Be active and responsible for the education that you want

By Nathan Keil | Sports Editor

It’s very easy to slip in and out of a large classroom without really being noticed. Attending every class session, taking copious notes, reflecting quietly on the material at your seat… most people in the class wouldn’t know any different if you were there or not.

This was my undergraduate experience, at least with my professors.

My school was small enough that I knew at least one person in all of my classes each semester, but my professors wouldn’t have noticed if I just decided not to show up. I did all the work, but I never had any real impact on the classroom environment.

For two years, I’ll admit that any class before 10 a.m. was a struggle for me to even stay awake, let alone stay engaged. In hindsight, my degree will always have my name on it, but I don’t feel like I truly earned it.

Despite being available as a resource to students in and out of the classroom, I never took advantage of it. Some of my professors were leading voices in their respective fields, yet I never once considered asking them about it. Looking back on those four years, I wasted most of that time, gaining a degree but lacking in wisdom and knowledge.

Maybe it was partially for this reason that I decided to go back and get my Master’s Degree. It was a chance for me to make up for opportunity I squandered in my youth. Now in my final year of graduate school, I don’t want to repeat my undergraduate mistakes and I don’t want you to either.

First, stay engaged in class. Not every class is structured the same. Some are geared toward lecture, others for class discussion. Regardless, I believe the longer one stays invested in the reading and the assignments, the easier it is to stay engaged during the class meeting.

Engagement can look different to different people based on personality. I encourage you to be willing to share your thoughts and ideas with your professors and classmates even if it stirs up some differing opinions. Allow these conversations to be opportunities to learn.

Take advantage of your professors and the knowledge they possess, they want to share their wisdom with you. As a student at Truett Seminary, I am fortunate to have professors that are world-class theologians and scholars. Who better to learn from than those who have been in our shoes and are successfully doing what we desire to do upon graduation? Don’t be afraid to pick your professor’s brains. My most rewarding conversations have come with professors outside the classroom.

Don’t wait around to begin a more assertive engagement in your academic studies. Four years of undergraduate study will go by quickly. In fact, graduate school may go by just as fast. Don’t look back and wish you had asked more questions or taken a bigger responsibility in your learning than you did. You control your fate. Look back on your college days fondly and if you want seek more knowledge, pursue it. But once it comes to an end, there are no do-overs or second chances. Your learning starts with you and how you choose to engage with it. Go and make the most of your education today.