morning that is certainly worth sharing. A web developer, John, from Dallas Theological Seminary sent me a link to a cool little program they wrote that will compare a number of seminaries across various criteria. While it doesn’t have every seminary or every category of information you might want, it is a really cool tool for those in the process of trying to select a seminary.

Also, I really appreciated that John said,

Of course, one can never choose a seminary based on these factors alone, but we thought it would helpfully summarize a lot of data that future seminarians are trying to wade through.

Remember, choosing a seminary isn’t as simple as clicking some checkboxes and waiting for a computer to tell you where to go to school. However, a tool like this can certainly help provide some good information, and better yet, let you see that information compared to other schools.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the role of the local church in the life of the seminarian and plan, God willing, to write some posts on it in the near future. Until then, I’d love to hear about your involvement in a local church. I’ll go ahead and show my cards, in that I believe that serving in a local church is important for all believers, especially seminarians… but more on that later.

Till then, where are you?

{democracy:12}

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Ok, enough slacking off… Spring Break is over and it is back to the grind. I hope everyone enjoyed the guest bloggers this past week. I know I enjoyed having the time off. But, now it is back to work.

I’d have to say it is a bitter-sweet return. For one, vacation was great. I actually read NOTHING and did NO work the whole time. It was such a blast to just hang out with Just a Gal, Little Man, and Sweet Pea. Of course, I took almost all my books, but soon realized this just needed to be a vacation. So, that is the sweet part… And it is also the bitter part because I really could have used the time to catch up on some reading. But, nothing I can do now.

Well, just wanted to say “I’m back” and, again, thanks to all those who filled in while I was gone.