By: Jayson Rowe
Editor’s Note: Jayson is the editor of Between the Times, works in the Information Technology department at SEBTS, is a graduate of the College at Southeastern, and is currently pursuing his M.Div at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
In 2014, at 34 years old, and after over a dozen years into a career, I came back to school to prepare for ministry.
I will candidly admit, I occasionally look back at my previous normal life and I’m a bit jealous of all the free time I once had. Nevertheless, being a seminary student truly is a calling. Because I am following God’s will I am genuinely happy—yet, that doesn’t make me any less busy.
Students here at Southeastern come from many walks of life, and are in many different stages of life, but we have one thing in common—we all have a lot to do. We have school responsibilities, family responsibilities, church responsibilities and most have work responsibilities.
Thankfully, in my time at Southeastern I’ve never been late on an assignment and, in fact, I’m usually finished with things early. This is pretty astonishing, as I have historically not been a very organized person, and could have even been considered a procrastinator most of my life.
I wanted to share some best practices I have learned since returning to studenthood which have helped me personally manage my time as a student.
Know how much time you have:
Before anything else, you must take into account any obligations you have outside of school. Know how much time you will be able to devote to school work every day. Have realistic expectations of how many credit hours you can take each semester. You may be sure of your abilities, but at some point, you will be at the point of no return, or as Dr. Benjamin Quinn likes to say, it’ll be “that time of the semester” and you have no choice to but to dig in and get it done.
Plan your semester:
As soon as you get your syllabuses (and it is syllabuses and not syllabi. You can verify this with Dr. Bruce Ashford) plan out your semester. Make note of any weekly assignments (quizzes, reflection papers), any exams, any book reviews, and any papers or research projects. For any long papers or major research projects, give yourself a due date that is 2 weeks early. This will give you time to not be under pressure, and to have plenty of time to take your work to The Writing Center for feedback, edit well, and turn in polished work.
Know your speed:
For weekly reading, understand your personal reading speed, and know how many pages per day you need to read to complete all assigned reading for the week. Likewise, know your writing speed, and understand how your reading speed relates as you do research for writing. Always over-estimate how long it will take you to do something, and don’t procrastinate.
It is not helpful to know your reading and writing speed if you are not working to full capacity. When you are on, be on. If you have three hours per day to devote to school work, turn off all distractions and give yourself up to that task fully for three hours.
Try to have one day of rest each week. I have tried to maintain Sunday as a day free of schoolwork. I can’t say I’ve been successful for every Sunday over the past three years, but most have been free from school work. It’s important to have a balance. Remember the first step, and try to make sure you are able to get things done in the amount of time you have budgeted for school work. Time is constant—we all only have 24 hours in each day, and you have to budget time just like money.
In closing, remember this: It is okay to get a ‘B’ in Church History if that keeps you from dropping below an ‘A’ in Family. It’s okay to get a ‘B’ in Theology if it keeps you from dropping below an ‘A’ in your personal devotional life.
Finally, let your school work reflect 1 Corinthians 10:31 and Colossians 3:17—do everything with a worshipful heart.