Tips for RTS Students: Managing Your Course Syllabi


Course syllabi in a moment. But first a word about calendars.

Calendars do more than remind you about upcoming events. They are an essential part of planning and the effective use of time.

At RTS, I want you to learn how to make your calendar an ally in completing your studies.

A good place to begin is your course syllabi. When you access a syllabus for the first time, review it carefully. Then go to your calendar.

  • Add each class session to your calendar. For example, last year my Communications 1 class met on these dates:  8/29, 9/5, 9/12, 9/19, 9/26, 10/10, 10/30-11/1, 11/28
  • Add all work due on the date it’s due. That includes all quizzes, tests, and papers.
  • Think carefully about the amount of reading required. In addition to selections from other books, students in Comm 1 were required to read in their entirety:
    Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the expository sermon
    Francis J. Grimké, Meditations on Preaching
    Dennis E. Johnson, Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures
    William Still, The Work of the Pastor
    Timothy Z. Witmer, The Shepherd Leader: Achieving Effective Shepherding in Your Church.
  • If you find the amount of required reading challenging, do this: Build into your calendar a daily reading schedule. Break down your readings into manageable portions. Do this for all your readings in every course. Each day have a reading goal and meet it. I follow this practice. Each year I like to read one or two lengthy works in theology. Last year, I read again Calvin’s Institutes. This year it’s Wilhelmus à Brakel four volume The Christian’s Reasonable Service. For twenty minutes, I read a small number of pages five days a week and easily meet my reading goals.
  • If you already have your syllabus, start reading now! Read as much as you can before the semester begins.
  • Use fall break as a reading and writing week. A seminary semester is fifteen weeks of intensive work. Keep the Sabbath. Build in times of rest and refreshment. But a nine-day break from your studies in the middle of the semester may not be the optimal use of your time.
  • Don’t wait until classes start to work on assignments. Think about term papers and book reviews. In this course, students submitted a 10-page term paper on Him We Proclaim. Each semester, I will have several students who turn their term papers and book reviews before classes start. I grade and return promptly.

Get off to a good start this semester. Well before your first class, coordinate your syllabi and calendar.

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